Critical Thinking Toolkit: Inductive Reasoning

Deductive reasoning is a very useful way to gain knowledge, but it is also very limited. Deduction is a type of reasoning that intellectually compels you to believe something if you accept some number of other things. But very few aspects of reality are like this. In most situations, there are a range of availableContinue reading “Critical Thinking Toolkit: Inductive Reasoning”

Critical Thinking Toolkit: A Priori Assumptions

This is one of the most important – perhaps the most important – of the many tools in the “critical thinking toolkit.” I don’t say this because I like this topic most among the topics I want to write about – although I do enjoy this topic a lot. The main reason I think thisContinue reading “Critical Thinking Toolkit: A Priori Assumptions”

Critical Thinking Toolkit: Possible v.s Plausible

In our common experience, there are a plethora of alternative explanations of the realities we see around us. Some of these are highly likely, some fairly likely, some moderately likely, some that are reasonable but not strictly ‘likely’, and some that are extremely unlikely. There are a variety of situations that we might find ourselvesContinue reading “Critical Thinking Toolkit: Possible v.s Plausible”

Critical Thinking Toolkit: Don’t be a “Mere Skeptic”

This is the last of the initial series of discussions I am putting forward about evaluating premises in an argument – or more colloquially, evaluating anything that somebody tells you is true. We’ve gone through a variety of nuances so far – about properly evaluating probabilities, when people do and do not need to justifyContinue reading “Critical Thinking Toolkit: Don’t be a “Mere Skeptic””

Critical Thinking Toolkit: Get the Categories Right

This is another brief, but important, note within our discussion of evaluating claims that people make while trying to prove a point. The shortest way to say this is that there is more than one type of claim. You should evaluate claims based upon the category into which they fit. I could see this summaryContinue reading “Critical Thinking Toolkit: Get the Categories Right”

Critical Thinking Toolkit: Weighing Evidence with Bayes’ Theorem

When we are involved in important discussions, it is important to not take pivotal claims of others – or ourselves – merely at face value. Instead, we debate the various available ideas. That is, we bring forth evidence that we have thought about and that we believe supports our position, and we listen to theContinue reading “Critical Thinking Toolkit: Weighing Evidence with Bayes’ Theorem”

Critical Thinking Toolkit: The Burden of Proof

One important aspect of philosophical arguments is whether or not there exist any “default positions.” That is, if I am trying to convince someone about X and that person is trying to convince me of the opposite of X, is either of us in some kind of default position? When is an idea innocent untilContinue reading “Critical Thinking Toolkit: The Burden of Proof”