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Critical Thinking: Using Logic and Reason

What is the best way to approach or deal with complicated claims? What is the best way to apply logic in order to construct sound arguments? What are logical fallacies in how can they wreck an argument? What other sorts of common errors do people make when creating arguments? What can science and philosophy do to help us in our arguments?
  1. Logical Fallacies
  2. Skepticism News
  3. Logical Arguments (15)
  4. Flaws in Reasoning (18)

Beliefs & Reasoning - Differentiating Beliefs from Reasoning
It's important to differentiate between beliefs and reasoning. The problem isn't that people mistakenly assume that they are the same, but rather that people can assume that having 'good' or 'right' beliefs as ends in themselves, regardless of the reasoning process that produce them. I won't dismiss the value of having good rather than harmful...

What is Critical Thinking? Establishing Emotional & Intellectual Distance...
The term 'critical thinking' is used, in one form or another, throughout this site - but what does it mean? Some may get the impression that it simply involves finding fault with others and others' ideas, but that isn't really the case. As a general rule, critical thinking involves developing some emotional and intellectual distance between...

Language, Meaning, and Communication
Although it might sound trivial or even irrelevant to bring up such basic matters as language, meaning, and communication, these are the most fundamental components of arguments - even more fundamental than propositions, inferences, and conclusions. We cannot make sense of an argument without being able make sense of the language, meaning, and purpose of what is being communicated in the first place.

Meaning: Denotation and Connotation - Definitions and Concepts in Critical...
Understanding the difference between denotation and connotation is important to understanding definitions and how concepts are used. Unfortunately, that is complicated by the fact that these terms can be used in two different ways: grammatical and logical. Even worse, both uses are worth keeping in mind and both uses are relevant to project of...

Occam's Razor: Separating the Likely from the Unlikely
Quite often we'll hear someone say that assuming the existence of a god, of souls, of angels, of ESP, etc. violates 'Occam's Razor.' But what does the mean? What is 'Occam's Razor' and who is this 'Occam' person anyway?

Deductive and Inductive Arguments: Whats the Difference?
Arguments can be deductive or inductive and you need to know the difference in order to properly create or evaluate an argument. In deductive arguments, it's impossible for the premises to be true but the conclusion false. In inductive arguments, the premises are supposed to support the conclusion in such a way that if the premises are true, it...

Argument and Logic
What is an argument? What are logical fallacies? In order to debate well and think critically, we need the proper skills. Whether reading advertising, listening to politicians, buying a used car, or considering arguments for religion, we need to know how to carefully examine what is being said and consider the validity of the content or structure.

Flaws in Reasoning & Arguments
When a person's argument is flawed, usually those flaws can be traced back to identifiable fallacies. Not all flaws, however, can be technically labeled as fallacies. Some of these flaws might represent very specific errors in the reasoning process while others are better described as flaws in a person's attitude or how they approach the subject matter generally.

Logical Fallacies and Logical Arguments
Fallacies are defects in an argument - other than false premises - which cause an argument to be invalid, unsound or weak. By understanding what fallacies are, you can avoid making them and more easily detect them in the work of others.

Do We Have Rational or Rationalized Beliefs?
We like to think of ourselves as rational animals, but perhaps it would be more accurate to describe ourselves as rationalizing animals. However reasonable a view may be, it’s possible that we have acquired it for wholly irrational reasons and are now simply rationalizing it in order to maintain our self-image as consistent, rational, and moral. It’s not just a question of rationalization, ei…

CRITIC: Learning to Evaluate Claims
Critical thinking is very important - every day we are confronted with a host of claims which we need to be able to evaluate. We need to consider political claims, economic claims, religious claims, commercial claims, and so forth. Is there any way people can learn to do a better and more consistent job? Ideally everyone would receive a solid...

Equipose: Balancing Skepticism & Objectivity in the Interest …
Being skeptical means engaging claims critically and with doubts. Being objective or fair means not pre-judging a claim and allowing for the possibility of coming to accept it as true, if good enough reasons are provided. People should be both skeptical and fair, but it's possible for these two principles to come into conflict if one isn't...

Language & Meaning - How Communicate Depends on Language & Meaning
We all use language to communicate an argument or a critique of an argument, but we don't pay enough attention to the language we use, the definitions we assume, and what we are really communicating. No matter what the topic being debated, you'll do better if you stop to reflect on the language and meanings being used. That, in turn, is best...

What is Logic? What is Critical Thinking?
Logic is the science of how to evaluate arguments and reasoning. Critical thinking is a process of evaluation which uses logic to separate truth from falsehood, reasonable from unreasonable beliefs. If you want to better evaluate the various claims, ideas, and arguments you encounter, you need a better understanding of basic logic and the...

How to Be More Skeptical - Steps to Improve Your Skeptical Thinking
It's easy to say 'be more skeptical' or 'exercise better critical thinking,' but just how do you go about doing that? Where are you supposed to learn critical thinking? Learning skepticism isn't like learning history - it's not a set of facts, dates, or ideas. Skepticism is a process; critical thinking is something you do. The only way to learn...

What is Evidence? What is Not Evidence?
Almost every debate turns on questions of evidence, but what is 'evidence' and how should it be used?

Critiquing Arguments - How to Evaluate & Critique Logical Arguments
Knowing what an argument is and how it is structured is only the beginning. You can't properly evaluate and critique logical arguments without understanding the ways in which those arguments can go wrong. These problems are generally known as flaws and fallacies: a fallacy is a specific kind of defect in an arguments reasoning or inferences while a flaw is some other background defect in attitude, presentation, or reception. Can you recognize flaws and fallacies in arguments you see?

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