Last Updated 05 Aug 2020

Critical Thinking essay questions

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Critical thinking involves skilled observation or judgment. The standards of critical thinking are:

  1. Clarity: that which is true can be expressed clearly. Clarity in expression is a sign of intelligence. If a statement is unclear, we cannot determine whether it is accurate or relevant.
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  3. Precision: close attention to detail. It demands that the words and data used are exact.
  4. Accuracy: making sure your information and beliefs are true. One can’t reason correctly with false information. If the thinking is reliable, then it has Accuracy.
  5. Relevance: statements are about the way the world is; what makes something true is the way the world is. It means that everything included is important, that each part makes a difference. If something is focused on what needs to be said, there is Relevance.
  6. Consistency: non-contradiction. Critical thinking avoids:
    1. I. Practical inconsistency/hypocrisy: saying one thing and doing another.
    2. II. Logical inconsistency/irrationality: believing two things that can’t be simultaneously true.
  7. Logical Correctness: sound reasoning/valid inferences. Deriving that—and only that which can be justifiably derived from statements/premises.
  8. Completeness: good critical thinking is never done hastily; explore the issue.
  9. Fairness: open-minded, impartial, unbiased. Don’t dismiss something just because it’s new or it’s contrary to something you already believe. It pushes us to be impartial and even handed toward other positions. When an argument is objective, there is Fairness.

There are various types of Barriers to Critical Thinking that hinders with one’s personality and overall individuality. And owing to these factors, one cannot operate in a business environment efficiently and effectively.
Barriers to critical thinking:

  1. Self-Interested Thinking: supporting conclusions because they are in your interest/to your benefit. Your wants and needs are not objectively more important than anyone else\'s; they certainly don’t determine truth. Critical thinking is objective.
  2. Self-Serving Bias: the tendency to overrate oneself.  Most people think they are above average; most people are thus wrong. Critical thinking requires one to be honest about their abilities.
  3. Group Bias: the tendency to see one’s own group (e.g., nation) as being inherently better than all others.
  4. Conformism: allowing beliefs to be shaped by outside forces
  5. Assumption: a belief without absolute proof.

Unwarranted Assumption: a belief without good reason.

Recognizing Arguments:
An argument is a series of statements with the goal of persuading someone of something. When they’re successful, arguments start with a specific point of view, something that the reader doubts; by the end of the argument, the reader has been convinced and no longer doubts this view. Deductive Arguments try to prove their conclusions with rigorous, inescapable logic. It is thought that the premises provide a guarantee of the truth of the conclusion. In a deductive argument, the premises are intended to provide support for the conclusion that is so strong that, if the premises are true, it would be impossible for the conclusion to be false.

  • All humans are mortal.
  • Socrates is a human.
  • Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

Common patterns of deductive reasoning:

  1. Hypothetical syllogism
  2. Categorical
  3. Argument by elimination (either, or)
  4. argument based on mathematics
  5. Argument from definition

Induction and Deduction arguments

Inductive Arguments try to show that their conclusion are plausible (likely or probable), given their premises. It is thought that the premises provide reasons supporting the probable truth of the conclusion. In an inductive argument, the premises are intended only to be so strong that, if they are true, then it is unlikely that the conclusion is false. Six common patterns of inductive reasoning:

  1. Inductive generalization
  2. Predictive argument
  3. Argument from authority
  4. Causal argument
  5. Statistical argument
  6. Argument from analogy

Without precision, one cannot be correctly understood. Lack of understanding or misunderstanding hinders discussion, dialogue, and debate. In fact, misunderstandings are quite often the cause of disagreements. Ways to be un-precise

  • Vagueness: Borderline case
  • Over generality: Too general; too many things fit the description of the answer and thus the answer is not useful.
  • Ambiguity:  A word is ambiguous when it has more than one common definition.

Logical Fallacies

Logical Fallacy (or fallacy) is an argument that contains a mistake in reasoning. Fallacy of Relevance are mistakes in reasoning that occur because the premise is logically irrelevant to the conclusion. Fallacies of Relevance:

  • Personal Attack (ad Hominem)
  • Attacking the Motive
  • Look Who’s Talking (Tu Quoque) Two Wrongs Make a Right
  • Scare Tactics
  • Appeal to Pity
  • Bandwagon Argument Straw Man
  • Red Herring
  • Equivocation
  • Begging the Question

Relevance is a statement that is relevant to another statement if it would, if
true, provide at least some evidence that the second statement is true or false. Positive Relevance: X has positive relevance to Y, if X provides evidence that Y is true. Negative Relevance: X has negative relevance to Y, if X provides evidence that Y is false.

Analyzing Arguments

In order to analyze simple and complex arguments, we will find it useful to construct a diagram of the structure of the argument that details the relations among the various premises and conclusions. Diagramming longer arguments becomes tedious; it is better to summarize them.

  • > Paraphrasing
  • > Finding missing premises and conclusions

A good argument must have true premises. This means that if we have an argument with one or more false premises, then it is not a good argument. The reason for this condition is that we want a good argument to be one that can convince us to accept the conclusion. Unless the premises of an argument are all true, we would have no reason to accept to accept its conclusion. It must, at the least, be either deductively sound (valid with true premises) or inductively cogent (strong with true premises). Arguments always contain premises, and while some premises will have support from other premises—there will always be some premises that are mere assumptions (claims made by the arguer). If the argument is valid/ strong, its soundness/cogency will turn on whether these assumptions are true. It is reasonable to accept a claim if:

  • (1) The claim does not conflict with personal experience that we have no good reason to doubt it.
  • (2) The claim does not conflict with background beliefs that we have no good reason to doubt.
  • (3) The claim comes from a credible source.

Categorical Statement

A Categorical Statement makes a claim about the relationship between two or more categories or classes of things. The relation between the subject and predicate classes of categorical statements can be represented by Venn diagrams. A Venn diagram for one categorical statement consists of two interlocking circles placed in a box. An empty circle is used to represent a subject class or a predicate class and is generally so labeled with an S or a P.  Shading or many parallel lines are used to indicate areas which are known to be empty. The third symbol used is an \"X\" which represents \"at least one\" or \"some\" individual exists in the area in which it is placed.

Translating into Standard Categorical Form:

  1. Tip 1: Rephrase all nonstandard subject and predicate terms so that they refer to classes.
  2. Tip 2: Rephrase all nonstandard verbs.
  3. Tip 3: Fill in any unexpressed quantifiers.
  4. Tip 4: Translate singular statement as all or no statements.
  5. Tip 5: Translate stylistic variants into the appropriate categorical form.

Categorical Syllogism

A categorical syllogism is a deductive argument containing two categorical premises, a categorical conclusion, and three terms major, minor, and middle with each term occurring in two propositions. Following the structure and naming convention of categorical terms, the major premise is the first premise of a categorical syllogism. The major premise contains the major term. The minor premise the second premise of a categorical syllogism contains the minor term. In order to be a standard-form categorical syllogism, three requirements must be met:

  1. All three statements must be standard-form categorical propositions.
  2. The two occurrences of each term must be identical and have the same sense.
  3. The major premise must occur first, the minor premise and the conclusion last.

Propositional Logic:

Propositional logic, also known as sentential logic and statement logic, is the branch of logic that studies ways of joining and/or modifying entire propositions, statements or sentences to form more complicated propositions, statements or sentences, as well as the logical relationships and properties that are derived from these methods of combining or altering statements.


When two simple statements are conjoined with an “and,” we call it a “conjunction.” We represent each statement as a simple letter, and represent the “and” with an “&. we can use truth tables to evaluate validity. We use them to determine all the possible truth values, and then look for a row where all the premises are true but the conclusion is false. If we find one, the argument is invalid. If there is no such row, the argument is valid.


Negation simply reverses truth value. Some of the salient features of negation can be read off this table. For one thing, re-negating the negation of p reverses its truth value again, leaving us back where we were.

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