Evaluating Arguments, Part 2: Circularity

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Circular motion was long thought to be the perfect form of motion, and as a result, it was postulated as the way heavenly bodies moved around the Earth. While circular motion may (or may not) be the “perfect” form of motion, circularity is certainly nowhere near perfect in argumentation. It is, in fact, a pernicious fallacy that seeps into much of our reasoning and argumentation, many times unconsciously. Today we will be looking at one way to critically assess an argument, namely establishing that it is circular.

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Evaluating Arguments, Part 1: Introduction and General Dichotomy

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Arguably the most important aspect of critical thinking is the ability to analyze and evaluate arguments. While this new series will serve as a continuation of the critical thinking series recently concluded, I thought that the importance of argument evaluation warrants its own series. This post will introduce the structure and purpose of this series, and will also provide a general dichotomy which can be used to evaluate arguments.

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Critical Thinking, Part 5: Logic

Although it may seem boring (it’s not!), understanding logical symbols and concepts is crucial if one is to learn how to think. The concepts in the images below, known as the rules of implication, are used in nearly every philosophical argument, so knowing them is extremely valuable. Below are three pictures that will equip you with the essential logical concepts to engage with and read complex philosophical writing. They derive from a philosophy professor’s course titled, “Logic and Critical Thinking“.

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Critical Thinking, Part 4: Explanations

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Every day we encounter explanations of various natural and social phenomena. For instance, we may see a leaf fall from a tree, or witness a dog wince, or hear a loud noise coming from the porch. Each of these call for explanations of various sorts, some of which will be much more probable than others. Which, in your view, is the more plausible explanation for your observation of the leaf falling?

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Critical Thinking, Part 2: Intellectual Standards

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A crucial part of critical thinking consists in holding oneself and others to various intellectual standards, standards that make the very existence of rational discourse and inquiry possible. If one wants to think critically, one must keep each of these in mind when assessing and creating arguments. Each standard below is from The Foundation for Critical Thinking.

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Critical Thinking, Part 1: What is Critical Thinking?

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John Stuart Mill touched on a key aspect of critical thinking: seeking out opposing viewpoints and evaluating their merit. He demonstrated this when he observed, “He who knows only his own side of the case knows little.” This post marks the start of a very exciting series on critical thinking that essentially seeks to inform everyone regarding how to think, not what to think. In this post I will define critical thinking, and in future posts I will discuss how to critically think. So: what is critical thinking?

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