Daniel Kahneman wrote Thinking, Fast and Slow, which is about the psychological research concerning cognitive bias. Kahneman could very well be the leading expert concerning cognitive bias at this point in time. His research concerns how people reason and why people often reason poorly, and it has some important implications for critical thinking. I will describe three cognitive biases that he discussed in his book, and explain how they relate to logical fallacies. (more…)
May 2, 2013
March 6, 2013
Recommended reading: What is Logic?
Why is logic education important? The main question here is what the real point of logic education is. The real point of logic is not to teach people how to be logic professors, or to increase test scores, or to impress potential employers. Philosophers and mathematicians were very interested in understanding logic long before it was taught in universities precisely because of how important it is. Why is logic so important? The answer is that logic helps us better understand good arguments—it helps us differentiate between good and bad reasons to believe something. We should want to have well-justified beliefs. We want to know what we should believe. Understanding good argumentation helps us understand when we should believe something, and understanding logic helps us understand good argumentation. (more…)
February 12, 2013
At some point you are likely to hear about how giving arguments is rude and we would all get along better without arguing. Arguing is often thought to be a shouting match or hostile disagreement of some sort. However, argumentation is central to thinking rationally and critical thinking. The success of natural science could not exist without it. Yes, some arguments are disrespectful, but not all of them are. (more…)
January 22, 2013
It can be difficult to find anyone willing and able to engage in rational debate, but it is something I think we should aspire to having. Many people refuse to engage in rational debate because they find it offensive or they would rather engage in name calling. I believe that rational debate has a lot to offer. It can help us better understand how to reason properly and to develop critical thinking skills. Rational debate is important to everyone who wants to know what they should believe about a controversial issue because we need to know if there’s a good argument in favor of a belief. (more…)
December 31, 2012
You can download a PDF ebook of this introduction to argument mapping here:
Argument maps are visual representations of arguments to help people better understand them. A meta-analysis of various studies found that classes with lots of argument map practice are the most effective type of critical thinking class to help improve critical thinking skills. (more…)
December 6, 2012
I believe that argument maps as I understand them are superior to other types of argument diagrams. I will describe four different kinds of argument diagrams, then explain why argument maps seem to be the best. (more…)
October 10, 2012
Logic is a domain of philosophy concerned with rational criteria that applies to argumentation. Logic includes a study of argumentation within natural language, consistent reasoning, valid argumentation, and errors in reasoning. It is divided into two main domains: Formal and informal logic. (more…)
September 9, 2012
Logic is greatly misunderstood. Not only do very few people understand logic properly, but even critical thinking educators believe false things about logic. I will discuss ten myths (false beliefs) I believe many people have about logic. (more…)
August 22, 2012
See Part 1 here. (I advise you to read part 1 first.)
One reason that not all good arguments are logically sound is because good arguments used in science are inductive, and inductive arguments are not meant to be logically sound. However, not all good deductive arguments are logically sound either. There is a sense that deductive arguments would ideally be logically sound, but some deductive arguments have sufficiently justified premises, even if those premises aren’t known to be true for certain. A good deductive argument must be logically valid, and it must have sufficiently justified premises. Even so, not all good deductive arguments are logically sound. (more…)
August 13, 2012
More than one person has believed that all good arguments are logically sound, but this is a mistake. Not all good arguments are logically sound. Even so, understanding why not all good arguments are logically sound can help us better understand what good arguments are. I will discuss what good arguments are, I will explain what it means for an argument to be logically sound, explain the distinction between deductive and inductive arguments, and present an argument that proves that not all good arguments are logically sound. (more…)
July 11, 2012
I created a draft of The Comprehensible Philosophy Dictionary that is now available to the world. The motivation is to help people understand concepts related to logic, philosophy, and critical thinking. The definitions should generally be something you can understand, even if you have little to know education in these fields.
We all know that dictionaries can be valuable when we need to know what a term means while reading a book, but the philosophical dictionary isn’t just to help us understand the arcane language spoken by elitist intellectuals. The terminology used by philosophers often refer to concepts that are central to rational thought or that help us make important distinctions. Go here to take a look for yourself.
June 24, 2012
There is a great deal of critical thinking concepts that can be both convenient to use and help improve our critical thinking skills. However, some critical thinking concepts should be considered to be indispensable to being a human being because it’s a requirement of having a minimal capacity to reason and argue properly. The list of critical thinking terminology listed here are used to refer to concepts that everyone should know about—and yet many people either haven’t been informed about them or they don’t understand them properly:
June 7, 2012
The following is a list of links to blog posts in the “correct order” for learning about philosophical argumentation and essay writing. (It can be a good idea to read my “Introduction to Argument Mapping & Critical Thinking” and “What is Philosophy?” articles before reading these articles.) (more…)
May 31, 2012
The world is full of manipulation, lies, and unreasonable thought. We all know we can’t believe everything we read, but people still get manipulated and charlatans occasionally make a fortune anyway. The Internet is one of the greatest sources of information, but we still need to know what information is reliable. It can be difficult to know what to believe, it can be difficult to identify manipulation, and it can be difficult to identify errors in reasoning. Additionally, there is research that strongly suggests that even the most reasonable people suffer from a great deal of cognitive bias. (more…)
April 27, 2012
You can download a free short introduction to critical thinking & argument mapping. Go here for more information.
I have made a comprehensive introduction to argument mapping and critical thinking in the form of an ebook. There is evidence that argument mapping is the most effective way to learn critical thinking. Argument maps are visual representations of arguments that help us understand how arguments work, and what it takes to make a good argument.
This ebook is no longer available for free on the website because I am considering publishing it. If you would like to use it for free to teach a class, you can send me a message with information about who you are, the school you work at, and how you plan on using it in the class. I would also require that you give me feedback. You can send me a message using the form below.
April 16, 2012
According to a meta-analysis of existing studies, argument mapping classes are by far the most effective at improving critical thinking.
Claudia María Álvarez Ortiz completed an in-depth analysis regarding the most effective forms of critical thinking education in 2007. Her MA thesis was Does Philosophy Improve Critical Thinking Skills? It can be downloaded for free right here in PDF format. She wanted to know how effective philosophy classes are at teaching critical thinking compared to other classes. Her study provides evidence for the following conclusions: (more…)
June 19, 2011
I have discussed the importance of understanding logical form and how to create formal counterexamples. Understanding logic well is a lot easier when we know something about logical validity, and one way to better understand logical validity is to consider an argument that proves an argument to be valid. If we can know why an argument can be valid, then we can know more about logical validity in general. I will now produce a proof of logical validity here. It can take some time to understand the proof, so you might want to take your time to read it carefully. (more…)
June 17, 2011
I have already described formal logic, explained why it’s important for proper reasoning, and described how we can prove arguments to be logically invalid through counterexamples. I will now give examples of valid and invalid logical arguments to help illustrate the difference and help us learn how to identify the difference in everyday life. I will give 10 examples of arguments that could be either valid or invalid, but I won’t give the answers to the examples right away to give you a chance to think about the answers on your own. Then I will give the answers in another section below and justify my answer using counterexamples when possible. I will also justify why various argument forms are valid, but these justifications are a bit complicated and you can skip that part if it gives you a headache. It’s possible that the arguments below make use of poor reasoning that is unrelated to logical validity, but logical validity is my only concern here. (more…)
I have already described formal logic and explained why it’s important for proper reasoning. One of the best ways to learn formal logic is to take a logic class. However, we don’t have to take a class just to learn the basics and improve our intuitive grasp of formal logic. What I want to do here is explain how to use counterexamples to prove an argument to be logically invalid. This can help improve our understanding of logic and help us prove arguments to be logically invalid. (more…)
June 16, 2011
One common way to learn about good reasoning is to pick apart arguments by spotting errors in reasoning and applying our knowledge of epistemic principles in various contexts. In other words, we can improve our rational thinking through practice. Once we can better criticize other people’s arguments, we can learn to better criticize our own. I will describe twenty examples of poor reasoning and one example of good reasoning, but I won’t immediately explain why I think the examples use poor reasoning. Instead, my answers will be listed in a separate section. You are encouraged to think about why each of these examples are examples of poor or good reasoning before reading my answers. If two arguments are presented in an example, then consider why there are errors in the reasoning of the objection rather than the positive argument. It is possible that my answers are mistaken or incomplete, but I will defend them. It’s possible for more than one error to be made, but my focus will be on the most serious failings of each argument rather than the less serious ones. Additionally, the focus here is not on false premises or conclusions as much as poor reasoning. That’s not to say that false assumptions don’t play an important role in poor reasoning in general. (more…)