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Critical Reading as Reasoning

We have to learn that as a critical reader, you should be able to use textual evidence when
asked by your teacher to support analysis of the implicit and explicit information presented by a
writer in a text.

Given the same text to other readers, you may encounter questions that will really require your
answer. In that case you should have the skills of reasoning out of giving analysis and evaluative
statements.

What is Reasoning?

Reasoning is the process of thinking about things in a logical, rational way. It is considered an
innate human ability that has been formalized by fields such as logic, mathematics and artificial
intelligence.

The process of reasoning is used to make decisions, solve problems and evaluate things. It
can be formal or informal, top-down or bottom-up and differs in terms of handling of uncertainty and
partial truths.

The following are a few major types of reasoning:

Deductive Reasoning

- is a formal method of top-down logic that seeks to find observations to prove a theory. It uses
formal logic and produces logically certain results.

Examples: “Since all humans are mortal, and I am a human, then I am


mortal.”
“Since all squares are rectangle, and all rectangles have four sides, so all squares have four
sides.”

Inductive Reasoning

-is a bottom-up logic that seeks theories to explain observations. It is exploratory in nature and
allows for uncertain but likely results.

Examples: “The chair in the living room is red. The chair in the dining room is red. The chair in the
bedroom is red. All chairs in the house are red.”
“Every time you eat peanuts, your throat swells up and you can't breathe. So, you are
allergic to peanuts.”

Abductive Reasoning

-is the third form of logical reasoning and is somewhat similar to inductive reasoning. It was first
introduced by the term “guessing”, since conclusions drawn here are based on probabilities. In
abductive reasoning it is presumed that the most plausible conclusion is also the correct one.

Example: “The jar is filled with yellow marbles. Bob has a yellow marble in his hand. The yellow marble
in Bob’s hand was taken out of the jar.”
“If it’s raining then it’s cloudy. It’s wet and raining. Perhaps when it’s cloudy it’s wet?”

FORMULATING EVALUATIVE STATEMENTS

What is an Evaluative Statement?

 It is a way of giving better explanation to show the strength and the weaknesses of something
through writing.

 It presents a value judgment based on a set of criteria.

 It is used in giving a sound judgment – a judgment that can be backed up or supported by


valid reasons or proofs.
 It is the writer’s way of explaining why strength is strength and a weakness a weakness based
on the evidence gathered.

HOW TO FORMULATE AN EVALUATIVE STATEMENT?

Evaluative statements about a text are formulated after having read the text carefully and
critically, grasping the essence of the text and checking for possible fallacies in the argument.

The formulation of the evaluative statements is done in the same way you do any other
writing except that the statement is about your judgment of the text’s content and property.

You may compose your evaluative statements in two steps:

1. Formulating Assertions about the Content and the Properties of a text Read.

2. Formulating a meaningful counterclaim in response to a claim made in the text read.

Formulating Assertions about the Content and the Properties of a text Read.

In this step, you have to examine which ideas are facts or opinions, make inferences or
conclusions, and assess the overall quality of the text. These assertions usually contain evaluative
languages such as useful, significant, important, insightful, detailed, up-to-date, comprehensive,
practical, etc.

What is an Assertion?

When someone makes a statement investing his strong belief in it, as if it is true, though it may
not be, he is making an assertion. Assertion is a stylistic approach or technique involving a strong
declaration, a forceful or confident and positive statement regarding a belief or a fact. Often, it is
without proof or any support. Its purpose is to express ideas or feelings directly, for instance, “I have
put my every effort to complete this task today.”

Types of Assertion

Assertion has four types, including:

Basic Assertion

It is a simple and straightforward statement for expressing feelings, opinions, and beliefs such as:

 “I wish I could have expressed this idea earlier, because now someone else has taken the
credit.”

 “Excuse me, first I want to finish my work, then I shall go with you.”

Emphatic Assertion

It conveys sympathy to someone, and usually has two parts: the first encompasses recognition of
the feelings or situations of the other person, and the second is a statement that shows support for
the other person’s viewpoint, feelings, or rights such as:

 “I understand you are busy, and me too, but it is difficult for me to finish this project on my own.
So, I want you to help me complete this project.”
 “I know this is making you angry and frustrated because you have not gotten a response yet.
But I can help you by giving you an estimate of how long it might take.”
Escalating Assertion

It occurs when someone is not able to give a response to a person’s basic assertions, and
therefore that person becomes firm about him or her such as:

 “If you do not finish this work by 6:00 tonight, I I will engage the services of another worker.”
 “I really want to finish this point before you start yours.”

Language Assertion

It involves the first person pronoun “I,” and is useful for expressing negative feelings. Nevertheless, it
constructively lays emphasis on a person’s feelings of anger such as:

 “When you speak harshly, I cannot work with you because I feel annoyed. Therefore, I want
you to speak nicely and then assign me a task.”
 “When I don’t get enough sleep, it affects my nerves and I feel irritated. Therefore, I try to go to
bed earlier.”

Formulating a meaningful counterclaim in response to a clam made in the text read.

What is a Counterclaim?

Counterclaim is the opposition you make about the claim of a writer.

These following are the types of Counterclaim:

Permissive counterclaim

-is a claim brought by a defendant against a plaintiff in the situation where the defendant's
claim does not arise from the same transaction or occurrence as the plaintiff's claim. Therefore, if the
defendant does not raise the claim in the pending cause of action, it is not waived, and the
defendant is free to bring an independent action on the claim.

Compulsory Counterclaim

-is a claim made by a defendant against a plaintiff that arises from the same transaction or
occurrence as the plaintiff's claim. The claim is compulsory in this situation in that it must be raised in
the defendant's answer, or it is waived. If defendant fails to assert counterclaim in his answer, he is
thereafter precluded from asserting it against plaintiff in the plaintiff's pending action or in an
independent action.

You must recognize the value of the hedges when you state your counterclaims.

Hedges

-is a word or phrase that minimizes negative impact of criticism.

When presenting a counterclaim, you are providing criticism since you are stating that the
claim is not true. Hedge is used to give a courteous tone in your writing.

Some forms of Hedges

Frequency Adverbs

-adverbs that change or qualify the meaning of a sentence by telling us how often or how
frequently something happens are defined as adverbs of frequency. Like always, constant, generally,
frequently, often and etc.

Example Sentences:
I usually get up late on Saturdays.
I always do my homework on time.
She goes out occasionally.

Probability Adverbs

-adverbs that are used to show how sure we are about a situation or an event. The most
common adverbials of probability are: definitely, certainly, clearly, obviously, possibly, perhaps,
probably, maybe.

Example Sentences:
We will definitely be there tomorrow.
She is certainly coming to the party.
It is clearly going to be wonderful weather tomorrow.

Auxiliary Verbs

-auxiliary (or helping) verbs are used together with a main verb to show the verb’s tense or to
form a negative or question. The most common auxiliary verbs are have, be, and do.

Example Sentences:
Does Sam write all his own reports?
The secretaries haven’t written all the letters yet.
Terry is writing an e-mail to a client at the moment.

Modal

-a modal is a type of auxiliary (helping) verb that is used to express: ability, possibility,
permission or obligation. Modal phrases (or semi-modals) are used to express the same things as
modals, but are a combination of auxiliary verbs and the preposition to. The modals and semi-modals
in English are: Can/could/be able to, may/might, shall/should, must/have to, will/would.

Example Sentences:
I can speak a little Russian,
May I sit down, please?

DETERMINING TEXTUAL EVIDENCE

What is an Evidence?

Evidence is most commonly thought of as proof supporting a claim or belief.

Function of an Evidence

When writing something about literature, or writing about a particular text, a writer needs to
strengthen his discussion by providing powerful answers from the text as evidence of the questions he
raises. It is not enough to just simply drop in quotations around the text and expect their relevance
and importance of his arguments to be self-evident.

The fact is that simply making a claim and making an argument does nothing to convince
the audience. The audience will only believe what the writer or the speaker has to say if he proffers
strong evidence to back up his arguments. Therefore, evidence not only helps the writer convince his
readers, but also persuades them to feel sympathy, or to support his argument. Mostly political
speakers, research writers, and editorial writers use evidence extensively to turn public opinion for or
against some issue.

What is Textual Evidence?

Textual evidence is support for your analysis that comes directly from the text itself. When you
analyze a text, you want your readers to know what the author actually says rather than merely your
interpretation of the author's ideas. This means that you quote, paraphrase, and/or summarize the
author's words to support your points.
How to determine Textual Evidence?

Before you can begin the search for that illusive textual evidence, you must first determine what
point you’d like to prove. Does the tragic hero’s life crumble about his feet because of his stubborn pride?
Does the author use descriptive language to set a particularly dark tone? Once and only once you know
what you’d like to prove can you identify a piece of

Once you know what argument you’d like to make, begin the search for evidence: Find a portion
of the text that supports your idea and then locate the most important part of that evidence. Maybe it’s
dialogue that points to a character flaw or a snippet of scintillating imagery. Is there a particular word or
phrase that is essential to your argument? If you removed that word or phrase, would the evidence be as
convincing? Consider the words’ definitions, the feelings they evoke, and the context of the situation.

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