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Evaluating Arguments

• The Origins of Critical Thinking


• Understanding and Evaluating Claims
• Preparing for Plato
Origins of Critical Thinking
Here Be Monsters!!
Origins of Critical Thinking
Here Be Monsters!!
Origins of Critical Thinking
Demonic
Possession
But, of course,
now we
know better.*
Epileptic
Seizure
Origins of Critical Thinking
• Age of Enlightenment, circa 1700-1800
Origins of Critical Thinking
• Age of Enlightenment, circa 1700-1900
Origins of Critical Thinking
Some (unfortunate) examples
CT in Modern Times
• Vicks Vapor Rub
Claim:

Eat Vick’s Vapor Rub


and your cold will
disappear.
Problem:

Your cold will disappear


no matter what you eat.
CT in Modern Times
• Kathmandu,
Nepal airlines has twoNepal
747 aircraft. One was malfunctioning.

“The snag in the plane


has now been fixed and
the aircraft has resumed
its flights.”
• Can you think of some strange
beliefs, claims or practices that
you’ve encountered?

• Here are a few…


• Cats steal babies’ breath and
suffocate them!
• If you cross your eyes, they’ll
stay that way!
• Swallowed gum takes ten years
to digest!
• More crime occurs during a full
moon.
• Put butter on a burn!
• This is not to say that
we all don’t have
moments where our
reason “takes a little
time off”.
• Some of these
superstitions do have an
element of truth.
• Example…..
• It’s bad luck to walk
under a ladder.
Critical Thinking
• But…We should try to apply critical
thinking to important issues whenever we
have a chance to deliberate.
• Note that CT really is interested only
in the process by which you reach
your conclusions and NOT so much
in the conclusions themselves.
Claims

• Claims are always statements, never


questions.
• They can be either about matters of
fact or matters of opinion.
Claims

• Matters of Fact – Reason or evidence can


determine the truth or falsity of the claim.
• Matters of Opinion – No amount of reasoning or
evidence can determine the truth or falsity of the
claim.
• Example - Chocolate Ice Cream tastes better than
vanilla.
• Example #2 – Chocolate ice cream outsells
vanilla.
Claims

• Sometimes claims are a blend of both fact


and opinion.
• Example – It’s nicer living in a small town
because there is less violent crime.
Claims

• Important to note: Just because a claim is a


matter of fact does NOT mean that it’s true.
• It only means that we could test for its truth or
falsity.
• There are 10 students in this class right now.
• Let’s look at some examples….What do you
make of these claims? Matter of Fact or Matter of
Opinion? Or too ambiguous to determine.
Mt. Everest is 29,035 feet tall.
Today is Monday.
The U.S. Economy is in bad
shape.
DaVinci’s painting,
“Mona Lisa”
is the world’s
greatest painting.
DaVinci painted the Mona
Lisa.
Math classes are hard.
All bachelors are unmarried
men.
Philosophy classes make you
smarter.
Lil Wayne is more talented
than Eminem.
God Exists.
“Hunger Games” was better
than Twilight.
Implied Claims

• Some claims are not directly stated.


• Sometimes they are simply implied.
• Example…
Dear Professor,
Could you please re-check my grade in your course.
I’m sure it was higher than a “C”. Thank you very
much!
By the way, I think you know my uncle. He’s the Dean
of your department!
Implied Claims

• Some claims are not directly stated.


• Sometimes they are simply implied.
• Example…
Here are some more examples of
implied claims….What are they
claiming, and who is their primary
audience? How effective are they?
Implied Claims
Implied Claims
Implied Claims
Implied Claims
Implied Claims
Implied Claims
Implied Claims
Plato

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