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Critical Thinking: Chapter 3 Clear Thinking, Critical Thinking and Clear Writing.

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Presentation on theme: "Critical Thinking: Chapter 3 Clear Thinking, Critical Thinking and Clear Writing."— Presentation transcript:

1 Critical Thinking: Chapter 3 Clear Thinking, Critical Thinking and Clear Writing

2 Organization and Focus You can’t write well if you are not organized! Your essay should support your position or answer anticipated objections.

3 Organization and Focus Use good examples! Make your point, back it up, give an example, and then move on to your next point.

4 Five Good Writing Practices 1. Outlining is important. 2. Revising is very important. 3. Have someone else read your essay and make suggestions. 4. Read your essay out loud. 5. Come back to it later.

5 The Principle of Focus Make clear at the outset what issue you intend to address and what your position on the issue will be.

6 The Principle of Sticking to the Issue All points you make in an essay should be connected to the issue under discussion.

7 The Principle of Logical Sequencing Make a point before clarifying it and make sure your reader can discern the relationship between any given sentence and your ultimate goal.

8 The Principle of Completeness Support fully and adequately whatever position you take on an issue.

9 Five Common Problems 1. Define your terms! Any serious attempt to support or sustain a position requires a clear statement of what is at issue. Sometimes stating what is at issue involves a careful definition of key terms.

10 Types of Definitions 1. Definition by example 2. Definition by synonym, and 3. Analytical definition

11 Definition by Example Pointing to, naming, or describing one or more examples of something to which the defined term applies. Example: What I mean by setting a good example is not putting your feet on the table.

12 Definition by Example Examples: Happiness is having your own DVD burner. A professional bureaucrat is anyone like our former Governor Davis, who spent a lifetime in government. Real property? Why, your house and land are real property.

13 Definition by Synonym Giving another word or phrase that means the same thing. Examples: “Poltroonery” means the same thing as “cowardice.” “Dacha” is another word for “Russian country house.”

14 Definition by Synonym Examples: “Hit me” means the same as “Give me another card.” Being an octogenarian is being in one’s eighties. To fledge an arrow is to fletch or feather it.

15 Analytical Definition Specifying (a) the type of thing the term applies to and (b) the difference between the things the term applies to and other things of the same type. Example: A deciduous tree is a hardwood tree that loses its leaves during the winter.

16 Analytical Definition Examples: “Widow” refers to a woman whose husband has died. Honor means being willing to lay down your life for a just cause. Meat that contains larval worms is said to be measly.

17 Five Common Problems 2. Keep your word choices simple. Good writing is often simple writing: It avoids redundancy, unnecessary complexity, and wordiness. Example: Why write armed gunmen? Gunmen are automatically armed.

18 Simple Word Choices Example: Why write: “They expressed their belief that at that point in time it would accord with their desire not to delay their departure” when all that is necessary is “They said they wanted to leave”?

19 Simple Word Choices Because the world is a complicated place, the language we use to describe it often has to be correspondingly complicated. Sometimes it is necessary to be complicated to be clear. But, in general, simplicity is the best policy.

20 Five Common Problems 3. Avoiding ambiguity. A claim is an ambiguous claim if it can be assigned more than one meaning and if the particular meaning it should be assigned is not made clear by context.

21 Avoiding Ambiguity 3. Avoiding ambiguity A. Semantic ambiguity is ambiguous due to a particular word or phrase. Examples: She disputed his claim. Did she dispute his statement or his claim to a gold mine?

22 Semantic Ambiguity Example: My brother doesn’t use glasses. What does “glasses” mean? He does not drink out of glasses or he does not have eye glasses? Avoid ambiguity by substituting an unambiguous word such as eyeglasses for glasses. Sometimes you will need several extra words.

23 Five Common Problems 3. Avoiding ambiguity B. Syntactic ambiguity is ambiguous because of the structure of the sentence rather than a word or phrase as with semantic ambiguity. The words are not confusing but the word order is.

24 Syntactic Ambiguity Example: He chased the girl in his car. What does this mean? Did he chase a girl already inside his car? Or did he chase a girl (perhaps in another car) with his car?

25 Syntactic Ambiguity Example:There’s somebody in the bed next to me. What does this mean? Whose bed? Are you in a dorm room where there are more than one bed and in another bed there is a body, or did you wake up to find someone in your bed?

26 Pronouns The boys chased the girls, and they giggled a lot. Who giggled? Who does the pronoun “they” refer to?

27 Avoiding Ambiguity The only way to eliminate syntactic ambiguity is to rewrite the claim. For example, “he brushed his teeth on the carpet” could be rewritten as “he brushed his teeth while standing on the carpet.”

28 Five Common Problems 3. Avoiding ambiguity C. A grouping ambiguity means “whenever we refer to a collection of individuals, we must clearly show whether the reference is to the collection as a group or as individuals.”

29 Grouping Ambiguity Example: Secretaries make more money than physicians. Individually, no; as a group, yes. Whenever we refer to a a collection of individuals, we must clearly show whether the reference is to the collection as a group or as individuals.

30 Five Common Problems 3. Avoiding ambiguity D. The fallacy of composition means that we confuse when something holds true of a group of things individually then they will automatically hold true of the same things as a group.

31 The Fallacy of Composition Example: Sampras and Agassi are the two best tennis players in the United States, so they would make the best doubles team. Is this true? Just because they can play best individually does not mean that if you put them together they would be the best couples team.

32 Five Common Problems 3. Avoiding ambiguity E. The fallacy of division is when a person who thinks that what holds true for a group will necessarily hold true of all the individuals in that group.

33 The Fallacy of Division Example: The Eastman School of Music has an outstanding international reputation; therefore, so and so, who is on the faculty of Eastman, must have a good reputation. Not true. Just because you go to a good school does not mean that every teacher will be good.

34 Examples of Ambiguity “Priestess” was hooker to jury (AP headline). There will be over one hundred consolation prizes worth over $10,000. The girls played with the boys. Why you want sex changes as you age.

35 Analytical Definitions “Adult beverage” is anything that will get you drunk and make you act like an adolescent.

36 Analytical Definitions Skiing—outdoor fun combined with knocking down trees with your face. —Dave Barry

37 Analytical Definitions “Conservative, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from a liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.” —Ambrose Bierce

38 Five Common Problems 4. Vague claims can be confused with ambiguous claims, but they are different. Ambiguous claims can mean different things and we are unsure what to pick. Vague claims mean we are unsure of any meaning.

39 Vague Claims Vagueness is not really the problem so much as an undesirable degree of vagueness. Even though a claim may be less precise than it could be, that does not mean it is less precise than is should be. It depends on what you need the information for.

40 Vague Claims Example: If you want to move your car and you ask the usher how long you have until the play begins, the reply “Only a minute or two” is less precise than is possible, but it will work. It means you don’t have enough time. But you might want a more precise time if you are the lead actor in the film.

41 Examples of Vagueness Men burn off 438 calories per hour gardening. Doctor: The arrhythmia you are experiencing indicates that you should lay off jogging for awhile. “Your satisfaction is guaranteed with our two-year limited guarantee.”

42 Five Common Problems 5. Making faulty comparisons. This is especially a problem with politicians and advertisers. Think about things like “Cut by up to half.” But how much really? “Now 25 percent larger.” Larger than what?

43 Questions for Comparisons Is important information missing? Is the same standard of comparison being used? Are the items comparable? Is the comparison expressed as an average?

44 Averages Statistics are notoriously slippery partially because there are three different ways of talking about averages, the mean, the median, and the mode.

45 Mean Average The arithmetic mean of a group of numbers is the number that results when their sum is divided by the number of members in the group. Example: “The average grade in the class is total of all the grade points divided by the number of people in the class.”

46 Median Average In a group of numbers, as many numbers of the group are larger than the median as smaller. Example: “The average grade in the class is the halfway grade, which half the class exceeded and half the class fell short of.”

47 Mode Average In a group of numbers, the mode is the number occurring most frequently. Example: The average grade in the class is the most common grade given.”

48 Writing in a Diverse Society Part of what people have to decide when listening to you (or reading your work) is whether or not you are credible. And using poor language lowers your credibility, just as using poor arguments does.

49 Writing in a Diverse Society “it is important to avoid writing in a manner that reinforces questionable assumptions and attitudes about people…”

50 Writing in a Diverse Society Thinking critically is about being better able to think in more depth about more complex issues. So much of our stereotypic use of language is a result of lazy thinking and easy clichés.

51 Exercises For each of the following, indicate whether the definition given is by example, by synonym, or analytical. A loquacious person is a talkative one.

52 Exercises For each of the following, indicate whether the definition given is by example, by synonym, or analytical. A loquacious person is a talkative one. By synonym

53 Exercises For each of the following, indicate whether the definition given is by example, by synonym, or analytical. A diode is a solid-state electronic device that allows the passage of an electric current in only one direction.

54 Exercises For each of the following, indicate whether the definition given is by example, by synonym, or analytical. A diode is a solid-state electronic device that allows the passage of an electric current in only one direction. Analytical

55 Exercises For each of the following, indicate whether the definition given is by example, by synonym, or analytical. The oud is a stringed musical instrument shaped much like a guitar and played primarily in Middle Eastern countries.

56 Exercises For each of the following, indicate whether the definition given is by example, by synonym, or analytical. The oud is a stringed musical instrument shaped much like a guitar and played primarily in Middle Eastern countries. Analytical

57 Exercises For each of the following, indicate whether the definition given is by example, by synonym, or analytical. “Epistemologist” means a philosopher or other intellectual who studies the nature of knowledge.

58 Exercises For each of the following, indicate whether the definition given is by example, by synonym, or analytical. “Epistemologist” means a philosopher or other intellectual who studies the nature of knowledge. Analytical

59 Exercises For each of the following, indicate whether the definition given is by example, by synonym, or analytical. “Foppish” means “dandy.”

60 Exercises For each of the following, indicate whether the definition given is by example, by synonym, or analytical. “Foppish” means “dandy.” Synonym

61 Exercises Determine which of these claims are best classified as semantically ambiguous (and which of those contain grouping ambiguities), which are syntactically ambiguous, and which are free from ambiguity. Semantic ambiguity is ambiguous due to a particular word or phrase.

62 Exercises Semantic ambiguity is ambiguous due to a particular word or phrase. Syntactic ambiguity is ambiguous because of the structure of the sentence rather than a word or phrase as with semantic ambiguity. The words are not confusing but the word order is.

63 Exercises Determine which of these claims are best classified as semantically ambiguous (and which of those contain grouping ambiguities), which are syntactically ambiguous, and which are free from ambiguity. People who go shopping often go broke.

64 Exercises Determine which of these claims are best classified as semantically ambiguous (and which of those contain grouping ambiguities), which are syntactically ambiguous, and which are free from ambiguity. People who go shopping often go broke. Semantically ambiguous: “go broke,” and syntactically ambiguous: does “often” go with “shopping” or with “go broke”?

65 Exercises Determine which of these claims are best classified as semantically ambiguous (and which of those contain grouping ambiguities), which are syntactically ambiguous, and which are free from ambiguity. All snakes are not poisonous.

66 Exercises Determine which of these claims are best classified as semantically ambiguous (and which of those contain grouping ambiguities), which are syntactically ambiguous, and which are free from ambiguity. All snakes are not poisonous. Syntactically ambiguous

67 Exercises Determine which of these claims are best classified as semantically ambiguous (and which of those contain grouping ambiguities), which are syntactically ambiguous, and which are free from ambiguity. He went to the store but was held up in the process.

68 Exercises Determine which of these claims are best classified as semantically ambiguous (and which of those contain grouping ambiguities), which are syntactically ambiguous, and which are free from ambiguity. He went to the store but was held up in the process. Semantically ambiguous

69 Exercises Determine which of these claims are best classified as semantically ambiguous (and which of those contain grouping ambiguities), which are syntactically ambiguous, and which are free from ambiguity. The team was upset.

70 Exercises Determine which of these claims are best classified as semantically ambiguous (and which of those contain grouping ambiguities), which are syntactically ambiguous, and which are free from ambiguity. The team was upset. Semantical ambiguity on “upset” and grouping ambiguity on “team”

71 Exercises Determine which of these claims are best classified as semantically ambiguous (and which of those contain grouping ambiguities), which are syntactically ambiguous, and which are free from ambiguity. She watched him dance with intensity.

72 Exercises Determine which of these claims are best classified as semantically ambiguous (and which of those contain grouping ambiguities), which are syntactically ambiguous, and which are free from ambiguity. She watched him dance with intensity. Syntactically ambiguous

73 Exercises Determine which of these claims are best classified as semantically ambiguous (and which of those contain grouping ambiguities), which are syntactically ambiguous, and which are free from ambiguity. San Francisco (AP)—“A group of citizens angry about the lack of public restrooms downtown is planning a sit-in at City Hall, leaving employees no place to go.”

74 Exercises San Francisco (AP)—“A group of citizens angry about the lack of public restrooms downtown is planning a sit-in at City Hall, leaving employees no place to go.” Semantically and syntactically ambiguous; they work together in this one.

75 Exercises Determine whether these claims are too vague in the contexts that are stated or implied. During his first news conference of the year, the president said today that his administration was going to crack down even harder on international terrorism.

76 Exercises Determine whether these claims are too vague in the contexts that are stated or implied. During his first news conference of the year, the president said today that his administration was going to crack down even harder on international terrorism. Too vague to be very informative; this speaks as much of an attitude as it does of plans to combat terrorism.

77 Exercises Determine whether these claims are too vague in the contexts that are stated or implied. Said at a party: “What did I think of the concert? I thought it was pretty good. You should have been there.”

78 Exercises Determine whether these claims are too vague in the contexts that are stated or implied. Said at a party: “What did I think of the concert? I thought it was pretty good. You should have been there.” Fine, under the circumstances

79 Exercises Determine whether these claims are too vague in the contexts that are stated or implied. My aunt lost most of her possessions when her house burned down last month.

80 Exercises Determine whether these claims are too vague in the contexts that are stated or implied. My aunt lost most of her possessions when her house burned down last month. Sufficiently precise for most contexts; too vague, of course, if the remark is directed to an insurance claims agent

81 Exercises Determine whether these claims are too vague in the contexts that are stated or implied. Well, let’s see. To get to the Woodward Mall, go down this street a couple of blocks, and turn right. Go through several stoplights, turn left, and go just a short way. You can’t miss it.

82 Exercises Determine whether these claims are too vague in the contexts that are stated or implied. Well, let’s see. To get to the Woodward Mall, go down this street a couple of blocks, and turn right. Go through several stoplights, turn left, and go just a short way. You can’t miss it. Hopelessly vague

83 Exercises Determine whether these claims are too vague in the contexts that are stated or implied. I can’t tell you how much I love you. You make me very happy.

84 Exercises Determine whether these claims are too vague in the contexts that are stated or implied. I can’t tell you how much I love you. You make me very happy. Vagueness is not inappropriate here.

85 Exercises Determine whether these claims are too vague in the contexts that are stated or implied. Property owner, showing his property to guests: “The lot extends back to about where that large oak tree stands.”

86 Exercises Determine whether these claims are too vague in the contexts that are stated or implied. Property owner, showing his property to guests: “The lot extends back to about where that large oak tree stands.” Precise enough

87 Exercises Determine whether these claims are too vague in the contexts that are stated or implied. Same property owner, showing his property to a potential buyer: “The lot extends back to about where that large oak tree stands.”

88 Exercises Determine whether these claims are too vague in the contexts that are stated or implied. Same property owner, showing his property to a potential buyer: “The lot extends back to about where that large oak tree stands.” Too vague

89 Exercises For each of the following, give an analytical definition that is flattering. conservative (noun):

90 Exercises For each of the following, give an analytical definition that is flattering. conservative (noun): a person whose political views are guided by the wisdom embodied in traditional institutions

91 Exercises For each of the following, give an analytical definition that is flattering. politician:

92 Exercises For each of the following, give an analytical definition that is flattering. politician: one dedicated to public benefit through governmental service

93 Exercises For each of the following, give an analytical definition that is flattering. liberal:

94 Exercises For each of the following, give an analytical definition that is flattering. liberal: a person whose political philosophy is guided by ideas of democracy, reform, and progress

95 Exercises For each of the following, give an analytical definition that is unflattering. liberal:

96 Exercises For each of the following, give an analytical definition that is unflattering. liberal: a politician who can’t keep out of your wallet.

97 Exercises For each of the following, give an analytical definition that is unflattering. conservative:

98 Exercises For each of the following, give an analytical definition that is unflattering. conservative: a politician who dictates to others what they can do in their bedrooms.

99 Exercises For each of the following, give an analytical definition that is unflattering. physicians:

100 Exercises For each of the following, give an analytical definition that is unflattering. physicians: people who prescribe medicines of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, in human beings of whom they know nothing (attributed to Voltaire)


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