Download e-book for iPad: Critical Thinking: A Concise Guide (2005) by Tracy Bowell

By Tracy Bowell

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Once we have determined that a text or a speech contains an argument, we must work out which sentence is intended to express the argument’s conclusion and which are intended to express its premises. Words that serve as conclusion indicators and premise indicators offer a helpful (but not foolproof) guide to doing so successfully. We should also pay close attention to the context of the text or speech. Setting out arguments in standard form is a five-stage process that enables us to see the form of arguments better and hence, to compare, analyse and assess them more easily.

To a great extent, we take these sorts of vagueness in our stride, having become used to interpreting these phenomena unreflectively in ordinary language. But even the simplest cases can cause misunderstandings. Suppose your boss promises that you’re going to receive a ‘big pay rise’ this year. When you receive the pay increase you discover that the rise is only 10p an hour. When you complain, your boss defends their promise by saying that the rise is bigger than last year’s and therefore big in comparison (see the section on implicit relativity, pp.

E Excessive consumption by consumers in the developed world causes poverty and disease in the developing world and that’s simply unjust. So if we care about the rest of the world, we should curb our consumption. f History will show President Bush to have been a successful president after all. The reason is that he has managed to maintain the USA’s reputation as a super-power and that’s the most important criterion by which to judge a US president. 3 Without looking back at the relevant section, write a paragraph explaining the difference between lexical and syntactic ambiguity, then give a plausible example of each and explain their possible interpretations.

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