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Cassidy Shostak
Dr. Lance Griggs
ED 4391
5 December 2017

CRITICAL THINKING PORTFOLIO ASSIGNMENT

Definitions of Critical Thinking


1. Critical Thinking is a mode of quality thinking that assesses an issue in a reasonable
and reflective way that allows us to form a rational conclusion.
2. Critical Thinking is a way of learning that is considers options and assesses these
options using criteria to draw a judgment. Critical Thinking is coming to a reasoned
judgment by objectively analyzing and examining an issue.
3. Critical Thinking is determining a conclusion reflectively by examining our own
thinking, the thinking of others, and the information presented to us.

Inquiry
Inquiry is the careful process of analyzing, assessing, and evaluating an issue to
form a reasonable and rational judgment. Inquiry is actively trying to uncover knowledge
and form an understanding. Inquiry centres around and first begins with focusing on an
issue. Secondly, inquiry involves the careful examination of an issue, which means we
must not accept our existing views without consideration. Finally, inquiry involves
coming to a well-thought reasoned judgment on the issue of inquiry. By evaluating and
analyzing data, arguments, and sources we are actively attempting to come to a rational
conclusion, which is the ultimate aim for any inquiry.

Guidelines for Inquiry


There are five guidelines for inquiry: The Issue, Claims/Judgements, Relevant
Reasons and Arguments, Context of the Issue, and Comparatively Evaluate Reasons to
Reach a Judgement. Parties undergoing inquiry can work through the five questions to
guide the inquiry process.
1. What is the issue? Inquirers need to become clear about what exactly are
the issues at stake and which will be the focus of the inquiry. Inquirers must
separate out the various issues, if there is more than one issue presented,
and the relationship between them.
2. What kinds of claims or judgments are at issue? Thinkers must decide
what type of judgment is presented for inquiry. The different types of
judgments are factual judgments, evaluative judgments, and interpretive
judgments.
3. What are the relevant reasons and arguments on various sides of the issue?
Inquirers must look at the view and positions from all sides of an issue and
include the reasons and evidence, which support these positions. In addition,
thinkers participating in inquiry must also consider the objections to the
reasons and the responses.
4. What is the context of the issue? Thinker must consider the history of
arguments and debate of views and opposing views of ideas. It is important to
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understand the background and history of an issue to see what aspects are
relevant in coming to a reasoned judgment. This allows for full understanding
and evaluation of the issue of inquiry and clarifies aspects within the topic.
These kinds of contexts may be: the state of practice, history of the debate,
and the intellectual, social, political or historical frameworks.
5. How do we comparatively evaluate the various reasons and arguments to
read a reasoned judgment? Once, at this step, the various supportive
evidence and arguments inquirers must evaluate these in comparison to one
another to form a reasoned judgment. Strengths and weaknesses of the
various reasonings must be taken into account and assessed based on
criteria and various considerations.

A Reasoned Judgment
A reasoned judgment is the most important feature of critical inquiry. When
inquirers are examining an issue they come to a reasoned judgment. This is a judgment
based on critical evaluation of information, claims, and arguments. By using critical
evaluation, parties assess the arguments on the many sides of an issue, by the
strengths and weaknesses, unbiased by any opinion. The thinker arrives at a reasoned
judgment after examining and analyzing supporting arguments. Critical evaluation is the
center to inquiry, and to practice its process helps an inquirer discover knowledge
deeper then data collecting but evaluating arguments in terms that helps decide on the
best view to hold. It is also possible that multiple parties of an inquiry do not agree to
one judgment about a particular issue, which is not the aim of inquiry. Inquirers can
arrive at a respectful disagreement on their on their own reasoned positions on an
issue.
For Example: During the federal election, the voter looked through each of the
candidates platforms based on a personal criteria of what was important to the voter.
The voter reviewed, compared, and evaluated the platforms based on his or hers
criteria without previous opinions or judgments. The voter used the information and
knowledge gained to then come to a reasoned judgment of whom he or she was going
to vote for in the upcoming election.

An Issue
An issue is a challenge, controversy, or difference of view, which can be the
focus for inquiry. It is formed by a contradiction of opposing beliefs, opinions, and/or
arguments by multiple parties. An issue involves matters that are up for a debate,
unsettled, or a question where people generally disagree or is a challenge to answer.
For Example: The issue of whether or not the United States of America need to
craft legislation in relation to gun laws and gun control. There are many opposing
parties in regard to this issue up for debate. Arguments that believe that the United
States need more laws to prevent mass shoots calling for smarter gun laws,
background checks and more protections against the mentally ill buying guns. The
opposing argument would be against implementing more gun laws, who believe in the
right to own guns, to protect themselves, and that guns dont harm people, people do.
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Key Characteristics of an Issue:


Focus: The focus of an issue should not be too broad or general, therefore, it is
important to limit the scope to specific aspects that are relevant to the task at
hand. If an issue is too general it will be difficult for thinkers to participate in
inquiry with particular detail and may not do the issue justice. When an issue is
framed to a better focus critical thinkers are able to participate in inquiry in regard
to an issues complexities and applicable aspects.

Phrased as a Question: In order to get at what is under debate an issue needs


to be formulated as a question. When an issue is framed as a question, critical
thinkers are able to investigate the issue further with a more attention to the
specific issue at hand rather than the many branches that are formed around a
particular topic. For example, if the topic of Police Brutality and Black Lives
Matter was presented for a critical thinking investigation, it is impossible for
thinkers to fully understand what exactly is under debate. Of course, there are
many topics that can branch from this one topic, phrasing a topic as a question
helps with focus the issue as well as drive the analysis to better for judgment.

Precision: To ensure a beneficial inquiry, the statement of inquiry must be clear


and precise rather than vague. Critical thinkers need to know exactly what claim,
issue, or question is under discussion. With an overly vague statement thinkers
run the risk of opening the discussion to multiple questions that require multiple
answers.

Controversy: An inquiry cannot be directed towards information or situations


that are generally agreed upon or known. An issue must at least two, but most
likely multiple, plausible arguments and sides. A situation where there is a
generally agreed upon judgment cannot be dissected and reflected critically in
the same terms as an issue with multiple views. A thinker must look at the issue
and consider the many arguments while analyzing and evaluating before arriving
at a rational conclusion.

Neutrality: An issue should be framed in a neutral manner as much as possible,


ultimately in such a way that the various contending parties would agree to the
formulation. The way an issue is presented can slant inquiry towards a particular
direction based on the language used, which could inhibit fair judgment to all
sides of an issue. Certain ways of framing an issue may prevent thinkers to
examine all side of an issue since some arguments are eliminated by the use of
framing before the inquiry process begins. The use of neutrality prevents this
when posing a question of inquiry.

Criteria
Criteria specify the relevant considerations that provide the basis for making a
judgment. We use criteria to better judge our critical inquiry while still upholding a set
standard when comparing arguments, claims, and views. Criteria can be general but
more often are specify to what degree to an argument. It is also important to recognize
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that criteria for making a reasoned judgment must refer to publically available
considerations as well as are specific to particular areas of inquiry.
For Example: When purchasing a new car, customers must consider a set
criteria built by themselves when comparing vehicles to purchase. The criteria when
considering purchasing a car may include affordability, fuel efficiency, comfort,
reliability, safety ratings, year of the model and pleasing appearance/accessories
(navigation, power windows, sun roof, etc.) It is important to consider that some of these
criteria may be more important to different people, for example affordability and
accessories. When considering to which degree, when people are setting a standard for
criteria they may have specifications like costs less then $30,000, must be no older
than a 2015, etc.

Sound Argument
A sound argument is a valid deductive argument with true premises, therefore in
a valid argument in which the premises are true the conclusion must be true. A sound
argument must be logical, make sense, and fair. This means all information must be
exposed and all arguments must be considered.
For Example: All angles of a triangle add up to 180 degrees. Geometric figure
ABC is a triangle. Therefore, geometric figure ABC angles add up to 180 degrees.

Valid Deductive Argument


Valid deductive arguments are arguments in which if the premises are true, the
conclusion must be true. The relationship between the premises and the conclusion in a
valid deductive argument is called entailment. When considering a valid argument and
all premises are true, a consistent sequence would be all As are B, X is an A therefore
X is a B
For Example: All insects have six legs, a ladybug is an insect therefore, a
ladybug must have six legs.

Inductive Argument
During inductive arguments, the premises provide support for but do not entail
the conclusion. There are two types of inductive arguments: strong inductive argument
and cogent inductive argument.
A strong inductive argument is one in which if the premises are true, there
is a strong reason to believe that the conclusion is also true
For Example: Every time I walk by that dog it hasnt tried to bite me.
Today I will walk by that dog. It is likely it will not try to bite me.
A cogent inductive argument is a strong inductive argument with plausible
premises.
For Example: The Shostak Family ate turkey on Thanksgiving night,
Cassidy is apart of the Shostak family, conclusion, Cassidy ate turkey on
Thanksgiving night.
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Analogical Argument
There are two kinds of arguments by analogy: precedent analogies and casual
analogies.
A precedent analogy is an argument, which attempts to establish a conclusion
on the basis that the circumstances of the case at hand are like those of another
case, which has accepted conclusions. Assuming that there is an agreement
with the conclusion of the other case we should always conclude the same in the
case that is at hand. The most important part to consider in a precedent analogy
is that the similar cases are alike in relevant ways, relevant to the issue to be
considering analogous.
For Example: When considering if marijuana should be prohibited a precedent
to comparable to marijuana is alcohol. Alcohol and marijuana are alike in the
ways that they are both a recreational drug but also present some social and
health problems. Considering legalization, because of the similarities between
the two circumstances, alcohol is legal and by analogy, the conclusion is
marijuana should be legal.
A casual analogy is an attempt to understand one phenomenon by comparing it
to another. It is using an argument, which suggests that because two
phenomenon share similar qualities or relevant aspects, the casual properties of
one will be like the casual properties of another. It is when a situation or event is
being considered and compared to a previous and similar event drawing
conclusions that what happened then will likely occur now or what worked then
is likely to occur now.
For Example: A common for of this argument is a historical analogy when one
tries to use their understanding pervious historical evens to predict what would
happen in the present day if similar steps were taken. When considering
prohibiting marijuana and comparing the situation during the 1920s where
alcohol was prohibited. During the event during the 1920s it was seen that the
law of alcohol prohibition was ineffective, increased organized crime, and that
law-abiding citizens were breaking the law.

A Fallacy
A fallacy is a common type of weak claim or argument; however, tends to have
persuasive power. It is important to be aware of fallacies, as they are illegitimate
argumentative points that often move away from the issue at stake. Fallacies can have
the ability to alter a thinkers opinion ultimately undermining the issue at hand.
For Example: An example of a fallacy is Post Hoc Fallacy, this is an argument
that states since event B followed event A, then event B must have been caused by
event A. The Latin translation of the full phrase, Post hoc ergo propter hoc is, after this,
therefore because of this. This fallacy argues the logical sequence of events rather
factual arguments to support their opinion. A popular example of Post Hoc Fallacy is the
argument of vaccinations causing children to develop autism. Event A, in this particular
argument, would be the children receiving their vaccinations; event B is the childs
diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. This theory has been later proved untrue, with
studies and research; however, their still are parties arguing this Post Hoc Fallacy
argument for the co-relation between the two events.
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Ideological Fixity
An ideological fixity is an unwavering and unquestioning commitment to a
political, social, or philosophical position.
For Example: As voters in a democracy, it is common that people seek out the
platforms of the their desired political views. For example, someone who self declares
their political view as conservative may only vote the conservative candidate regardless
of agreeing to their platform. Most of the time, voters do not compare platforms among
candidates but rather focus on their desired political view and because of this, voters do
not have all of the information from all candidates becoming uninformed voters when
casting their ballot. This commitment to a particular ideology is common in the United
States as well creating a divide between democratic and republican parties being very
committed to their particular side of politics without considering the platforms of the
particular person running for president.

Groupthink
Groupthink occurs when the pressure for a group consensus results in members
of the group failing to critically examine or present alternative or opposing views. The
group is more concerned with the collective unity rather than evaluating opposing
arguments. This phenomenon occurs when a group makes uninformed decisions for the
sake of reaching a consensus.
For Example: A historical example and tragic case study of Groupthink is during
World War II with the relation between the Germans and the genocide against Jewish
people. Germany, as a political mass, did not critically evaluate the argument against
Jewish people and was very concerned about the collective unity of Germany for
strength. Having a strong leader has the potential to create Groupthink among people,
making it more difficult to present opposing views or consider alternative arguments.

Confirmation Bias
Confirmation bias is the tendency to seek out and focus on reasonings and
arguments that support and confirm our views and ignore information that may counter
those view or opinions.
For Example: If a student is writing a research paper, it is possible for people to
fall victim to confirmation bias when seeking out researched information that only
supports their thesis. Students actively finding research that supports their paper are not
getting the proper arguments for and importantly against particular views. When
researching, students need to be critical when analyzing all types of views and
arguments including all views in their paper to properly execute a researched thesis
rather then only including facts that support their views.

Loaded Language
Loaded language is when the meaning of words and their connotation are used
to affect and slant the direction of inquiry because of the particular images or emotions
that may conjure up. Different words with different connotations can be used to appeal
to specific emotions describing the same phenomenon.
For Example: An example of loaded language, is the issue of pro-choice or pro-
life, the way to slant the direction of this issue is changing the words in the pro-life
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argument to play on specific emotions. Pro-life supporters can change the vocabulary
from abortion to child murder, therefore, appealing a different emotional message for
the same event. This could sway the opinions, distracting thinkers away from the issue
at hand, because of the emotional ties to certain vocabulary.

Factual Judgment
A factual judgment is a judgment of facts therefore focusing on describing or
explaining some aspect of the way the world is. They are simply judgments that
describe or explain; however, like judgments are fallible and are subject to change when
presented with new information, evidence, or arguments. Factual judgments can be
furthered categorized into descriptive judgments and explanatory judgments.
For Example:
Descriptive judgments describe state of affairs and generally arrived through
observations. Much of the time answers to descriptive judgments are not great
issues for inquiry but answer relevant questioned that are necessary for
addressing other issues. An example of a descriptive judgment would be, In the
United States, how many people died due to gun violence in 2016?
Explanatory judgments aim to explain how phenomena functions or why they
occur. These judgments too are based on observation; however, tries to
understand the relationships among the phenomena observed. An example of
this would be, Playing violent video games causes violent behaviour in
children.

Evaluative Judgment
An evaluative judgement is a judgment, which expresses an evaluation or
assessment of an object, action, or phenomenon. They can be validated by arguments;
however, different in nature than arguments supporting factual judgment. There are
three types of evaluative judgments: moral or ethical judgments, aesthetic judgments,
and instrumental judgments.
For Example:
Ethical judgments deal with questions of what is right or wrong, an
example of this judgment could be, Should it be legal to allow physician
assisted suicide to patients who are not competent and unable to express
their autonomy?
Aesthetic judgments deal with questions having to do with the sensory,
perceptual, or formal properties of objects and experiences most often
these judgments come up when considering the arts. An example of this
would be, Did Adeles album, Hello deserve to win the Grammy for record
of the year and album of the year?
Instrumental judgments deal with questions having to do with reasoning
about the means to an end goal. What would be the most effective policy
in regard to minimizing dog attacks?

Interpretive Judgment
Interpretive judgments are judgments that deal with questions of meanings. This
judgment allows individuals to form their own opinions based on the information
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presented; however, two people could have two different interpretive judgments based
on the same evidence. The criteria for evaluating an interpretive judgment include:
correspondence with the data as well as the interpretive framework, inclusiveness, and
coherence. Interpretive judgments can be used to describe human behaviour as we
interpret motives of human interaction or behaviour but most commonly is used in the
arts.
For Example: When viewing and interpreting the Academy Award for Best
Picture movie, Moonlight, there are many meanings, messages, and social issues
presented in the film. The message that stood out and resonated to me is that there is a
consistent struggle to be our true selves.