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Chapter 6 Notes

by: Emily Clark

Chapter 6 Notes HNRS 2010

Emily Clark
Introduction to Critical Thinking
Dawn Shinew

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About this Document

This is an outline style of notes for chapter 1 of Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking by M. Neil Browne and Stuart M. Keeley.
Introduction to Critical Thinking
Dawn Shinew
Class Notes
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Emily Clark on Saturday September 12, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to HNRS 2010 at Bowling Green State University taught by Dawn Shinew in Summer 2015. Since its upload, it has received 40 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Critical Thinking in OTHER at Bowling Green State University.


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Date Created: 09/12/15
Asking the Right QHBStiOIlS Chapter 6 What are the Value amp Descriptive Assumptions At first glance every argument appears to make sense Hidden or unstated beliefs may be at least as significant in understanding the argument This reasoning is convincing to you only if you agree with certain unstated ideas that the writer has taken for granted In all arguments there will be certain ideas taken for granted by the writer Until you supply these links you cannot truly understand the argument If you miss the hidden links you will often find yourself believing something that had you been more re ective you would never have accepted The visible surface of an argument will almost always be dressed in its best clothes because the person presenting the argument wishes to encourage you to make the argument your own Careful thought is much more demanding of our energies than another decisionmaking approach The endproduct of critical thinking is someone who is open to multiple points of view assesses those perspectives with reason and then uses that assessment to make decisions about what to believe and what actions to take In arguments you must discover the hidden maneuvers which in actuality are unstated ideas or beliefs Assumptions are Hidden or unstated In uential in determining the conclusion Taken for granted Potentially deceptive Identifying assumptions is more valuable than just the positive impact it has on your own reasoning Numerous assumptions exist in any book discussion or article but you need to be concerned about relatively few You can restrict your search for assumptions to the structure you have already learned to identify There are two places to look for assumptions Assumption s needed for the reasons to support the conclusion Assumptions necessary for a reason to be true Both value and descriptive assumptions are extremely in uential in shaping arguments One extremely important reason for these different conclusions is the existence of value con icts Differing values stem from different frames of reference For ethical or prescriptive arguments an individual s values in uence the reasons they provide and their conclusion Reasons will logically support the conclusion only when the value assumption is added to the reasoning Valueassumptions are takenforgranted beliefs about the relative desirability of certain competing values To identify value assumptions we must go beyond a simple listing of values Because many values are shared values by themselves are not a powerful guide to understanding We attach different levels of intensity to specific values Even though values are often unstated that values preference will still have a major impact on a person s conclusion and how they choose to defend it Value judgements are unstated assertions about value priorities function as value assumptions A person doesn t have the same value priorities without regard to the issue being discussed We hold our value preferences only up to a point Value assumptions are very contextual and we make different values priority when the specifics of the prescriptive issue change When you are aware of typical con icts you can quickly recognize the assumptions being made by a writer When evaluating a controversy try to find several value con icts as a check on yourself A good starting point in finding assumptions is to check the author s background You can often discover value preferences by thinking about the probable assumptions made by a person like the communicator It isn t necessarily true that because a person is a member of a group that they share the particular value assumptions of the group Investigating the writer s background is only a clue It can be misleading unless it is used with care How desirable a consequence is for an argued position will depend on personal value preferences An important means of determining a person s value assumptions is to note the reasons given in support of a conclusion Ask yourself Why are the particular consequences or outcomes presented as reasons so desirable to the person When you identify you should always try to state value priorities Most of our sources of information rarely announce the value assumptions underlying their opinions A major advantage of becoming aware of others value assumptions create a greater appreciation of where people are coming from The choice of value preferences requires reasoning Value preferences require some justification that critical thinkers can consider When you find value assumptions you know pretty well what a writer wants the world to be like Descriptive assumptions are beliefs about the way the world was is or will be Definitional assumptions a type of descriptive assumption where we take for granted one meaning of a term that could have more than one meaning Once you have answered the question On what basis can that conclusion be drawn from that reason the next natural step is to ask Is there any basis for accepting the assumptions If not the reason fails to provide support for the conclusion If so the reason provides logical support for the conclusion Assumptions are as numerous as they are important These assumptions are present so frequently in our thinking that once you learn to look for them you will start to appreciate the power they have over our thinking in general Your task in finding assumptions is to reconstruct the reasoning by filling in the missing links Finding these important missing links requires hard work imagination and creativity U Some clues that will make you search successful are Keep thinking about the gap between the conclusion and reasons Look for unstated ideas that support reasons Identify with the writer speaker Identify with opposition Avoid stating incompletely established reasons as assumptions We make certain assumptions about communicators that for granted and thus do not need to evaluate By trivial we mean a descriptive assumption that is selfevident You can assume that the communicator believes their reasons to be true Another type of trivial assumption concerns the reasoning structure What is important is hoe the reason and conclusion are logically related Avoid spending time analyzing trivial assumptions You may be tempted to conclude that your goal as a writer is to avoid incorporating your value preferences and descriptive beliefs in your writing You will never be able to write without your values and descriptive beliefs in uencing your arguments Writers should be particularly concerned about the in uence of these beliefs in their writing because the beliefs are often unstated or assumed When you believe everyone knows what you are talking about there can be miscommunications because they understood something you wrote differently than you did when you wrote it


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