The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking: Concepts and Tools

Criteria for Evaluating Reasoning

Purpose: What is the purpose of the reasoner? Is the purpose clearly stated or clearly implied? Is it justifiable? Question: Is the question at issue well-stated? Is it clear and unbiased? Does the expressiion of the question do justice to the coomplexity of the matter at issue? Are the question and purpose directly relevant to each other? Information: Does the writer cite relevant evidence, experiences, and/or information essential to the issue? Is the information accurate?

Does the writer address the complexities of the issue? Concepts: Does the writer clarify key concepts when necessary? Are the concepts used justifiably? Assumptions: Does the writer show a sensitivity to what he or she is taking for granted or assuming? (Insofar as those assumptions might reasonably be questioned?) Does the writer use questionable assumptions without addressing problems which might be inherent in those assumptions? Inferences: Does the writer develop a line of reasoning explaining well how s/he is arriving at her or his main conclusions? Point of View: Does the writer show a sensitivity to alternative relevant points of view or lines of reasoning? Does s/he consider and respond to objections framed from other relevant points of view? Implications: Does the writer show a sensitivity to the implications and consdquences of the position s/he is taking?

Universal Intellectual Standards

Clarity Could you elaborate further? Could you give me an example? Could you illustrate what you mean?

Accuracy How could we check on that? How could we find out if that is true? How could we verity or test that?

Precision Could you be more specific? Could you give me more details? Could you be more exact?

Relevance How does that relate to the problem? How does that bear on the question? How does that help us with the issue?

Depth What factors make this a difficult problem? What are some of the complexities of this question? What are some of the difficulties we need to deal with?

Breadth Do we need to look at this from another perspective? Do we need to consider another point of view? Do we need to look at this in other ways?

Logic Does all this make sense together? Does your first paragraph fit in with your last? Does what you say follow from the evidence?

Significance Is this the most important problem to consider? Is this the central idea to focus on? Which of these facts are most important?

Fairness Do I have any vested interest in this issue? Am I sympathetically representing the viewpoints of others? From The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking: Concepts and Tools copyright 2008 Foundation for Critical Thinking Press