Critical Thinking: Issues, Claims, Arguments

all right so today we are looking at the basic building blocks critical thinking yeah this is not just for critical thinking this applies to a lot of your other classes too every class that you're taking somebody's making claims right you're making claims to if you're writing a paper you are making claims and you're going to be expected to back them up in some way may or may not do that anytime you've had a paper return to you with red ink and the instructor said what's your evidence for this or you know why are you saying this what they were asking you to do was to back up the claim that you're making and claims are connected to issues when people get into arguments in the bad sense of the term you know when we're arguing with each other we're angry we're fighting quite often it's not just that we're making claims we're usually confusing issues so a lot of domestic arguments begin with whether somebody should take the trash out that's an issue whether somebody is a lazy bottom that's a different issue than whether somebody should take the trash out whether a person never does anything around the house and doesn't respect your space or anything like that that's yet a third separate issue right yeah when people mix these issues together this is when things start getting heated also when you're writing papers if you're if you're blurring issues together your thinking is getting confused some people are going to try to blur issues together deliberately in order to manipulate in order to appeal to your views on one issue and sort of transfer them to another so one of the basic skills that you want to develop in the critical thinking class that you're going to apply it in your other classes is being able to tell when a claim is made and then what issue that claim is connected to being able to distinguish different issues from each other arguments here we start getting to the bigger picture when we want to try to convince each other of things that we don't agree on when there's a live issue you're on one side of the table I'm on the other side we don't believe the same thing about some basic issue you have a lot of different alternatives you can fight with somebody physically right you can threaten them you can appeal to their financial interests you can bribe them you can appeal to their emotions right these are all things you can do some some people try to get other people to pity them or to fear or to enjoy being with them and then therefore accept the claims that they made that only takes you so far if you get somebody to accept your claim because you're providing them with money what's going to happen once you quit dividing them with money they'll reject the claim right so think about what happens in the work place I'm assuming that all of you have held a job at one time or another quite often boxes or times the most interesting people you may not find what they're interested in and want to talk about interesting at all that just underneath there but sometimes you have to pretend like you're interested right you're actually accenting to a play okay I need you to sign that good haven't seen my picture to sign that you're actually looking at a claim you know such and such a thing is interesting and you're accepting that claim so long as love so long as they're giving you something yeah what's the incentive a 30 boss very basic all right buddy you want it you want to stay employed if I threaten you that may get you to accept a claim for the time being but that won't work for long especially since I don't really have anything to threaten you know I'll give you a bad grade but if I do there's recourse my my chair and feel it so what do we do we use arguments and when we make army bus what we're doing is we're providing more claims instead of the providing claims that let me check it's still not good instead of providing claims that the other person will accept you start looking for claims that they will accept so if you don't think that you should do the practice oh right I might say something like well you do want to do well in this class right you accept that and they say yeah yeah I accept that well doing the practice homework will help you to do well in the class yeah I accept that well then why don't you do the practice oh you should do the practice moment then you might accept the thing what I've done there is it made an argument notice all I've done is give you other claims so that's the big picture what I want to do now is talk about what your book goes over with each of these basic concepts so let's start with playing right what is it clay what is your book tell you the candy true or false that's that's telling you have something about the claim that's not telling you it's a rough statement what does that statement do what is it true or false works it asserts something to be okay or not and you brought up truth and falsity if it says that something is the case when it's really not that it's false right if it says it's something is the case when it is the case that's true notice they can be negative I am not wearing my cap right now that's a claim that's true clay until I put my hat back on right so the claim is the most basic element of arguments and I'm going to use some examples that are different from those in the book that are similar to those if we say that Charlotte is the most populous city in North Carolina that's a claim right it's saying that something Charlotte is the largest stars population city in North Carolina which I think it's true isn't it yeah I think think some of the conglomerations might be bigger where you have winston-salem and Greensboro together but Charlotte by itself is the biggest there are less than 30 students in this classroom that's a claim right saying something is the case there's intelligent life on other planets your book uses that as an example that's a claim is it something that we know about right now no but it's still a claim right it's still saying something is the case too much high fructose corn syrup and your diet is not good for you that's a claim now you know unless you know what high fructose corn syrup is you that claim may not be intelligible to you meaning you may not be able to understand that thing right now but you could you know what would you do you go back and look at the components of the statement if you don't like the laws you should try to change them does that it claim that's not an argument because an argument has to be a several claims put together right is that is that several claims now is it a plane when we say things about moral matters we're making claims when we say things about me what we like or don't lie or think is right or wrong we're saying something is or isn't the case so you should brush your teeth every day a Prudential value judgment that's a claim you should not brush your teeth every day that's also a claim that's the counterclaim to here's a very broad one is it human it is human nature to desire freedom that's a claim too isn't it it's talking about some universal things but it's still a claim that saying something is the case so if that's what claims are like what are things that are not claims your book doesn't talk that much but use your use your mind with this what are some other kinds of language a statement is language isn't it what are there ways you use language that are place we're very good so did the back to the Packers beat the Bears yesterday at the time that I wrote that that was a that was still a contested issue now it's not my teams are going to the Super Bowl that's not a claim though that's just a question question doesn't assert something to be again it's a question asks whether something is the case doesn't it what's not a claim that by itself is a question that's not a claim and maybe about claims but that doesn't make it a claim rhetorical questions what are rhetorical questions that don't need to be answers and why not because the in question so yeah the answer is in the question or maybe you could say you assume that the person knows the answer so sometimes we do this when we want to put somebody down are you really that big of a fool that's not an honest question is it if somebody asks that they're actually doing something else that's not a claim we're going to see how that can be connected to a claim in a moment are you a smart shopper anybody that they ask that of you know they're trying to portray that they already think they're a smart shopper what else so we have questions what else are not claims opinions are claims because if you have an opinion about something you're you're saying that something is or isn't the case so if you think this is a good die or bad tie that's that's your opinion and you can make claims if you want it to be awesome if you know that there is beat the Packers yesterday right nobody would agree with you but you could make that and that could be your opinion what else what are other ways we use language where we're not making a claim you do it every day guaranteed well not statements because statements are going to you know be claims what are you doing to win when you get hurt do you make any sounds yeah those are what we call exclamations there are certain sounds and you may and those are part of our language we understand what they name they're not the same in every language as a matter of fact if you're in South America people don't say ouch anybody know what they'd say instead well deals me it would be that an excellent that's an exclamation as well but that could be for surprise too high right so these are not the same in every single culture but you can understand them and actually if you know if you're watching a movie if you see somebody drop a weight on their foot then they say hey you know you can figure out the third pain right but they're not actually making a claim what else so we have questions exclamations if I tell you please open your books to page six am I am I telling you something is or isn't the case yeah it's a command area and now notice to the fact that I say please it's still looking at isn't it you might say of a request in there – yeah some commands now commands can be very forceful if I say everybody get out now right that's that's equally a command has to please open your books to page six anything else you can think of think about what goes into something being a statement think about your basic elementary school grammar what is what does every sentence have to have two components and now in a group so if you just put a phrase now you don't actually have a statement so for example abortion that by itself is not a claim that's a topic that's not even by the way an issue that's only a topic that's only a phrase or the best hamburger and fries combo in town that's interesting right but it's not yet a claim because nobody's asserting something to be the case now can all of these be turned into claims yeah you can turn a question into a claim especially a rhetorical question are you really that dumb you really are that dumb that's what they're saying they're saying it to you are you a smart shopper you are a smart shopper that they're asserting that to be the case exclamations how could you replace those with claims like deals mean right you know people say my god what are they what are they expressive usually one-on-one of the critical thinking types that we used to use before used as an example for those great balls of fire as if people in never ever say that anymore somebody says something like that what are they expressing what what kind of emotion could be excitement yeah surprise hmm yeah all those you could replace with a claim and you could say so and so does surprise so on so it shocked so-and-so is excited commands we can replace those by saying you should or you walked you or I think you want to or something along those lines and a phrase we can complete a phrase there's one other type of language I'm not going to put out here but we will do sometimes called ceremonial language for instance I now pronounce you husband and wife that's not actually a statement it's not saying something it's not asserting something to be the case it's making something to be the case it's what we call performative language but that's pretty close to claims too isn't it what other oh I promise I promise to grade you fairly this semester that is performative language as well notice performative language is always about the future ISM okay so everybody clear about basic idea of claims anybody got any confusions or questions okay so now we go on to a little bit more complex things about what can claims be a back so people brought up the notion of plans have to be true or false that's absolutely correct what can claims be about idea about a lot of different things and this is where students often get confused so I want you to think about each of these that I'm going to say and think about whether they're claiming them so if we look at you know the abortion topic anybody who needs an abortion should have access to the procedure claim or not claim it's a claim right now notice it's using the word should so we're talking about values here later on in the chapter we're going to talk about value judgments that is a moral abortion is morally wrong and anybody who gets one is doing a terrible thing claim or not hey now notice you could also call this an opinion or a judgement or something like that but it is a claim and this one's a little bit complex it's got that working in it it doesn't so it's asserting two different things but the fact that it's asserting two different things doesn't mean that it's not asserting each of them in its term aliens perform abortions on other planets say monopoly now you seem a little dubious not quite sure right again apply this criteria is it saying something to be the case yes do we know it's the case no but is that relevant to whether it's a claim no it's a claim whether we know it to be the case or not after we determine whether it's a claim then we can go on to the next step and say well how do you know that right how do you know there's aliens at all here's a look the last one Wonder Woman would never get an abortion claim or not they why Wonder Woman isn't real yes very good it's still asserting something to be the case one of the ones that I've used in previous classes which invariably got a lot of discussion going people believe it or not would take sides on this if spider-man and Batman got into a fight Batman would and I would do this two different classes you know I teach critical thinking over and over again and so I would do the eight o'clock class and close to the class with the pro spider-man the anti Batman and then the next class would be probe at me an anti spider-man and they come up with all sorts of reasons why well spider-man is a super strength Batman has his utility belt full of technology he's been training all this time yeah but spider-man can you know shoot him full of the web stuff then they go back and forth people get very excited about totally imaginary claims don't they if you really want to hear that sort of thing go to a comic book convention and then throw out something like you know that may have a beat-up spider-man completely imaginary things but there they are claims that's why people can get worked up over them because they can assert them Batman will so claims can be about all sorts of things they can be about things that are true or false they can be about things that you can proceed or now for instance the cup is on the table has ever been able to see everybody's or the sort of clear line of vision to this this Cup freedom is a good thing show me your freedom can you see it you smell I can hear it now but it's still we're still making a claim if we say freedom is a good things whose truth or falsity will change over time the cup is on the table is true right now now it's false isn't it so some claims may be true or false depending on on the time the date the location things that we can resolve or now aliens exist you know if we practically speaking we have no way of resolving short of young aliens appearing to us or you know the attorney mountain area 51 really is a government alien lever testing facility short of a revelation like that there's no way we can figure I'm kidding but it's still a claim it's either true or false either aliens do exist or they they don't tell us real or imaginary or remembered the cup that I had last week held more coffee anyone remember whether that was the case or not I don't I don't remember more cut the hand last week I don't think it was this one but I can still make a claim Cantor right so you notice we're expanding our range of what we consider to be claims things that people agree on or controversial when you say that something is controversial what do we mean what does that term mean this is a controversial issue what do we say right people are not in agreement with each other on it so the tuition increase was a necessary measure this time budget coming that's controversial isn't it do you guys like having your tuition roads I don't think so so you may have you know motives for for projecting that claim maybe you don't think it was necessary maybe you know we should have found money somewhere else I don't actually have a strongly held opinion on that one myself so don't tell me it's still like 10 times cheaper than the north well it's cheaper than than quite a few states California by the way that used to religion really Jack because it's unsustainable okay so everybody's clear about what things are let's go on to issues when you have a controversial claim this is the best way to think about issues an issue is going to be connected to a claim and to another plane that's that's what we call the counterfeit language final so an issue is going to be a question or it's going to use the term whether abortion is not an issue abortion by itself as a topic you don't get had an issue is abortion legal that's an issue is abortion morally justified or not that's an issue because there can be claims on either side and if the issue is phrased in one way the claims have to be phrased in the same way the handout that I produced for you that's available in blackboard goes over a lot of this and gives you a few examples let's take the tuition increase we'll make it very simple whether vision increase was necessary what are the two sides to this very good position let me use a little bit of the radiation increase was necessary and the one I suspect will students hold originated in Greece not here that you work it's not necessary right that keyword is not that's what we use to negate things let's say we frame it a little bit differently let's say the issue is whether we should raise tuition one claim should could be yes we should in fact raise tuition the opposite claim this is where you have to be a little bit careful with the opposite claim be we need to lower tuition no because is that the opposite of raising tuition in one sense it is but when we're talking about claims and issues here one is that word not we should not raise the tuition that's different than saying we should lower it or what's the opposite and as far as this goes of always is it never sometimes right because that's all you need in order to negate it students always show up to class the opposite of that students never show up to class not as far as issues and claims are concerned sometimes students don't show up to class that would be the opposite and the issue would be whether students always show up to class now notice the issue he has to have the same language as the claims otherwise it's not the issue that course to those claims now I want to make sure that you don't confuse issues with the topics so you know is abortion legal or not in this state that's a issue answers yes so one of the claims is true and the other claim is false the thing of it is you've got the yes side and no side or if you like Latin you know throw in contra you know when you make a pro and con list you're using Latin terms actually abortion is that an issue it's a topic right because if you just say abortion one sort of claim when it correspondent abortion yes no there's no there's no plan there's no a shooter abortion in the law again just the topic right abortion in this state still not a claim down how about is abortion illegal it's not a claim remember claims are claims are not questions issues can be questions and issues then can be answered on either side is abortion legal now notice if we ask is abortion legal is that the same issue as is abortion illegal in this state no one's more we say ones more general than the other one we could be more specific is late term abortion legal in this state believe the answer's no because it's illegal in most states there's a big big story about late term abortion bill that came out recently that's been catching a lot of attention not in the state though but notice that's more specific should someone's go get an abortion that's a whole different claim that's all different issue sorry what was that is even confusing them that's a whole different issue than whether abortion should be legal or whether is morally permissible it's connected in that they have to do with abortion but it's not the same issue at all way too often somebody comes to another person in there they're struggling with an issue should I get an abortion the other person might not actually engage with the same issue well abortion is legal planning that's an issue right because it's a question it can be answered yes I should know I should what I'm trying to get at is that often when people will ask these sort of issues the person will give them an answer and the answer will be a claim but it's a claim corresponding to a different issue should i major in business so yes I should major in business no I shouldn't major in business do you like the business professors yes I do like the business professors no I don't like the business professors that's a different issue it could be connected right but it's not the same issue answering one question is not the same thing as answering the other question so everybody clear about issues this is something that I'm going to point out over and over again because people are going to mix up claims and issues it's very important to get the stuff you want to practice with this play that part because the next thing we go to is arguments we get rid of a little bit of this a parameter with issue we have a claim let's say it's a controversial issue half the class believes one way half the class believes the other way what are we going to throw desks at each other shout well those are possibilities people do do that sort of thing but let's say we want to be a bit more civilized what do we do I believe this you believe this what do you have to do write in an argument looks like this what can you give all you can give me our more claims hopefully they're going to be claims that all accept and hopefully those claims will lead me to see that your claim is actually correct now it might be a more complicated picture right what if I don't accept all those claims then you have to offer me something for those and this is what we call there are some technical terms we call these the premises of the argument and we call this need conclusion what is the conclusion the conclusion is the claim that you want to get the other person to accept that there are not already accepted but you might actually be you to you could make an argument to yourself yeah as a matter of fact quite often this will be what happens you have an argument on one side and you have an argument on the other side and both in the same basic structure premises leading to conclusions the premises are what support or give evidence or give reasons or you know attempt to convince the other person of the truth of the conclusion sometimes you may find it impossible to find premises that the other person will accept especially if there are emotions involved or interested it doesn't mean that you don't try to make an argument another point to do about arguments if you are holding claims which you all did because we all have opinions right term opinion signifies a kind of claim do you actually have any evidence or good reasons to believe the things that you do believe the things that you have hold is opinions some of them yes some of them you could on the spot if I ask you why do you believe this place you would be able to give me reasons supporting it for instance if I ask you why do you think they shouldn't raise your tuition next year we're having budget cuts after all why shouldn't they be interpretation can you give me any reasons I'm sure you can bigger budget good we're looking for reasons to not raise it now that would be reasons for raise oh yeah so now what do we have there's a claim you guys shouldn't have your tuition raised why not you can't afford it due to the the state of the economy you made an argument you could go to the Chancellor and you know put a petition together make that same argument and say look you know we've had enough I mean you might add some other language in it we're not going to take this sort of thing from you but ultimately when it would come down to is making some sort of claims and those claims are going to be connected he doesn't accept something like you shouldn't have your tuition raised but he might accept things like you know this is really putting a hardship on students we're not making you know sort of money that administrators are making it's very hard for you to relate to our condition but that's your old job isn't it as the person in charge of this university to look out for the students you might you know you might put a whole bunch of claims in there all of them ultimately trying to support that one point that conclusion that you want the other person to accept if you're doing that you're making an argument you've been making arguments your entire life you did it when you're a kid and you wanted some canvas right probably be out that first I should give that candy in your can your mom your dad said I know you shouldn't get the camp actually they probably said you're not getting it but then you know you guys why not well you know you don't need it you don't have to have it I'm not getting it for you and then you made some you provided some other claims I really wanted you're making an argument there a banner right for the kid I really want it is a good reason why they should have isn't part of growing out of childhood is learning that learning the fact that just because you think something is good doesn't mean that other people just because you want it doesn't mean that you should happen it's learning to get rid of old arguments I was hoping that we would have some time to go over a few of the practice problems that your book provides I think we may only get to one or two of them let's look at exercise one point four one one four which is on page twenty five what this is asking you to do is to figure out do these actually contain articles how are you going to tell whether they actually contain articles look to see whether they have the structure look to see whether there's some basic point that they're trying to get somebody else to accept and whether they're providing reasons why the reader should accept that claim so let's look at number two Carl would like to help out but you won't be in town we'll have to find someone else who has a truck is there an argument there will the rest of the day Carl would like to help out but it won't be in town we'll have to find someone else there is an argument there there are claims that are connected together some of the some of the claims are providing support or why you should believe the other kind so now whenever you have an argument first thing to do after you figured out whether there is an argument what is the conclusion what is the most basic claim that the other things are providing support for what is it vistas so Carl would like to help up but it won't be in town that's the claim and then we'll have to find someone else almost the truck is providing support for that yeah yeah the conclusion the claim that that is being led to right is we'll have to find someone else who owns a truck that's the conclusion they're drawing what are they drawing the from what's the evidence how I would like to help out but he won't be in town so we do have an argument you do this sort of thing all the time whenever you have to figure out how to change a situation you probably make an argument to yourself without realizing it whenever you have to spell out to another person what course of action you should take you're making an argument this is one of those sort of examples let's just look at one more let's look at number three in 1976 Washington DC ban and ordinance prohibiting private ownership of firearms since then Washington's murder rate has shot up 121 percent bans on firearms are clearly counterproductive argument they are not there is an argument there yeah again how do you tell look to see whether there is some sort of structure where some claim is being provided support by other claims what's the claim that that they're trying to yes the ads on firearms are clearly counterproductive yeah that's that's the thing that they're leading towards why are they bringing up the stuff about Washington DC passing an ordinance and murder rate that's all for support isn't it you want to practice with these orders you notice that reading this doesn't automatically come to everyone so you know try to practices one of the good things about critical thinking too is you can practice this whether you're using morning we're watching TV or engaging in conversation or you're lying because you're making an arguments all the time so I'll see y'all on Wednesday

20 thoughts on “Critical Thinking: Issues, Claims, Arguments”

  1. The term "get a haircut" is an ad hominem is if being used to support a claim or position and implies you are wrong because you have uncut hair!

  2. Philosophy, not the study of how to think, but about ways to think. Just how psychological is that? [Now there's a PhD thesis in some discipline or disciplines. As if I cared.]

    Philosophy, a subset of psychology.

    Consider William James, though I prefer others, Lao Tse and Bertrand Russell to mention but two. Think, think, think. And if that is not enough, think some more. But first, garner sufficient data upon which to think. It is difficult to know your self. What could be more important to have knowledge about and to know to the point of understanding? Socrates advises, "The unexamined life is not worth living." But when you have not sufficient data of living, what is there to consider? Should one engage in unfounded speculation? Are those questions philosophical or psychological? Think!

    By nomadic circumstance I am intimate with Southern Pines, just a Fort Bragg away from Fayetteville. I was introduced to critical thinking there in the public education system, while troops from Bragg played war games outside as I crawled beneath my desk and retuned my piano. I was introduced to bigotry there as well. A fondness bias for the Tar Hills in that I watched my first steeple chase there and learned about thinking critically. Not a passionate fondness for the area. Hmmmmmmmm. Bias and subjectivity. How evolutionarily deep are those psychological factors in philosophy? And do not ignore heritage, the introduction of familial and socio-cultural biases, or conflate heritage with heredity, when thinking on anything worth thinking about psychologically and all of psychology's subsets into the study of the non-material produce of biological matter, especially man, the bipedal tube that cannot fly unassisted. Complexity within complexity, in flux, dynamic, eroding and building and eroding; where chaos is a normative necessity to avoid stasis. Live the adventure. Adventure as process has not purpose or meaning. Purpose and meaning are subjective, not objective values. As are all values. Values are biases. Think. Processes, aside from man's subjectivity, have no opinion. Some 7.5 billion subjective expressions in the world today. More than triple the number when I was born. Consider the scope of the world's complex societies, their heritage and the individuals who are the society. Develop scope within your self. You can only influence others — perhaps, and most likely singularly.

  3. If the claims of two sides are unevenly split 95/5% does that still make it a "real" claim, if 95% of the "audience" accept one side of the claim, does the 5% of the opposite side of the claim have a case to make a "genuine" claim?

  4. Thanks professor Sadler! Im from Brasil and here I have never had a class on Critical Thinking, even in college. Since I can understand english, I use It to learn philosophy through the internet, and your videos have become realy instructive and helpfull to me in that sense. I believe that Critical Thinking should be taught in brazilian schools (claim) because It seens to constitute a premise in order to understand philosophy and science's claims, wich are fundamental to a majority, If not all, of the curriculums of particular courses within universities and colleges. Again, thank you for the content, and congratulations for realizing that you should make it public.

  5. The government lies about everything including flatearth including NASA including the science that goes with NASA Mason's Illuminati English royalty and just about any other major secret society you can thinking of so let's see you can test those critical skills out there

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