Objectives, Outline, and Introduction

Chapter 6: Critical Thinking & Reasoning

By Terri Russ, J.D., Ph.D.
Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN

Learning Objectives

After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

  • Understand and explain the importance of critical thinking
  • Identify the core skills associated with critical thinking
  • Demonstrate the difference between deductive and inductive reasoning
  • Construct a logically sound and well-reasoned argument
  • Avoid the various fallacies that can arise through the misuse of logic
  • Apply chapter concepts in final questions and activities

Chapter Outline

  • Introduction
  • Critical Thinking
    • Critical Thinking Defined
    • Critical Thinking Traits and Skills
    • The Value of Critical Thinking
  • Logic and the Role of Arguments
    • Defining Arguments
    • Defining Deduction
    • Defining Induction
  • Understanding Fallacies
  • Formal Fallacies
    • Bad Reasons Fallacy
    • Masked Man Fallacy
    • Fallacy of Quantitative Logic
  • Informal Fallacies
    • Accident Fallacy
    • Ad Hominem
    • Fallacy of Ambiguity
    • Fallacies of Appeal
    • Begging the Question
    • Black and White Fallacy
    • Fallacy of Composition
    • Fallacy of Division
    • Non causa, pro causa Fallacy
    • Red Herring Fallacy
    • Slippery Slope Fallacy
    • Weak Analogy Fallacy
  • Conclusion
  • Review Questions and Activities
  • Glossary
  • References


Gears in a head

“Filos segundo logo” by Filosofias filosoficas. CC-BY.

As we meander through our daily routines, we are surrounded by numerous messages and people trying to get our attention and convince us to do something. We sign into our e-mail accounts and are bombarded with sales pitches to help us get rich quick or promise to fix all of our embarrassing physical problems. We drive to school and see billboards touting tantalizing restaurants or pitching local political candidates. We converse with our friends and family about current events like the crazy car thief who tried to avoid the police by driving down train tracks right into an oncoming train.  Throughout all of these exchanges, we must constantly strive to make sense of the messages and determine which are true and which are not true, which are probably and which are improbable, which are intended and which are unintended. When we do this we practice critical thinking.  We evaluate the arguments presented and determine if their logic is sound or if they rely on fallacies to build their case. In this chapter you will learn how to use critical thinking in all areas of your life, including preparing and presenting speeches. You will also learn how to construct a logical argument that avoids the pitfalls of fallacious thinking.