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Critical Thinking for Students

Critical Thinking for Students

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Published by: Sandugash on Feb 04, 2012
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01/28/2013

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Now that you can identify arguments, a question still hangs over
the proceedings.

It's all very well learning what arguments are. But why do I
need to know what they are?

This is a good question. After all, one of the claims that we are
making in this book is that, if you can master the skills
described here, you will be better able to handle the material
you are studying.
Arguments are found everywhere. They are found in
newspapers and magazines, on television and radio; they are
found in every school and college subject, every debate, every
court case. Some are good arguments, some are bad; some are
so familiar that you wouldn't think of them as arguments; some
will challenge many of your beliefs. It is partly because there
are so many attempts to persuade us of one thing rather than
another that we need to develop skills in assessing arguments.
But it is also important for us to be able to develop our own
arguments, especially if we are to become competent at dealing
with arguments in academic subjects.
If, for example, you are studying the social sciences, you will
meet arguments around every academic corner: arguments about
the causes of crime, about social change, about the significance
of the family, and so on. If you are studying history, you will
also have to deal with arguments: these might include the
significance of the French Revolution, the causes of the First
World War, and the role of religion in social change.
If you are studying subjects such as biology and zoology, you
will be faced with arguments on the nature of evolutionary
change such as how and why early humans developed a brain so
powerful that the number of possible interconnections is greater
than the number of atoms in the universe.

16

Identifying Arguments

Making judgements

Becoming competent at a subject is much more than knowing a
series of facts. Obviously, not having the factual knowledge
means that you're not going to get very far, but you also need to
evaluate and analyse the material you're studying. Time and
time again, you will be asked to carry out tasks which involve
you making judgements about your material. From a
requirement to do a specific analysis of information to the open-
ended requirement to 'discuss' a general theme, you will benefit
from having critical thinking skills.

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