4 Steps Of Evaluating An Argument – Evaluating Truth and Validity

  1. State your argument fully, as clearly as you can. Be sure to identify any hidden premises and, if the argument is complex, to express all parts of it.
  1. Examine each part of your argument for errors affecting truth. (To be sure your examination is not perfunctory, play devil’s advocate and challenge the argument, asking pointed questions about it, taking nothing for granted.) Note any instances of either/or thinking, avoiding the issue, overgeneralizing, oversimplifying, double standard, shifting the burden of proof, or irrational appeal. In addition, check to be sure that the argument reflects the evidence found in your investigation (see Chapter 8) and is relevant to the pro and con arguments and scenarios you produced earlier (see Chapter 9).
  1. Examine your argument for validity errors; that is, consider the reasoning that links conclusions to premises. Determine whether your conclusion is legitimate or illegitimate.
  1. If you find one or more errors, revise your argument to eliminate them. The changes you will have to make in your argument will depend on the kinds of errors you find. Sometimes, only minor revision is called for—the adding of a simple qualification, for example, or the substitution of a rational appeal for an irrational one. Occasionally, however, the change required is more dramatic. You may, for example, find your argument so flawed that the only appropriate action is to abandon it altogether and embrace a different argument. On those occasions, you may be tempted to pretend your argument is sound and hope no one will notice the errors. Resist that hope. It is foolish as well as dishonest to invest time in refining a view that you know is unsound.

Examples of an arguments evaluation using the 4 steps

Social Scientists

Sociologists are social scientists. Psychologists are social scientists. Therefore, sociologists are psychologists.

It is true that sociologists are social scientists and it is true that psychologists are social scientists as well. As a major category of academic disciplines, social science concerns itself with how individuals relate with one another within a societal setting and includes various fields in the humanities such as psychology and history among others. Sociology is considered one of the main social sciences and is the study of society or social behavior focusing where it originated from, how it develops, how it organizes itself, how it networks, and the institutions it builds. While on the other hand, Psychology refers to the study of the human mind, making a psychologist, a professional who studies and evaluates the mental processes of a human brain. A sociologist is therefore a professional who studies human societies with the intention of figuring out how humans relate and how their relationships change over time.

The deduction that sociologists are psychologist is false and invalid, these two professions are grouped under the same academic discipline, but their focus is on completely different areas under which they are concerned with different concepts of the human being.Based on their distinctly different areas of interest and focus as regards their study of human beings, sociologists are not psychologists and psychologists are not psychologists.

Sociologists are social scientists and Psychologists are social scientists. Therefore, both sociologists and psychologists are social scientists.


Critical thinking and Movies

Critical thinking has no application to movies because movies are an art form rather than an attempt to persuade.

Since time immemorial, movies have been used to demonstrate and promote critical thinking by challenging ideology and unmasking the contractedness of film. Critical viewing analyzes choices made during creation and key emphases. In this age of technology and increased media content on most if not all mobile devices, people are subjected to heightened levels of manipulation and in response to this, it is imperative critical viewing because movies can be used not only as an instructional tool but also as tool to teach critical thinking. Based on the highlights above this statement and argument is false as it is founded on the erroneous assumption that critical thinking has no application to movies thereby nullifying their power and ability to persuade. In addition to this, it is important to note that this argument is invalid because it limits the role of movies only to their function as a form of art and refuses to recognize and acknowledge the function of movies as an effective medium of persuasion.

There is an increasing awareness among educators indicating that more films should be taught to younger students as an academic text just as film-studies classes are taught in higher education, in order to teach them to learn and talk about film. The motivation being that viewing should go beyond showing a film or movie adaptation of a novel but like critical reading should encourage the analysis of the different components of a text(Ekahitanond, 2012). Critical viewing acts as a springboard for critical reading and helps to introduce the different levels of literary analysis such as the simple recall and the complex thinking.

Critical thinking has significant application to movies because movies are both a form of art and most importantly an attempt to persuade.

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