Planning and Creating Your Reasoning

Although, in practice, reasoning, knowledge, research, and analysis are all inextricably bound together, it is also true that, from time to time, we divide our reasoning tasks up in a way that allows us to sit down and prepare an analytical text containing arguments and explanations. What we have learnt about reasoning so far makes us much more effective in such preparation, and this chapter briefly discusses two ways in which we can go about it. However, always remember that the key to good...

What Kinds of Reasoning are There

We have now finished with our detailed look at the analytical structure approach. This chapter will consider, in a more general way, how to think about the types of reasoning we might use and encounter. I already noted, in chapter 2, that basically reasoning is either about relationships across time (cause and effect), or within the sets or groups into which we divide and classify objects at any given moment. But there are some other ways of thinking about reasoning that are worth exploring in...

More Effective Reasoning II Better Links

Writing well-formed and well-founded claims is only half the task of effective reasoning. The links between these claims must also be well made if our overall argument or explanation is to be strong. Looking carefully at the links between premises prevents us from making unconscious assumptions about how information is interrelated. We must also check the connections of our premises with their conclusion, making sure they are relevant and provide strong support. Otherwise our conclusion will...

The burden of proof

Even if all the premises are acceptable, and even if they are relevant, you nevertheless still may not be effective in your reasoning. Why Because, at base, you must always offer enough support for your audience to be convinced that the conclusion of your argument is acceptable or that the explanation of it is complete. Strength of support is, like relevance, very dependent upon the context in which we are reasoning, and we can never be certain that we have given enough support for our...

Covering scope and certainty

Often people will make a conclusion that is far too general, or definitive for the reasons they are presenting to support it. An example would be Australia has a good education system with strong programs to teach literacy, and thus all Australians know how to read and write.' It is true that Australia has a good education system with such programs but it is not true, consequentially, that all Australians know how to read and write. First, some Australians have...

Casting and notes on each paragraph

One of the problems that confronts teachers of first-year university units each semester is the need to ensure that students learn, quickly, the methods and skills of correct referencing.3 In some courses, students are very much left to fend for themselves, relying on, perhaps, the services of the university library, advice offered by individual staff members, or simply muddling through on the basis of critical feedback on their first assignments. 11 The Department of Media and Information...

Direct and indirect sources Direct sources

In broad terms, direct sources are those that provide first-hand information about events. A radio interview with a politician in which we hear what the politician has to say about the economy is first-hand. An extensive speech delivered in Parliament by the same politician is also first-hand. A book that analyses this politician's particular views about the economy is, by contrast, second-hand. In scientific disciplines, experiments are the most common direct source in other disciplines,...

Exercise

In this chapter we have explored, in considerable depth, how linking between claims works in practice. Links between premises allow us to express the complexities that underlie any summary 'reason'. The key property of claims to be noted here is that a claim contains an internal connection, which then is used as the basis for a chain of external links. Sometimes, a premise functions to frame our argument or define some key term. Sometimes we will encounter a single independent premise, but the...

Dependent premises Using a group of premises

A 'reason for a conclusion usually involves many complex ideas. It will probably require more than one premise to express all of these ideas. All such premises relating to a particular 'reason are dependent on one another and thus are shown, in the diagram, as being linked along the same line. Dependency involves one of the key qualities of claims that we looked at in chapter 2 that within a single claim there is an internal connection between two and, occasionally, more than two ideas. In the...

What does it mean

As we will see, questioning is the key analytical skill that enables us to develop complex knowledge about the world in the form of structures of related ideas, so as to communicate with other people. It is not the answers to these questions that matter, but the very fact that we ask them of ourselves, the willingness not to 'take things for granted' or to be satisfied with the 'obvious answer'. Indeed, a great failure of our society is that, by and large, we are people who believe that someone...

Claims as elements of reasoning

Effective thinking skills can be elusive. Reasoning has a structure and content that can be hard to control as an author and hard to discern as a reader when it is expressed in normal English so-called 'natural language' . We tend to assume that claims are indistinguishable from their particular forms of expression, and it may be hard to grasp just what claims do within reasoning unless we shake them loose from their normal modes of expression. Claims may be expressed in natural language....

Avoiding implied premises

These premises is a reflection of the difficulty of thinking deeply enough about complex issues. When we do, it is usually because we have unconsciously assumed some complex relationship that, in fact, needs more open analysis. Here is an example. Imagine we reasoned that 'The economy is growing strongly at the moment, so employment will also grow strongly'. If we look closely, this explanation does not represent a clear analysis. The first claim puts together two components 'economy' and...