This article will discuss the second item on the list presented in Critical Thinking Series I: All reasoning is an attempt to figure something out, to settle some question, or solve some problem. Here are a few steps to take in the process.
- State the question or problem as clearly as possible.
- Express the question or problem in more than one way to explore all its “angles.”
- Break the question or problem into its component parts.
- Distinguish questions for which there is a concrete answer from those which can be reduced no further than personal opinion or basic belief.
As always, it helps immensely to write this stuff down. On a sheet of paper, just go down the list and figure out, as far as you can, the question or problem at hand. Your mind is for having ideas–it’s not so good at storing them. Put them on paper instead.
Critical Thinking Series IV will address assumptions used in reasoning.