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Module 2: Elements and Standards of Critical Thinking flashcards |

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  • Elements of Reasoning

    Purposes, questions, assumptions, implications, information, concepts, inferences, and points of view. Also knows as the parts of thinking or the fundamental structures of thought.

    Points of View

    What reasoning takes place within and has some comprehensive focus or orientation. The same issue may have multiple of these.


    The goal or objective of reasoning. It describes the desired outcome or intent.


    That which reasoning is directed.


    Encompass everything taken for granted as true in order to figure out something else and are always present in any form of reasoning.


    Consequences of reasoning. What follows reasoning.


    Statistical data, observations, testimony, etc.


    General categories or ideas by which information is interpreted or classified when used in thinking.


    To come to conclusions. Begins with information or misinformation and concludes something else based on that information.

    Standards, Elements, and Traits Interactions

    The standards (clarity, accuracy, etc.) must be applied to the elements (purposes, questions, etc.) as the critical thinker learns to develop intellectual traits (intellectual humility, intellectual empathy, etc.).

    Thinking to Some Purpose

    Understanding the direction one's thinking is moving and the ends it seeks. One's purposes are not necessarily consistent with one another and one's announced purposes are not necessarily their actual purposes.

    Taking Command of Concepts

    Embracing the mind's power to create concepts through which the world is seen and experienced. Becoming master of one's own conceptualizations and not becoming trapped in one set of concepts.

    Assessing Information

    Seeking trustworthy information sources, being vigilant about the information sources used, and being alert to the use one makes of one's own experience, which could be biased, distorted, or self-deluded.

    Distinguishing between Inferences and Assumptions

    An inference is a mental step by which one concludes something is true based on something else being true or appearing to be so and might or might not be accurate, logical, or justified. An assumption is a presupposition, a truth taken for granted.

    Thinking through Implications

    Distinguishing between what a situation actually implies and what may be inferred from it. Critical thinkers always strive to infer only what is implied, no more and no less.

    Thinking Across Points of View

    Thinking this is how I see things from some point of view instead of this is how things are. Recognizing that situations can be different when viewed from a different viewpoint.

    Standards of Critical Thinking

    Clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, logic, significance, and fairness.


    Enables one to see where one's thinking is leading. Thinking is clear when it is easily understood. It is impossible to determine accuracy or relevance without this.


    To represent something as it actually is. Common barriers include presuming one's own thoughts are automatically this, presuming other's thoughts are this when they are in disagreement with one's own, and failing to question statements that validate what one already believes.


    When reasoning is specific, exact, and sufficiently detailed. "I am going to the party at 8 o'clock" vs "I am going to the party soon."


    Something that pertains to the problem at hand. When thinking focuses on what is important -- what matters -- in understanding the problem at hand. Excludes what properly should be disregarded.


    Plumbing beneath the surface of an issue to identify underlying complexities and address those complexities in an intellectually responsible way.


    Reasoning that considers the issue at hand from every relevant viewpoint, including alternate or opposing perspectives.


    When thoughts and the order in which they are organized are mutually supportive and make sense in combination. Thinking that is not internally contradictory or includes conflicting ideas.


    Thinking that concentrates on the most important information relevant to the issue at hand. Not failing to recognize that not all information which happens to be pertinent to an issue is equally important.


    Thinking that is justified, that is thought fairly in context. Thinking that satisfies all other fundamental intellectual standards satisfies the standard of justifiability.

    Distinctions between the Elements of Reasoning

    Are relative not absolute.

    Activating Ignorance

    Mentally taking in and actively using false information.


    The mind drawing conclusions on the basis of reasons.

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