Critical Thinking Portfolio

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Argument Analysis
There are three main parts learnt in Lecture 5 for the sake of a good presentation of an argument. The first part is “Clarifying Important Keywords”. It is the first step to do before presenting your argument. We have to do so usually due to ambiguity, vagueness or some abstract concepts contained in our argument. If people do not have a clear understanding on the keywords then it is very likely that your argument will be misunderstood or have its meaning distorted. The second part is “Argument Structure”. We should be careful in concluding an argument with invalid patterns (e.g. P(Q, so Not P(Not Q), and should recognise the basic argument types for structuring our arguments. The third part is “Argument map”, which is a means to present arguments. It is a diagram displaying the structure of one or multiple arguments, and it is capable of presenting a clear picture of both sides of a complicated debate. People can easily follow the logical flow and understand the clear picture of the argument. There are five tips for the effective use of argument maps, which include using full sentences as reasons, coming up with arguments on both sides, not stopping at level one, distinguishing between independent & co-premises, and learning how to give tight arguments.

The construction of argument maps is of particular interests to me, since pure textual presentation of argument can cause much misunderstanding through many ways such as ambiguous lexical meaning of some terms. Complicated arguments can also be sorted out more easily, so as to improve the efficiency and quality of critical thinking. The tip of using complete sentences when writing the reasons can prevent misunderstanding of the logical flow, just like the clarification of keywords. We should try to avoid myside bias and generate arguments on both sides, coming up with more arguments on the opposite side if possible. The argument map should extend beyond just one single level. This means we have to consider the arguments for and against the arguments being given, in addition to laying out the arguments for and against the claim. We have to ensure that no co-premises are presented individually, so that it does not cause invalidity of the argument. We have to give tight arguments, so that every important concept in the conclusions appears in the premises, and relevance is ensured among premises and conclusions.

News Application
[ Pork farmers’ plea: Stay away from our pigs! – Swine have more to fear from people than the other way around. From http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30507287/ ]

Pork farmers around the globe have been troubled by the early version of the name of H1N1 virus, “swine flu”. Pig farmers in the US say they’re being crippled by bans on exports of live pigs or pork meat imposed by 15 nations, including Russia, China, Thailand and Indonesia. The fact is, people cannot get the virus from consuming or getting in any contact with pigs. It is H1N1 virus, and the only way of transmission is human to human contact. After many voices urging the health officials to ditch the name “swine flu”, the World Health Organization finally announced the dropping of the shorthand name, saying it was needlessly confusing consumers. The European Union has already adopted the name “novel flu,” while the Canadian Health Ministry is considering a petition by the Canadian Pork Council rename the virus “North American flu.” (In fact, health and agricultural officials agree that pigs have much more to fear from people humans than the other way around. Pigs, it turns out, can contract the virus from infected humans.)

The argument that H1N1 virus can be spread through pigs is based on the official name of the disease provided by the World Health Organization. “Swine” means “pigs”, however it is now proven to be a misleading name and pigs actually cannot transmit the disease at all, but on the contrary...
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