Critical Thinking – Arguments, Fallacies, Rhetoric

“Critical thinking is the process of reaching a decision or judgment by analyzing, evaluating, and reasoning with facts and data presented.”

Book Excerpts:  T. Edward Damer. Attacking Faulty Reasoning: A Practical Guide to Fallacy-Free Arguments, 7th Edition”, Boston, MA

A system for building a “good argument.”

Five criteria of a good argument: These five categories deal with:

  1.  the structural demands of a well-formed argument,
  2.  the relevance of the argument’s premises,
  3.  the acceptability of the argument’s premises,
  4.  the sufficiency  of the relevant and acceptable premises to support the conclusion of the argument, and
  5. the effectiveness of the argument’s rebuttal to blunt the force of the strongest criticisms against the argument or the position it supports.


  • “A fallacy is broadly defined as an error in logic and also to a mistaken or false belief.”
  • ” A fallacy is a violation of one or more of the five criteria of a good argument.”

Fallacies are categorized by the criterion of a good argument that they violate.  The sixty named fallacies treated in the book are organized in Chapters 5 through 9 by the criterion violated, with one chapter devoted to each criterion. An extended discussion of each fallacy explains and illustrates exactly how the fallacy violates the criterion in question.

  • Damer Glossary of Fallacies
  • Damer Intellectual CodeBasic rules of intellectual behavior that support the development of good arguments.
  • Common Critical Thinking Fallacies. Critical thinking is the process of reaching a decision or judgment by analyzing, evaluating, and reasoning with facts and data presented. However, nobody is thinking critically 100% of the time. Logical reasoning can be prone to fallacies. … A fallacy is an error in reasoning. When there is a fallacy in the reasoning, conclusions are less credible and can be deemed invalid.

Additional Information – Rhetoric – Dr. Mark Foreman. Rhetoric and rhetorical devices can subtly impede critical thinking.   “Keywords:”

  • Rhetoric – “the art of persuasive writing and speaking. The purpose is to persuade others to adopt a belief.”
  • Rhetorical Force. “The attempt to persuade someone to adopt a belief based on the psychological or emotive responses one has toward the idea.”
  • Common Rhetorical Devices – Euphisms and Dysphemisms, Weaselers, Downplayers, Stereotypes, Innuendo, Loaded Question, Ridicule/Sarcasm, Hyperbole,  Proof Surrogates.

Why Thinking Like an Open-Minded Scientist Is Good for You

Counterarguments A counterargument involves acknowledging standpoints that go against your argument and then re-affirming your argument. This is typically done by stating the opposing side’s argument, and then ultimately presenting your argument as the most logical solution. The counterargument is a standard academic move that is used in argumentative essays because it shows the reader that you are capable of understanding and respecting multiple sides of an argument.

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