Glossary of Critical Thinking Terms

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argument
A rationale or information structure that includes reasons for believing the truth of some conclusion
authoritativeness (in knowledge claims)
autonomy in thinking
"Autonomy in thinking" refers to maintaining awareness, choice, and self-governance about the qualities of one's thinking one wishes to keep or change.
burden of proof
An obligation that is normally attributed to a speaker or writer to provide credible or plausible reasons for his or her major claims. See also Burden of Proof
claim
A statement that is asserted as true with an argumentative or explanatory rationale. A Claim can be a premise or a conclusion.
conclusion
The claim in an argumentative or explanatory rationale which is supported by the premises. In arguments, conclusions are claims are the part of the rationale for which the premises provide reasons. In explanations, the conclusion is the claim that the explanation purports to explain.
deduction
A kind of inference in which a conclusion is presented as a necessary consequence of some premises. Contrast to induction.
equivocation, fallacy of
explanation
A rationale in which some phenomena or fact (stated in the conclusion) is given an account which satisfies doubt about how the phenomena or fact came about.
induction
A kind of inference in which reasoning from facts warrants a degree of confidence in some conclusion. Induction depends upon finding patterns in our experience from which we can either generalize or infer some specific conclusion. Induction includes any common inference from the regularity of experience.
interpreation
An interpretation is an explanation or account which gives us a distinctive way of understanding some thing or phenomenon. When an interpretation discloses a sufficiently new insight or way of looking at something, you could call it a form of knowledge. Interpretive knowledge claims can be contrasted with knowledge claims involving discovery.
knowledge claims
premise
The claim or claims which support the conclusion of a rationale. In an argument, the premises provide reasons for the conclusion. In an explanation, the premise show how the situation referred to in the conclusion came about or should be understood.
presumption
Presumptions are claims that are generally taken to be true within the context of the deliberation. Questioning presumptions is a specific critical response strategy.
primary researcher (see also "secondary researcher")
rationale
Any information structure in which reasons or explanations are offered for a claim (the conclusion).
reason
Within critical thinking, a reason is any consideration or evidence that helps support an inference to a conclusion.
reflective/deliberative context
Any situation (face-to-face or mediated) in which reasons are offered for conclusions.
reflective persona
The pattern of roles and preferences you express in reflective/deliberative contexts. Your "reflective style" or personality in situations in which reasons are being given.
secondary researcher (see also "primary researchers")
validity
A property of deductive arguments which have the sort of logical structure which guarantees that if the premises are true, then the conclusion will be. This is a "conditional guarantee" of the truth of the conclusion, since the premises must still be true for the conclusion to follow.