Quick Write

Imagine that you live in the time of Star Trek. You do not have to worry about making money to buy food or shelter. Everything you could ever want is now taken care of.

What would you do now? What would you want to be? What would you decide to do with your time?

Deliberately Target Your Purpose

Thinking is always guided by purposes. Your purpose is whatever you try to accomplish; goals and objectives.

Figure out what you are after and how you are seeking it. Does what you do match with what you want to accomplish?

Examine personal goals, economic goals, academic, and social goals. Make a list of important goals and determine whether you find inconsistencies in them.

Ask yourself, what am I trying to accomplish? Is this purpose realistic?


Any questions on research?

We are researching not to find a ready made answer to our problem, but to find evidence to examine and support the answer we come up with. There is no perfect source, but sources that will help us to learn about the topic/point/problem we are researching. It is up to you to come up with a solution to the problem and support it using reliable evidence.

Critical Reading

Chapter 2 was an introduction into critical reading. Critical reading is very important to critical thinking and writing. The two main points are:

  1. One should read carefully
  2. Making a summary helps one grasp an argument.

While these may seem obvious, they are also often ignored by students. Knowledge begins with reading carefully. Students that struggle with critical writing and argument usually have a difficult time because they failed to read carefully.

DO NOT ASSUME you know what they are talking about. You need to put in the time to read, follow, and understand others arguments in order to become a critical thinker and writer.

Writing a summary of a reading or an argument helps us to make sure that we understood it correctly. I ask you to summarize in your weekly journals, because I am looking for how you are reading something, if you are reading it correctly and understanding it. It is very easy to miss read something.

Chapter 3, Critical Reading: Getting Deeper into Arguments takes us further into critical reading. It is much more in depth and thorough.

Persuasion is to convince someone else to accept or adopt your position, which can be accomplished in a number of ways (80).

Argument writing or critical writing focuses more on the logos, or appeal to reason.

  • Logos: appeal to reason
  • Pathos: appeal to emotions
  • Ethos: appeal to credibility or trustworthiness

Argument represents only one form of persuasion, one that relies on the cognitive or intellectual capacity for reason (80).

An argument doesn’t require two speakers or writers with opposing positions. They may, but you can write an argument, using appeals to reason with out setting it up as a dispute.

Dispute is a special kind of argument in which two or more people express views that are at odds (81).

Proposal Example

Victory Gardens, The Sequel – New Urban AG, Scaling Locally Grown Food | Jeff Olson

  1. What is the problem?
  2. What is the solution he proposes?
  3. What evidence does he provide?
  4. Is he persuasive?

Reason v Rationalization

Reason: the power of the mind to think, understand, and form judgments by a process of logic.

We can reason through induction and deduction.

Deduction takes beliefs and assumptions and extracts their hidden consequences/conclusions (106).

For Example:

  • Premise: Humans are mortal
  • Premise: Socrates is human
  • Conclusion: Socrates is mortal.

This statement is a syllogism. premise + premise = Conclusion

Sound Arguments

All premises must be true

The syllogism must be valid, premises support the conclusion.

Then, the argument is said to be sound.

Fallacies are kinds of invalid arguments.

Induction uses information about observed cases to reach a conclusion about unobserved cases.

For Example:

If we see the train arrive at six am, several days in a row, we can reason that it will arrive at six am tomorrow.

Unlike deduction, induction yields conclusions that go beyond the information contained in the premises used in their support.

Rationalize means to devise a self serving reason.

We can come up with reasons and justifications to make ourselves feel better, but that does not mean that we are using reason. This is where the struggle will always be.

We can’t be sure we are not rationalizing, but we can seek to think critically, examine our beliefs, scrutinize out assumptions, look for counter evidence, and think if it’s reasonably possible to draw different conclusions (92).

We need to have sufficient sample size in order to reason effectively.


Assumptions can be stated or unstated, explicit or implicit.

Implicit assumption is one that is not stated but, rather, is taken for granted.

An explicit assumption is one that is stated and given as evidence, also known as a premise.


Evidence: facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.

Different disciplines use different kinds of evidence. We can use a text, field research, or experiments as evidence.

Experimentation: science involves the systematic study of claims tested, designed to yield particular observations.

Examples: a previous sample used as evidence.

  • Real events drawn from history.
  • Artificial or hypothetical cases cannot be used for evidence but can be used for persuasion.

Analogies: a kind of comparison that asserts things that are alike in some ways are alike in others.

Authoritative Testimony: citation or quotation of authorities.

Statistics: numbers and data used to support claims.

  • Graphs, Tables, Numbers
  • Statistics can be misused and can be seen as misleading.
  • Unreliable statistics, looks impressive but is insubstantial or irrelevant.

Nonrational Appeals

Satire: witty ridicule

Irony: contrasts what is said and what is meant

Sarcasm: the use of irony to mock or convey contempt.

Humor: being amusing or comical in writing or speech.

Emotional Appeals

In arguments we appeal to reason. Sometimes emotional appeals can be used effectively to aid the reason. Appeals to emotions can distract from the facts of the case, but they can also make the audience care about the evidence.

Are emotional appeals fallacious?

You should focus on the facts and offer reasons, but you may also provoke appropriate emotions in the readers. Be careful.

  • Do not falsify
  • Do not distract attention from the facts
  • Do think ethically about how emotional appeals may affect the audience.

Does All Writing Contain Argument?

No, but most does. Most writing uses reason to get the reader to agree with what the writer is saying.

In college, you should be using reason and evidence to support what you are saying. There should be a clear purpose and reason to your writing, hence it should be an argument.

The First and Last Rule

Authors place main points of emphasis at the beginning and ending of essays, paragraphs, and sentences.

Summarizing and Paraphrase

Summary: Say briefly what the whole adds up to.

Paraphrase: a word-by-word or phrase-by-phrase rewording of a text. A translation of the author’s language into your own.

Why summary and paraphrase?

  • validate the basis of your argument.
  • clarify the complex ideas contained in a text.
  • support your argument
  • lend authority to your voice
  • help you build new ideas from existing ideas on the topic.