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The Vocabulary of Critical Thinking

Phil Washburn

Publication Date - January 2009

ISBN: 9780195324808

400 pages
6-1/4 x 9-1/4 inches


The Vocabulary of Critical Thinking offers an innovative way to improve students' thinking skills. It begins at a practical level by helping students master the crucial terms that are the building blocks of critical thinking--terms such as "generalization," "inferring," "to confirm," "justifying," "assumption," and others. The book provides hundreds of short, accessible readings that illustrate the concepts and related thinking skills. It explains in a step-by-step fashion how students can perform the specific skills themselves.

Organized around nine basic skills--including comparing, generalizing, inferring, judging sources, experimenting, making value judgments, defining terms, assuming, and thinking creatively--The Vocabulary of Critical Thinking walks students through definitions, explanations, and applications of 108 words. Each chapter is comprised of four parts. The first part establishes a solid foundation by defining six or seven words related to one skill. The second part gives interesting real-world examples (from books and newspapers) that illustrate the concepts. The third part includes exercises allowing students to analyze a writer's arguments and thinking. Finally, each chapter ends with writing exercises that help students use a particular skill in their own writing.

As students learn specific definitions of such terms as "analogy," "sample," and "hypothesis," they will gain a better understanding of how writers use the terms. By studying the words in context, along with author Phil Washburn's commentary and questions, they will come to understand such vital types of thinking as assessing sources, determining causes, and recognizing fallacies. Students will improve their competence gradually, without being intimidated by abstract rules and technical terms.

Enhanced by numerous study questions, exercises, arguments for analysis, and writing tasks, The Vocabulary of Critical Thinking also features drawings, photographs, and an annotated bibliography. Ideal for courses in critical thinking and reasoning, it can also be used in a variety of courses on writing, the humanities, interdisciplinary topics, study skills, and college preparation.

Table of Contents

    1. Comparing
    1. to compare
    2. to contrast
    3. to distinguish
    4. analogy
    5. metaphor
    6. model
    2. Generalizing
    7. to generalize
    8. sample
    9. stereotype
    10. to classify
    11. criterion
    3. Reasoning
    12. statement
    13. argument
    14. conclusion
    15. evidence
    16. to infer
    17. reason
    18. reasoning
    4. Facts and Opinion
    19. fact
    20. opinion
    21. to confirm
    22. source
    23. critical
    24. premise
    5. Reliable Sources
    25. reliable
    26. first-hand
    27. expert
    28. credentials
    29. consensus
    30. objective
    31. to fabricate
    6. Degrees of Belief
    32. possible
    33. probable
    34. plausible
    35. convincing
    36. certain
    37. skeptical
    38. dogmatic
    7. Cause and Effect
    39. immediate cause
    40. remote cause
    41. contributing factor
    42. coincidence
    43. necessary condition
    44. sufficient condition
    8. Scientific Thinking
    45. hypothesis
    46. experiment
    47. variables
    48. controlled experiment
    49. a study
    50. correlation
    9. Explaining
    51. to explain
    52. theory
    53. to predict
    54. story
    55. motive
    56. superstition
    10. Valuing
    57. to value
    58. priority
    59. goal
    60. means and ends
    61. principle
    62. to evaluate
    63. to recommend
    11. Justifying
    64. standard
    65. to justify
    66. prejudice
    67. impartial
    68. conflict of interest
    69. universal
    70. relative
    12. Types of Reasoning
    71. to imply
    72. to support
    73. to suggest
    74. to prove
    75. to refute
    76. to deduce
    13. Mistakes in Reasoning
    77. fallacy
    78. propaganda
    79. irrelevant
    80. to rationalize
    81. slippery slope
    82. ad hominem
    83. false dilemma
    84. to beg the question
    14. Meaning
    85. to refer
    86. to mean
    87. concept
    88. to define
    89. connotation
    90. abstract
    15. Problems with Language
    91. ambiguous
    92. vague
    93. loaded term
    94. to characterize
    95. rhetoric
    96. irony
    16. Assuming
    97. to assume
    98. point of view
    99. context
    100. to interpret
    101. inconsistent
    102. to contradict
    17. Creative Thinking
    103. creative
    104. association
    105. brainstorming
    106. stimulus
    107. fantasy
    108. to modify
    For Further Study