Critical Thinking

Chapter 1: Glossary

This glossary follows the organization of the textbook and other areas of this Web site and contains short definitions for all the important terms and concepts from the chapter. You will also find hyperlinks to Websites relevant to the study of these terms and concepts. You should employ good critical thinking when evaluating the merit of any information you find on the World Wide Web, including what you find by following these links.

Argument:  A set of claims, one of which, known as the conclusion, is supposed to be supported by the rest, known as reasons or premises. 

Claim:  A statement that is either true or false. 

Conclusion:  In an argument, the claim that is argued for. 

Critical Thinking:  The careful and deliberate determination of whether to accept, reject, or suspend judgment about a claim. 

Fact:  A claim that is either true or for which there is excellent evidence or justification.   Sometimes “fact” is used for the circumstances asserted by such a claim, as when we say that a claim “states a fact.”  This means only that the claim is true or that there is excellent evidence or justification for it.  

Factual Matter (matter of fact):  An issue that there are generally accepted means of settling, whether or not it has actually been settled. 

Issue:  A point that is or might be disputed, debated, or wondered about. Issues are often introduced by the word “whether,” as in the example “whether this train goes to Chattanooga.” 

Truth Value:  A necessary characteristic of a claim; that it be either true or false.  However, it is not necessary that this value be known. 

Matter of opinion:  An issue that there are no generally accepted means of settling.

Opinion:  A claim that somebody believes to be true. 

Premise:  The claim or claims in an argument that provide the reasons for believing the conclusion. 

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