Tools for Evaluating the Reasoning and Logic of Arguments
(Source: The Critical Thinking Community)
 

To incorporate the above ideas into the analysis of an argument, the following template can be used as a starting point.  It can be modified depending on the type of article or text chapter that is being discussed.

 

Template for Analyzing the Logic of an Article

 

  1. The main purpose of the article is _____________________________________. (State as accurately as possible the authorís purpose for writing the article.)
  2. The key question that the article is addressing is ______________________. (Figure out the key question in the mind of the author when s/he wrote the article.)
  3. The most important information in this article is_______________________. (Figure out the facts, experiences and data the author is using to support his/her conclusions.)
  4. The key concept(s) we need to understand in this article is/are_______________. (Figure out the most important ideas, theories, principles, axioms and rules you would have to understand in order to understand the authorís line of reasoning.)
  5. The main assumption(s) underlying the authorís thinking is/are______________. (Figure out what the author is taking for granted that might be questioned.)
  6. The main point(s) of view presented in the article is/are____________________. (What is the author looking at, and how is s/he seeing it?)

  7. The possible implications of the authorís reasoning are_____________________. (Figure out the positive and negative consequences of agreeing with and also of disagreeing with the authorís position.)

  8. The main inferences/conclusions in this article are________________________.(Identify the key conclusions the author comes to and presents in the article.  Determine if they are sound based on proper consideration of the above elements.

As an additional tool, take a look at the following criteria for evaluating reasoning that was developed by the Foundation for Critical Thinking.

 

Criteria for Evaluating Reasoning

 

  1. Purpose: what is the purpose of the reasoner?  Is the reason clearly stated or clearly implied?  Is it justifiable?

 

  1. Question (issue): Is the question at issue well-stated?  Is it clear and unbiased?  Does the expression of the question do justice to the complexity of the matter at issue?  Are the question and purpose directly relevant to each other?

 

  1. Information: Does the writer cite relevant evidence, experiences, and/or information essential to the issue?  Is the information accurate?  Does the writer address the complexities of the issue?

 

  1. Concepts: Does the writer clarify key concepts when necessary?  Are the concepts used justifiably?

 

  1. Assumptions: Does the writer show a sensitivity to what he or she is taking for granted or assuming? 

 

  1. Points of View: Does the writer show a sensitivity to alternative relevant points of view or lines of reasoning?  Does s/he consider and respond to objections framed from other relevant points of view?

 

  1. Implications: does the writer show a sensitivity to the implications and consequences of the position s/he is taking?

 

  1. Inferences/conclusions: Does the writer develop a clear line of reasoning explaining how s/he is arriving at her or his main conclusion?