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
- The main purpose of the article is
_____________________________________. (State as accurately as
possible the authorís purpose for writing the article.)
- 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.)
- The most important information in this
article is_______________________. (Figure out the facts,
experiences and data the author is using to support his/her
- 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.)
- The main assumption(s) underlying the
authorís thinking is/are______________. (Figure out what the
author is taking for granted that might be questioned.)
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?)
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.)
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
- Purpose: what is the purpose of the
reasoner? Is the reason clearly stated or clearly implied? Is it
- 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
- 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?
- Concepts: Does the writer clarify key
concepts when necessary? Are the concepts used justifiably?
- Assumptions: Does the writer show a
sensitivity to what he or she is taking for granted or assuming?
- 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?
- Implications: does the writer show a
sensitivity to the implications and consequences of the position
s/he is taking?
- Inferences/conclusions: Does the writer
develop a clear line of reasoning explaining how s/he is arriving at
her or his main conclusion?