The subskill of critical thinking argument is used in two ways. These ways are accurately illustrated by Cottrell with different activities (2005,p.38). Argument is not similar to disagreement. A person cannot approve of someone’s position without clearly indicating why he does not agree or persuade his reader or listener to think differently. There is a difference between a position, an agreement, a disagreement, and an argument in critical thinking. All these terms defined by Cottrell in this way:
- ‘Position can be defined as a point of view.
- Agreement can refer to concurrence with someone’s opinion.
- Disagreement can be defined as a different point of view from someone else.
- Argument can be used to refer to a point of view which has reasons to persuade or to support known or unknown audiences. It may also comprise disagreement if it is based on reasons’ (Cottrell, 2005, p.52). Contributing argument can be defined as reasons of an individual person. The overall argument introduces author’s position and can be used to refer to a set of reasons, or contributing arguments which are organized to support it. Thus, an argument as a part of critical thinking comprises:
- ‘A position or point of view;
- An attempt to persuade others to accept that point of view;
- Reasons given to support the point of view’ (Cottrell, 2005, p.40);
There are some key terms and phases in creating good argument. As a rule, main aim of authors is to convince a reader or a listener to believe in what they are telling. Nevertheless, in some cases, authors can purposely or unintentionally explain information differently as they strive to compass own political religious or ideological outlook, however, that does not make any argument invalid. Such statement is called a proposition and it may occur true or false. The last component in argument is conclusion where the authors’ main positions are reiterated (Hamp-Lyons & Heasley, 2006). Moreover it is important to keep in mind that whether an argument can be logical or follow closely mathematical construction of the syllogism in academic writing. Syllogism can be defined as a form of reasoning in which two propositions or premises are expressed and a logical conclusion is caused by them (The American Heritage Dictionary, 2000). Hence, it is also necessary to be familiar with stages and key words for successful argument.
In addition features of argument will depend on explicit and implicit arguments. If a text contains arguments we are to differentiate implicit and explicit ones (Ramage, Bean & Johnson, 2007, p. 3). If we look at implicit ones the argument may be hidden in the text. Explicit arguments’ nature contraries to implicit where the argument is presented in a relatively open way. There are six items which will lead a learner to identify a critical argument they are position, reasons/propositions, line of reasoning, conclusion, persuasion and signal word and phrases and six clues (start of passage, the end of a passage, interpretive summary, signal words, challenges and recommendations and words indicating a deduction) to finding the conclusion (Cottrell, 2005, p.47)
Cottrell, S. (2005) Critical Thinking Skills. England: Palgrave Macmillan Ltd.
Hamp-Lyons, L., Heasley, B. (2006). Study Writing. 2nd ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Ramage, J.D., Bean, J.C., & Johnson, J. (2007). Writing Arguments: A Rhetoric with Readings. New York: Pearson.
The American Heritage Dictionary (2000). Retrieved May 10, 2012 from