Critical thinking -involves two major tasks: judging the value of information and judging the strength of arguments. We decide what to believe or do based on making such judgments.

Relevance
  • Determining whether the information or arguments presented have any bearing on the matters at hand
  • Irrelevant information or argument should be rejected.
Examples:

  • A charge of irrelevance when upheld by a judge in a court of law immediately places the information presented off the record.
  • In philosophy, relevance is determined by whether the information provides knowledge about the topic, or whether the argument presented supports or negates a point of view.
Steps to Determine Relevance:

  1. Determine the topic or issue under discussion.
  2. Identify criteria to judge whether information presented relates to the topic.
  3. Sort the information into two categories: “Relevant” or “Irrelevant’
Empirical

Value

  • Information that can be verified, or obtained through the senses.
  • Non-empirical statements express beliefs, opinions, or values that cannot be verified through observation
Example:

  • “Roses are red” is an empirical statement because it can be verified by looking at some examples of roses.
  • “I like red roses” is a non-empirical statement because it expresses a value that cannot be verified by further observation.
Determining Whether Information is Empirical:

  • It’s difficult because people often make statements that purport to be empirical but are not.
  • For example: Someone tells you, “That is an excellent movie.” Is that person making an empirical statement that can be tested by further observation, or is that person expressing their own values and preferences?
Bias
  • Viewing objects, people, or events from a particular point of view.
  • Everyone has biases.
  • Awareness of one’s own or another person’s biases enables us to understand ideas more accurately and fully
  • Bias sources: culture, experience, how you were brought up, emotional and mental nature.
The Impact of Bias:

  • Ignore some information
  • Heighten importance of certain information
  • Limited information available
Reliability
  • Information and its source can be trusted.
  • There are degrees/levels of reliability.
Ways to Judge Reliability

  • Examine the credentials of the person offering us information.
  1. Someone who has a great deal of experience in a subject
  2. Information from someone who has often provided accurate information in the past.
  3. Someone who has a solid reputation

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