Reasoning is considered by a number of philosophers as the highest faculty of man. It enables man to distinguish between right or wrong. However, as any other of man’s faculties, fallacies also exist in reasoning. Fallacies are errors or defects in arguments causing it to be weak and invalid. It has three common patterns including the fallacy of relevance, the fallacy of presumption and the fallacy of ambiguity (Kennerling, 2002). Under the three common patterns of fallacies are different specific fallacies. One under the fallacies of ambiguity is the fallacy of amphiboly, which occurs when all the terms in an argument is univocal.
Another is the fallacy of composition or that which has a supposition from the ascription of certain characteristics to every member of a group to the possession of that certain characteristic by the whole (Kennerling, 2002). Under the fallacy of presumption is the fallacy of accident which starts with the statement of a general rule that is true but becomes erroneous as it is applied on a specific situation. On the other hand, the fallacy of converse accident, which is also under the fallacy of presumption, is that which begins with a specific feature that is uncommon then errs as it is used to derive a general case (Kennerling, 2002).
Finally, under the fallacy of relevance is the appeal to force, which states that someone in authority threatens to bestow punishment to anyone opposing the given opposition (Kennerling, 2002). Relative to reasoning are the seven standards of critical thinking. First is clarity which is an assurance that the meaning may be comprehended. An impediment to this is a statement with unclear or irrelevant terms. Making sure that terms used in statement may easily pass for clarity. Second is accuracy or statements that contain factual information. Words that connote vagueness may distort the statement.
As such, a way to improve this is by providing specific data. A third standard for critical thinking is precision or the need to provide necessary detail. This may be hindered by lack of specific details; and as such may be improved by acquiring necessary and specific details that may point to a sound conclusion. Another criterion for critical thinking is relevance or that which asks whether the details provided are related to the matter at hand. This may be impeded by over-detailing. Because of this, a way to improve the relevance of a statement is by providing only the needed details.
Next to relevance is depth or that which tackles how complexities in the questions are answered. When a statement has been answered superficially then depth is hindered. Ergo, the way to improve it is to provide further information that may resolve the issue in a deeper, more sensible means. The sixth criterion for critical thinking is breadth or tackling the issue in more than one perspective. Staying at single standpoint and working around this alone may point to a discussion lacking breadth. As such, dealing with matter through different angles may improve this impediment. The seventh and probably the most important criterion is logic.
This asks the question, whether the discussion makes sense and whether all premises provided is relevant to the conclusion. This may be hindered by providing premises that are irrelevant to the matter at hand. As such, in order to improve it, one must give information that is necessary to point to the conclusion (Ball State University, 2009). Moreover, there are also elements of reasoning that is considered in critical thinking. These elements include the purpose or goal; the issue that needs to solved and the point of view or the perspective; the assumption and the information; and the concepts or the theories, definitions, etc., and interpretations and inferences. The element is the implication and consequences of the thinking (Green River Community College, 2005).
These elements as well as the criteria for critical thinking may be used to avoid the occurrence of misleading facts. Facts can be misleading especially when one is opposing the actions or conclusions of another. It may be done by providing negations of initially given information or premise, or through undermining and misrepresenting the arguments provided (Sant, 1999).
Ball State University. (2009). Critical Thinking Standards. Retrieved February 27, 2009, from http://www. bsu. edu/web/latracey/PBL/criticalthink. htm Green River Community College. (2005). Elements of Reasoning. Greenriver. edu. Retrieved February 27, 2009, from http://www. instruction. greenriver. edu/Luckmann/Critical%20Thinking/elements/reason. htm Kennerling, G. (2002). Logic. Philosophy Pages. Retrieved February 27, 2009, from http://www. philosophypages. com/lg/index. htm Sant, Girish. Misleading Facts. Indian Express. Retrieved February 27, 2009, from http://www. narmada. org/archive/ie/19990920. ibu20049. html