The Elements of Thought in Reasoning
All reasoning has a PURPOSE.
á Take time to state your purpose clearly
á Distinguish your purpose from related purposes
á Check periodically to be sure you are still on target
á Choose significant and realistic purposes
All reasoning is an attempt TO FIGURE SOMETHING OUT, TO SETTLE SOME QUESTION, TO SOLVE SOME PROBLEM.
á Take time to clearly and simply state the question at issue
á Express the question in several ways to clarify its meaning and scope
á Break the question into sub-questions.
á Identify if it is a factual question, a preference question, or a question that requires reasoning.
All reasoning is based on ASSUMPTIONS.
á Clearly identify your assumptions and check for their probable validity.
á Check the consistency of your assumptions.
á Reexamine your question at issue when assumptions prove insupportable.
All reasoning is done from some POINT OF VIEW.
á Identify your own point of view and its limitations.
á Seek other points of view and identify their strengths as well as weaknesses.
á Strive to be fairminded in evaluating all points of view.
All reasoning is based on DATA, INFORMATION, AND EVIDENCE.
á Restrict your claims to those supported by sufficient data.
á Lay out the evidence clearly.
á Search for information against your position and explain its relevance.
All reasoning is expressed through, and shaped by, CONCEPTS AND IDEAS.
á Identify each concept that is needed to explore the problem, and precisely define it.
á Explain the choice of important concepts and the implications of each.
á Define when concepts are used vaguely or inappropriately.
All reasoning contains INFERENCES by which we draw CONCLUSIONS and give meaning to data.
á Tie inferences lightly and directly from evidence to conclusions.
á Seek inferences that are deep, consistent and logical.
á Identify the relative strength of each of your inferences.
All reasoning leads somewhere, has IMPLICATIONS AND CONSEQUENCES.
á Trace out a variety of implications and consequences that stem from your reasoning.
á Search for negative as well as positive consequences.
á Anticipate unusual or unexpected consequences from various points of view.