In general, there are two kinds of arguments. There are very mundane or even trivial arguments about what is healthy for us to eat or which car uses the least fuel. However, much more significant arguments may be put forward about the relative soundness of the economy or the impact of our “carbon-footprint”. In some cases this may even involve “life and death” issues such as when a jury is asked to hear arguments (and evaluate evidence) in a murder trial.
Whether an argument is trivial or not, it involves each and every one of us in making an evaluation or judgment about what we hear or see. For many people this can just mean making a decision based on the presenting evidence within a relatively short time frame (or in a reasonable period in an often busy life). This approach may work effectively much of the time, especially when we judge the argument to have minimal impact on our life. However, the regular use of a ‘lightly’ examined or even ‘unexamined’ approach may lead to a complacent habit when we hear all arguments and if we are not careful, we may end up with the ‘unexamined life’ that Socrates warned us against over 2500 years ago. In these circumstances, we may easily become hostage to other people’s interpretations of what we should do or how we should live, and we may come to not much like what they have chosen. This is why we should all engage in Critical thinking and get into the habit of using the Critical thinking approach as much as possible, no matter what the argument.
This summary booklet introduces the whole topic of critical thinking and offers a highly effective model to utilise in day-to-day life.