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Analogical reasoning in the law

Reasoning by analogy is central to legal reasoning. It allows lawyers and judges to pay proper regard to previous decisions, while also allowing them to extend those decisions, to work …

Reasoning by analogy

When we reason analogically, we proceed from the observation that two or more things are similar in some respects to the conclusion that they’re probably similar in some other respect …

Inference to any old explanation

We’ve seen that scientists often proceed by inference to the best explanation: they infer that a hypothesis is probably true from the fact it would, if correct, best explain their …

Science and pseudo-science

Scientific reasoning is designed to generate reliable beliefs about the natural world. Not all reasoning is scientific nor should it be: (I’m allowed to be a Milwaukee Brewers fan even …

Summary of Week 5

This week we’ve looked at the way logical and critical thinking bears on science. We saw examples of scientists proposing and testing hypotheses to explain the extinction of dinosaurs. We …

Clever Hans: cueing and the observer effect

Wilhelm Von Osten, a German high school mathematics instructor, thought that people dramatically underestimated the intelligence and reasoning skills of animals. A man of science, he set out to test …

Random controlled trials

Scientific thinking faces much the same obstacles as logical and critical thinking in general. Science has developed institutional or structural responses to many of those obstacles. Scientific practice includes particular …

Inference to the best explanation

Inferences to the best explanation are common in scientific reasoning. We offer an inference to the best explanation when we conclude that the best available explanation of an observation or …

Verification and falsification

Our tests showed that if the asteroid hypothesis were true, it would explain our observations: the fossilised dinosaur bones in rock strata up until the end of the Cretaceous period, …

Scientific theories

Theories and mere theories In everyday language, the term ‘theory’ is often used dismissively. When people say that an explanation or account is “only a theory” they are likely to …

Science and the scientific method

In the next three weeks, we’ll be looking at some broad areas in which effective logical and critical thinking is important and which generate distinct, or specific, approaches to the …

How to evaluate an argument

This video shows you how to evaluate arguments in a step-by-step manner: Identify the conclusion and the premises. Put the argument in standard form. Decide if the argument is deductive …

Irrelevant premises

A premise in an argument is irrelevant if the truth or falsity of the premise has no bearing whatsoever on the question of whether or not the conclusion is true. …

Good and bad arguments

We now have all the ingredients to be able to tell when arguments are good or bad. And it’s now quite simple: good arguments are either cogent or sound, otherwise, …