Critical Thinking with Argument Maps

By Dave Kinkead, University of Queensland Critical Thinking Project

Argument mapping checklist

How did you go in the last activity? Did your map look anything like this?

With these assumptions identified, it becomes clearer where the debate on this issue might really lie. In my example argument, much will depend on the notion of personhood and killing that was initially left unstated.

This is where argument mapping can be very useful. It provides us with a visual scaffold for our thinking and makes analysing and evaluating arguments much easier.

As you might expect from a very short introduction, we’ve skipped over a great deal of content and nuance. Argument mapping and thinking critically are skills that require practice to develop but what we’ve covered in the last 8 lessons is enough to get started.

So to summarise how we can use argument mapping to help us think critically, use the following checklist as a launch pad:

  1. What is the conclusion? State it propositionally (in a way that it can be true or false)

  2. List the reasons that do/could support it being true.

  3. Connect those reasons appropriately (are they independent or co-dependent)?

  4. Is there evidence for those reasons (or do they need their own supporting reasons)?

  5. Are there any unstated reasons needed to make the inferences stronger?

If you’ve enjoyed this course or found it useful, then you might want to think about the following subjects at UQ PHIL1110 & PHIL7111 where these ideas are covered in a lot more depth.

Finally, if you have any questions, please get in touch.

Dave Kinkead
UQ Critical Thinking Project

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