Critical Reasoning Theory
Part A – Analyzing Assumptions
The questions in this chapter consists of a statement (which consists of facts, observations, discussions etc) and followed by assumptions, of which the validity is to be checked.
What is an Assumption?
An assumption is that hidden part of the statement which is assumed /supposed and taken for granted. Something that is not clearly mentioned in the statement, but is an integral part of it.
For eg: Let’s take an example of a five storey building made of glass and steel pillars. Now, the glass, the steel pillars can be clearly seen, but the foundation or base of the building is hidden or not clearly seen.
This analogy can be used to explain the questions type. The glass, pillars which can be clearly seen are parts of the building. This building is the statement of the question. On the other hand, the foundation is the hidden part, not clearly seen, which is the assumption.
So, the assumption is the hidden or the implicit part of the statement without which the statement cannot exist.
Amitabh Bachchan says, “Today, I have money, fame, property, bank balance. What do you have?”
Shashi Kapoor says, “I have my mother.”
Assumption: Mother is above all materialistic pleasures of life.
This assumption is valid as without assuming it, Shashi Kapoor wouldn’t have concluded what he said.
To check whether an assumption is implicit or not, keep the following point in mind:
The Assumption should be in the domain of the statement, i.e., it should be directly related to the statement. If the assumption talks about any point, not mentioned in the statement, it has to be out rightly rejected.
“All the sweets available in our shop are made from pure ingredients.” The banner outside a sweet shop
Assumption 1: People can spend any amount of money to buy sweets made from pure ingredients.
Invalid Assumption: The owner of the sweet shop may have thought about the money factor associated with the sweets, but the assumption cannot be accepted as it is not mentioned in the statement.
(2) Any assumption can be accepted if it is:
(a) Root Cause of a statement, or
(b) Desired effect of a statement.
For the statement discussed above
Assumption 2: People want sweets made from pure ingredients.
Valid assumption: The assumption is the root cause of the statement. People want sweets made from pure ingredients, that is why the banner was put up.
Assumption 3: The owner of the shop expected that people will get attracted from the banner and his sales will increase.
Valid Assumption: This is the desired effect of the statement.
- Always check whether an assumption is implicit or not, by “Keeping yourself in the shoes of the subject”. Think from the perspective of the person saying the line in the statement, the person giving the advertisement, the person advising someone etc. As in the example above, check the assumptions from the perspective of owner of the shop, not yourself.
- Always be careful of the extreme words used in the sentence, such as, most, only, all, best, definitely etc. the statement are supposed to be read carefully to pick the right assumption.
Part B – Analyzing Conclusions
In these type of questions a statement is given followed by some conclusions. The student is required to go through the statements meticulously and then decide which of the given conclusion/s follows on its basis.
Statement: A statement is a formal account of certain facts, views, problems or situations expressed in words.
Conclusion: A conclusion is a belief or an opinion that is the result of reasoning out a given statement. It can also be defined as a proposition in an argument to which other propositions in the argument given support.
What we exactly to do solve these questions is, understand the statement which is given and then start deducing the possible things which can be understood from the statement given.
For example: – Statement: India’s economy depends primarily on forests.
Conclusion 1– trees are to be preserved to foster India’s economic development.
Conclusion 2– India only has to preserve forests for growth in economy.
From the statement we can understand: a) Trees are important for Indian Economy.
b) Forests contribute a major part in Indian Economy.
c) For Development of economy, we need to preserve forests.
Now conclusion 1 says that, Trees are to be preserved to foster India’s economic development, which is same as point c). Therefore, it is same as what we have concluded, therefore, conclusion 1 is correct and will follow.
Conclusion 2 says that, India only has to preserve forests for growth in economy. See, the statement indicates that Indian economy mainly depends on forests but it does not say it only depends on forests. So preserving “ONLY” forests for growth of economy cannot be deduced. Therefore, conclusion 2 will not follow.
- Read the statement carefully.
- Try understanding the possible things that can be understood from the statement.
- Then read the conclusions. Do this with utmost care.
- Try to compare the conclusions with the deductions that you drew of the statement previously.
- The conclusions that are same as those deductions will follow.
Keywords: Words, such as all, no, few, most, must, had to, will be, always, never, should be, may, may not etc, help in evaluating the given conclusions.
Part C – Analyzing Arguments
We hope based on the practice so far, you are ready to take on the challenge of analyzing arguments. A sample question in this contains a short paragraph that represents an argument. Your task is to read the paragraph and determine the main point that the author is trying to make. Out of the options provided, one would support the author’s argument better than the others. Recommended approach here is to make the conclusion from the paragraph in your own words and then look at the options to see which one matches your conclusion. Let us start with a few examples.
Q1) If you are a fitness walker, there is no need for a commute to a health club. Your neighborhood can be your health club. You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to get a good work out either. All you needs is a well-designed pair of athletic shoes.
The paragraph best supports the statement that
- Fitness walking is a better form of exercise than weight lifting
- A membership in a health club is a poor investment
- Walking outdoors provides a better workout than walking indoors
- Fitness walking is a convenient and valuable form of exercise
- Poorly designed athletic shoes can cause major foot injuries
A1) Correct answer is (4)
The paragraph states that fitness walking will result in a good workout. At first glance, choice (b) may seem like the correct answer, but keep in mind the paragraph only refers to people who are fitness walkers, for others a health club may be a good investment.
Statement: A statement is defined as that which is expressible by a sentence and is either true or false. The criterion of being either true or false is one thing that served to identify the informative use of language.
A statement is a more abstract entity than even a sentence type. It is not identical with the sentence used to express it.
The English word “three,” the Arabic numeral “3,” and the Roman numeral “III” are all used to express the same number. The number, however, is not identical with any of these.
In a similar way, different sentences can be used to express the same statement. Consider the following pairs.
The original copy of Alice in Wonderland is in the British Museum.
In the British Museum is the original copy of Alice in Wonderland.
Columbus discovered America.
America was discovered by Columbus.
Black is the color of my true love’s hair.
My true love has black hair.
Each pair of sentences can be used to express something that is either true or false.
Not only can different sentences be used to express the same statement, but also the same sentence can be used on different occasions to express different statements. Here is an example of how this can occur.
John: You are the best logic student.
Bill: You are the best logic student.
John and Bill have used the same sentence type, but they are not expressing the same statement in using the sentence. John is expressing the same statement as the sentence “Bill is the best logic student.” Bill is expressing the same statement as the sentence, “John is the best logic student.” The two sentences “Bill is the best logic student” and “John is the best logic student” are not the same sentence type and do not express the same statement.
Argument: In everyday English, an argument is a dispute or debate. In logic, the term has a more technical meaning. An argument is a set of at least two statements, one of which is the conclusion of the argument, and the rest of which are premises offered in support of the conclusion.
Neither physical force, nor psychological force, nor submission to authority advance truth. Though the use of argument does not always advance truth, it is the surest route we have, and the best way of avoiding error.
Because an argument is a set of statements, it is objective. It is not dependent upon the person who thought of it.
An argument must consist of at least two statements. One, and only one statement will be the conclusion. The rest of the statements will be premises of the argument. The expression of an argument will often contain indicator words that help identify the premises and conclusion. Some conclusion indicators are:
- as a result
- it follows that.
These terms tell us that what follows expresses a conclusion. The other statements in the argument must be premises.
There are also terms, which indicate premises. Some of these are:
- in light of
- in view of
- as shown by.
Identifying the premises allows us to determine that the remaining statement in the argument is the conclusion.
Each question given below consists of a statement, followed by two arguments numbered I and II. You have to decide which of the arguments is a ‘strong’ argument and which is a ‘weak’ argument.
(A) If only argument I is strong
(B) If only argument II is strong
(C) If either I or II is strong
(D) If neither I nor II is strong and
(E) If both I and II are strong.
Should India become a permanent member of UN’s Security Council?
I Yes. India has emerged as a country which loves peace and amity.
II No. Let us first solve problems of our own people like poverty, malnutrition.
- Only argument I is strong
- Only argument II is strong
- Either I or II is strong
- Neither I nor II is strong
- Both I and II are strong
Answer: Option 1
A peace-loving nation like India can well join an international forum which seeks to bring different nations on friendly terms with each other. So, argument I holds strong. Argument II highlights a different aspect. The internal problems of a nation should not debar it from strengthening international ties. So, argument II is vague.
Should an organization like UNO be dissolved?
I Yes. With cold war coming to an end, such organizations have no role to play
II No, In the absence of such organizations there may be a world war.
- Only argument I is strong
- Only argument II is strong
- Either I or II is strong
- Neither I nor II is strong
- Both I and II are strong
Answer: Option B
An organization like UNO is meant to maintain peace all over and will always serve to prevent conflicts between countries. So, its role never ends. So, argument I does not hold. Also, lack of such an organization may in future lead to increased mutual conflicts and international wars, on account of lack of a common platform for mutual discussions. So, argument II holds
Part D – Matching Definitions and Making Judgments
There are generally two question formats in this section. In one particular format, you will be asked to match definitions to particular situations. For each question, you will be given a definition and possible answer choices. Read each definition and answer the question solely on the basis of the definition given. This is similar to the reading comprehension section, only difference being the length of the passage. You may see a 2-3 line statement instead of a 3-4 paragraph passage. Lets us give this a shot !
Q1) It is appropriate to compensate someone if you have damaged his or her property in some way. This is called Restitution. Which situation below is the best example of Restitution ?
- Rakesh borrows Leela’s camera and the lens shatters when it falls on the ground. When Rakesh returns the camera, he tells Leela that he will pay for the repair
- Sam borrows his neighbour’s car and when he returns it, the gas tank is practically empty. He apologizes profusely and tells the neighbour he will be more careful the next time
- Ashish calls Tanya to check in on his house while he is out of town. When Tanys arrives, she discovers that a water pipe is broken and she call a plumber.
- Lokesh suspects that the pothole in his company’s parking lot caused his flat tire. He tells his boss that he thinks the company should pay for the repair
A1) Correct answer is (1). Rakesh borrowed the camera and has agreed to pay for the repairs
Part E —Verbal Reasoning
In these type of questions, you may be given a short, informational paragraph and answer choices. Your job is to find the statement that ‘must’ be true according to the given information. The best way to approach this problem is to read the answer choices in urn, going back each time to look for the exact information in the short passage.
Let us try some sample questions in which you need to find the statement that must be true according to the given information.
Q1) Roshini is twelve years old. For three years, she has been asking her parents for a dog. Her parents have told her that they believe a dog would not be happy in their flat, but they have given her permission to have a bird. Roshini has not decided what kind of bird she would like to have
- Roshini’s parents like birds better than they like dogs
- Roshini does not like birds
- Roshini and her parents live in a flat
- Roshini and her parents would not like to move
A1) Correct answer is 3. The only definitive conclusion that you can draw from information provided is that the family lives in a falt