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How do I Develop Deductive Reasoning & Critical Thinking Skills?

by Stella Vale

Humans continue to develop their critical thinking skills, such as analogy, inference, inductive and deductive reasoning. By developing critical thinking abilities and a deductive reasoning approach to problem solving and decision-making, you will be able to improve your comprehension abilities and become an independent thinker. Furthermore, you will be able to better recognize fallacies, rhetoric, and propaganda, become more open-minded about other people’s opinions and make better decisions in your life.

Distinguishing Deductive from Inductive Reasoning

Both deductive and inductive reasoning are part of critical thinking. Deductive reasoning involves reaching a conclusion on the basis of premises assumed to be true. For example, “All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.” Inductive reasoning, on the other hand, implies reaching a conclusion most likely to be true. For instance, “Bill has an anchor tattooed on his arm; probably, he served in the Navy.”

Analyzing Arguments

Analyzing arguments is crucial for the development of critical thinking. An argument includes statements (called premises or reasons) that support, imply or provide evidence for the conclusion. By analyzing arguments, you can identify fallacies -- defects in an argument -- in discourses and persuade others by using a rational line of reasoning. To sustain logical arguments, you need to present sound evidence and a reasonable link between it and your conclusion.

Developing Intellectual Humility

Most critical thinkers develop intellectual humility. They realize that the more you know, the more you need to learn. Dr. Linda Elder, President of the Foundation for Critical Thinking, developed an original theory of critical thinking development. Dr. Elder defines critical thinking as a self-disciplined endeavor to reason at the highest level of quality in an unbiased way and intellectual humility as awareness of your own shortcomings and limitations, such as ignorance or prejudices.

Value Judging, Not Being Judgmental

To develop logical thinking, you will have to make value judgments rather than being judgmental. According to Professor Gregg Henriques, author of “A New Unified Theory of Psychology”, you need to be empathetic and refer to universally accepted values - - rather than superficial evaluation - - when you make judgments about someone’s actions or personality. Professor Henriques emphasizes that being judgmental has harmful consequences and that you should judge the sin, not the sinner.

About the Author

Based in Vancouver, B.C., Stella Vale discovered her passion for writing while studying for her Bachelor of Arts in English. She has an MBA and a Master in economics and is a PhD candidate in business. Vale is a proposal writer and owner of a college in Vancouver.

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