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Thinking Critically, Seventh Edition
John Chaffee et al.
Additional Chapter Activities
Chapter 11: Reasoning Critically

  1. Generalizing involves grouping and interpreting based on perceived commonalities. However, generalization (as in hasty generalization and sweeping generalization) can lead to things like stereotyping, whose consequences can be extremely serious (racism and sexism, for example). Write a short essay in which you consider how you generalize on a day-to-day basis (because generalization can be a necessary part of organizing our world), but also consider how you've experience generalizations that have become negative stereotypes (perhaps you have been stereotyped yourself, or perhaps you have judged people based on a stereotype).

  2. Occam's Razor (developed by William of Ockham in Medieval England) states that the simplest explanation for a problem or situation is usually the right one (or, more correctly, that hypotheses requiring fewer assumptions are more likely to be correct than those requiring more assumptions). However, it is not always the case that a particular effect is the result of the most obvious cause, or that the simplest explanation for something is always the right one. Write a short essay in which you recall a time when Occam's Razor did not apply—that is, the explanation for a particular problem or situation was an unlikely one, even though it turned out to be true.


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