Checklist for Reasoning
Critical thinking analyzes the thinking process, subjecting it to the discipline of reason. This checklist is adapted from information provided by Paul and Elder.1
1. All reasoning has a purpose.
- State your purpose clearly.
- Distinguish your purpose from related purposes.
- Check periodically to be sure you are still on target.
2. All reasoning is an attempt to figure something out, to settle some question, or to solve some problem.
- State the question at issue clearly and precisely.
- Express the question in several ways to clarify its meaning and scope.
- Break the question into sub-questions.
- Distinguish questions that have definitive answers from those that are a matter of opinion and from those that require consideration of multiple viewpoints.
3. All reasoning is based on assumptions.
- Clearly identify your assumptions and determine whether they are justifiable.
- Consider how your assumptions are shaping your point of view.
4. All reasoning is done from some point of view.
- Identify your point of view.
- Seek other points of view and identify their strengths as well as weaknesses.
- Strive to be fair-minded in evaluating all points of view.
5. All reasoning is based on data, information, and evidence.
- Restrict your claims to those supported by the data you have.
- Search for information that opposes your position as well as information that supports it.
- Make sure that all information used is clear, accurate, and relevant to the question at issue.
- Make sure that you have gathered sufficient information.
6. All reasoning is expressed through, and shaped by, concepts and ideas.
- Identify key concepts and explain them clearly.
- Consider alternative concepts or alternative definitions of concepts.
- Make sure you are using concepts with care and precision.
7. All reasoning contains inferences or interpretations by which we draw conclusions and give meaning to data.
- Infer only what the evidence implies.
- Check inferences for their consistency with each other.
- Identify assumptions that lead you to your inferences.
8. All reasoning leads somewhere or has implications and consequences.
- Trace the implications and consequences that follow from your reasoning.
- Search for negative as well as positive implications.
- Consider all possible consequences.
1 Paul, Dr. Richard; Elder, Dr. Linda. (2007) The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools. Dillon Beach: Foundation for Critical Thinking Press, p. 6-7