active learner One who takes initiative in exploring one’s world, thinks independently and creatively, and takes responsibility for the consequences of one’s decisions.
appeal to authority A type of fallacious thinking in which the argument is intended to persuade through the appeal to various authorities with legitimate expertise in the area in which they are advising.

appeal to fear An argument in which the conclusion being suggested is supported by a reason invoking fear and not by a reason that provides evidence for the conclusion.

appeal to flattery A source of fallacious reasoning designed to influence the thinking of others by appealing to their vanity as a substitute for providing relevant evidence to support a point of view.

appeal to ignorance An argument in which the person offering the conclusion calls upon his or her opponent to disprove the conclusion. If the opponent is unable to do so, then the conclusion is asserted to be true.

appeal to personal attack A fallacy that occurs when the issues of the argument are ignored and focus is instead directed to the personal qualities of the person making the argument in an attempt to discredit the argument. Also referred to as the “ad hominem” argument (“to the man” rather than to the issue) or “poisoning the well. ”

appeal to pity An argument in which the reasons offered to support the conclusions are designed to invoke sympathy toward the person involved.

appeal to tradition A misguided way of reasoning that argues that a practice or way of thinking is “better” or “right” simply because it is older, traditional, or has “always been done that way. ”
authoritarian moral theory A moral theory in which there are clear values of “right” and “wrong,” with authorities determining what these are.
bandwagon A fallacy that relies on the uncritical acceptance of others’ opinions because “everyone believes it. ”

begging the question A circular fallacy that assumes in the premises of the argument that the conclusion about to be made is already true. Also known as “circular reasoning. ”

bias A preference or an inclination, especially one that inhibits impartial judgment.

brainstorming A method of shared problem solving in which all members of a group spontaneously contribute ideas
causal fallacies Mistakes and errors made in judgment in trying to determine causal relationships.

causal reasoning A form of inductive reasoning in which it is claimed that an event (or events) is the result of the occurrence of another event (or events).

causal relationship A relationship that involves relating events in terms of the influence or effect they have on one another.
cognition The thinking process of constructing beliefs that forms the basis of one’s understanding of the world.
constructive criticism Analysis that serves to develop a better understanding of a condition, situation, or product.

critical thinking The act or habit of carefully exploring the thinking process to clarify understanding and make more intelligent decisions.
deductive argument An argument form in which one reasons from premises that are known or assumed to be true to a conclusion that follows necessarily from these premises.
empirical generalization A form of inductive reasoning in which a general statement is made about an entire group (the target population) based on observing some members of the group (the sample population).
fallacies Unsound arguments that are often persuasive because they can appear to be logical by usually appealing to emotions and prejudices, and because they often support conclusions that we want to believe are accurate.

fallacy of relevance A fallacious argument which appeals for support to factors that have little or nothing to do with the argument being offered.

false dilemma A fallacy that occurs when we are asked to choose between two extreme alternatives without being able to consider additional options. Also known as the “either/or fallacy” or the “black-or-white fallacy. ”

falsifiable beliefs Beliefs that pass a set of tests or stated conditions formulated to test the beliefs.
inductive reasoning An argument form in which one reasons from premises that are known or assumed to be true to a conclusion that is supported by the premises but does not necessarily follow from them.

infer To conclude from evidence or premises.

inference The act or process of deriving logical conclusions from premises known or assumed to be true. OR The act of reasoning from factual knowledge or evidence.

inferential beliefs Beliefs that are based on inferences, that go beyond what can be directly observed.

inferring Going beyond factual information to describe what is not known.

internal constraints Limits to one’s freedom that come from within oneself.
moral agnosticism A theory of morality that holds there is no way to determine clearly what is right or wrong in moral situations.
paradox A seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true.

post hoc ergo propter hoc “After it, therefore because if it”; refers to situations in which, because two things occur close together in time, an assumption is made that one causes the other.

pragmatic Dealing or concerned with facts or actual occurrences; practical.

premise A proposition upon which an argument is based or from which a conclusion is drawn.

process analysis A method of analysis involving two steps: (1) to divide the process or activity being analyzed into parts or stages, and (2) to explain the movement of the process through these parts or stages from beginning to end.

process relationship In critical thinking, a relationship based on how aspects of the development of an event or object relate.

random selection A selection strategy in which every member of the target population has an equal chance of being included in the sample.

red herring A fallacy that is committed by introducing an irrelevant topic in order to divert attention for the original issue being discussed. Also known as “Smoke Screen” and “Wild Goose Chase. ”

relativism A theory, especially in ethics or aesthetics, that conceptions of truth and moral values are not absolute but are relative to the persons or groups holding them. OR In philosophy, the view that the truth is relative to any individual or situation, that there is no standard we can use to decide which beliefs make most sense.

semantic meaning A component of a word’s total meaning that expresses the relationship between a linguistic event and a nonlinguistic event.

simile An explicit comparison between basically dissimilar things made for the purpose of illuminating our understanding of the things being compared.

slippery slope A causal fallacy that asserts that one undesirable action will inevitably lead to a worse action, which will necessarily lead to a worse one still, all the way down the slippery slope to a terrible disaster at the bottom.

stereotype A conventional, formulaic, and oversimplified conception, opinion, or image.

straw man A fallacy in which a point of view is attacked by first creating a “straw man” version of the position and then “knocking down” the straw man created. The fallacy lies in that the straw man does not reflect an accurate representation of the position being challenged.

sweeping generalization A general conclusion that overlooks exceptions to the generalizations because of special features that the exceptions possess.

syllogism A form of deductive reasoning consisting of a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion.

syntactic meaning A component of a word’s total meaning which defines its relation to other words in the sentence.

synthesis The combining of separate elements or substances to form a coherent whole.