Underlying assumptions - COMM 210 - Critical Thinking for business

Chapter 4 (Underlying assumptions)

Underlying assumption: logical link that fills the gap between the evidence and the claim.

                Argument is not acceptable if the underlying assumptions are questionable.

Underlying assumptions are generally implicit (understood / unspoken) as appose to explicit (clear/ Plain).

Once a person’s assumptions about a certain topic are formed, they are the foundation of everything they think, say and do. They are deeply ingrained and taken for granted. It is rare that a person will think consciously of the assumption. Part of their tacit belief system.

Tacit knowledge: knowledge you are not aware you have (bike riding example)

How to find underlying assumptions

Evaluate the gap between the evidence and the claim.

  1. What must be true if the claim is to follow from this evidence
  2. What general principal might link this particular claim to this particular evidence
  3. What beliefs might one expect from this person (the author)
  4. Could someone believe the evidence but still disagree with the claim? If so, why?

Reality assumptions

Reality assumptions: are our beliefs about what events have taken place, what exists, or how things work in the world (our beliefs about reality). They are shaped from firsthand experience, our conversations with other, and the things we read or see.

Challenging reality assumptions

Evaluate the accuracy of the reality assumptions and critique the quality of the assumptions.

Provide data that would show that the assumption is incorrect.

To challenge a reality assumption, we must present information showing that the author’s notion of reality and how the world works are debatable or just plain.

Value assumptions

Values are our ideas, our standards of right and wrong, and the way things ought to be. 

Cue words: ought, should, desirable, unacceptable.

Value conflicts occur within an individual. Values may be ranked differently by different people.

Challenging value assumptions

Value conflicts and differential value rankings are reasons for disagreement about the relevance of the presented claim.

Value: developed early in life and are resistant to change.

The task of the critical thinker becomes demonstrating that the author’s argument is rooted in a particular set of values. Since others may have a different, but equal set of values, the argument is not universally acceptable.

Effective writing

A large quantity of evidence for claims and ensuring the evidence is of good equality id both necessary and insufficient to be convincing. You must also ensure that each piece of evidence is clearly relevant. Articulate all of the underlying assumption.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is the assumption always true?
  2. Are there any circumstances in which the reality assumptions might not hold?
  3. Are there people whose value preferences might be different or in conflict with my own?
  4.  Are all of the assumptions that underlie my argument logically consistent with the others?

Decide which assumptions you should explicitly include

Think about the evidence that would be convincing for your expected readers.

StudyUp Author: James Bagshaw
Business Administration, Accounting and Management Technology
Major: Business Administration

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