Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking, 12th edition

  • M Browne, 
  • Stuart M. Keeley

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This print textbook is available for students to rent for their classes. The Pearson print rental program provides students with affordable access to learning materials, so they come to class ready to succeed. 

 For courses in argument, linguistics, and composition – or in any course where critical thinking is key.


Think critically, analyze objectively, and judge soundly when you know the right questions to ask.

Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking bridges the gap between simply memorizing or blindly accepting information, and the greater challenge of critical analysis and synthesis. Authors M. Neil Browne and Stuart Keeley teach students to think critically by exploring the components of arguments – the ¿¿issues, conclusions, reasons, evidence, assumptions, and language – ¿¿and showing how to spot fallacies, manipulations, and faulty reasoning. They demonstrate how to respond to alternative points of view and make the best personal choices about what information to accept or reject.


Now in its 12th Edition, this current and concise text greatly extends the understanding of critical thinking to writing and speaking. Additionally, the updated practice passages and exercises, as well as an enhanced visual program, add to this book’s appeal in a variety of courses and disciplines.

Published by Pearson (July 14th 2021) - Copyright © 2018

ISBN-13: 9780137501731

Subject: Composition

Category: Readers


Table of Contents

  • Preface
  1. The Benefit and Manner of Asking the Right Questions
    • The Noisy, Confused World We Live In
    • Experts Cannot Rescue Us, Despite What They Say
    • The Necessity of Relying on Our Mind
    • Critical Thinking to the Rescue
    • The Sponge and Panning for Gold: Alternative Thinking Styles
    • Weak-Sense and Strong-Sense Critical Thinking
      • The Importance of Practice
    • Critical Thinking and Other People
      • Primary Values of a Critical Thinker
    • Keeping the Conversation Going
      • Creating a Friendly Environment for Communication
    • Writing and Speaking as Critical Thinkers
  2. What Are the Issue and the Conclusion?
    • Kinds of Issues
    • Searching for the Issue
    • Searching for the Author’s or Speaker’s Conclusion
    • Clues to Discovery: How to Find the Conclusion
    • Practice Exercises
    • Sample Responses
  3. What Are the Reasons?
    • Initiating the Questioning Process
    • Words That Identify Reasons
    • Keeping the Reasons and Conclusions Straight
      • Reasons First, Then Conclusions
    • Writing and Speaking as Critical Thinkers
    • Practice Exercises
    • Sample Responses
  4. What Words or Phrases Are Ambiguous?
    • The Confusing Flexibility of Words
    • Locating Key Terms and Phrases
    • Checking for Ambiguity
    • Determining Ambiguity
    • Context and Ambiguity
    • Ambiguity, Definitions, and the Dictionary
    • Limits of Your Responsibility to Clarify Ambiguity
    • Writing and Speaking as Critical Thinkers
    • Practice Exercises
    • Sample Responses
  5. What Are the Value and Descriptive Assumptions?
    • General Guide for Identifying Assumptions
    • Value Conflicts and Assumptions
    • From Values to Value Assumptions
    • Typical Value Conflicts
    • The Communicator’s Background as a Clue to Value Assumptions
    • Consequences as Clues to Value Assumptions
    • More Hints for Finding Value Assumptions
    • The Value of Knowing the Value Priorities of Others
    • Values and Relativism
    • Identifying and Evaluating Descriptive Assumptions
    • Illustrating Descriptive Assumptions
    • Common Descriptive Assumptions
    • Clues for Locating Assumptions
    • Writing and Speaking as Critical Thinkers
    • Practice Exercises
    • Sample Responses
  6. Are There Any Fallacies in the Reasoning?
    • A Questioning Approach to Finding Reasoning Fallacies
    • Evaluating Assumptions as a Starting Point
    • Discovering Other Common Reasoning Fallacies
    • Looking for Diversions
    • Sleight of Hand: Begging the Question
    • Summary of Reasoning Errors
    • Expanding Your Knowledge of Fallacies
    • Practice Exercises
    • Sample Responses
  7. The Worth of Personal Experience, Case Examples, Testimonials, and Statements of Authority as Evidence
    • Fact or Opinion?
    • The Need for Dependable Evidence
    • Sources of Evidence
    • Personal Experience as Evidence
    • Case Examples as Evidence
    • Testimonials as Evidence
    • Appeals to Authority as Evidence
    • Practice Exercises
    • Sample Responses
  8. How Good Is the Evidence: Personal Observation and Research Studies?
    • Personal Observation as Evidence
    • Biased Surveys and Questionnaires
    • Research Studies as Evidence
      • General Problems with Research Findings
    • Generalizing From the Research Sample
    • Generalizing From the Research Measures
    • When You Can Most Trust Expert Opinion
      • Research and the Internet
    • Writing and Speaking as Critical Thinkers
    • Practice Exercises
    • Sample Responses
  9. Are There Rival Causes?
    • When to Look for Rival Causes
    • The Pervasiveness of Rival Causes
    • Detecting Rival Causes
    • The Cause or a Cause
    • Multiple Perspectives as a Guide to Rival Causes
    • Confusing Causation with Association
    • Confusing “After This” with “Because of This”
    • Explaining Individual Events or Acts
    • Evaluating Rival Causes
    • Rival Causes and Your Own Communication
      • Exploring Potential Causes
    • Practice Exercises
    • Sample Responses
  10. Are Any Statistics Deceptive?
    • Unknowable and Biased Statistics
    • Confusing Averages
    • Measurement Errors
    • Concluding One Thing, Proving Another
    • Deceiving by Omitting Information
    • Using Statistics in Your Writing
    • Practice Exercises
    • Sample Responses
  11. What Significant Information Is Omitted?
    • The Benefits of Detecting Omitted Information
    • The Certainty of Incomplete Reasoning
    • Questions That Identify Omitted Information
    • But We Need to Know the Numbers
    • The Importance of the Negative View
    • Omitted Information That Remains Missing
    • Writing and Speaking as Critical Thinkers
    • Practice Exercises
    • Sample Responses
  12. What Reasonable Conclusions Are Possible?
    • Dichotomous Thinking: Impediment to Considering Multiple Conclusions
    • Grey Thinking: Two Sides or Many?
    • Productivity of If-Clauses
    • The Liberating Effect of Recognizing Alternative Conclusions
    • Summary
    • Practice Exercises
    • Sample Responses
  13. Speed Bumps Interfering with Your Critical Thinking
    • The Discomfort of Asking the Right Questions
    • Thinking Too Quickly
    • Stereotypes
    • Mental Habits That Betray Us
      • Halo Effect
      • Belief Perseverance
      • Availability Heuristic
      • Answering the Wrong Question
    • Egocentrism
    • Wishful Thinking: Perhaps the Biggest Single Speed Bump on the Road to Critical Thinking
    • Final Words


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