009 - The Argument Matrix (or, How to Know What You're Talking About)

In this episode I introduce an important concept, the Argument Matrix, and two related concepts associated with the Argument Matrix, “argumentative depth” and “argumentative breadth”.

These concepts are central to my views on the important role of background knowledge in critical thinking.

Or to put it more plainly, they’re central to my understanding of what it means to really know what you’re talking about.

In This Episode:

- How do we know that we know what we're talking about?
- Critical thinking education's Dirty Little Secret (critical thinking can't be taught)
- The definition of an argument
- Basic principles of argument analysis
- The challenge of evaluating the truth of premises
- The definition of an Argument Matrix
- Objections and replies
- Argumentative depth vs argumentative breadth
- Example: the fossil record and common ancestry
- Example: the ethics of abortion
- the Argument Matrix and the goals of critical thinking
- Expertise is relative
- Pro tip: assume we know less than we think