Sunday, January 8, 2017

CR3: Creating a CRITO Outline

CRITO (formed acronymically from the terms Conclusion, Reasons, Inference, Truth, and Objections) addresses both the principled reason assessment and critical attitude components of critical thinking, by requiring students to assess critically (carefully, impartially, consistently, logically, accurately, and relatively autonomously) their beliefs or claims. The individual elements of CRITO mirror the essential components of any cogent or sound inference and provide an effective outline for an argumentative or evaluative essay.

Creating a CRITO Outline

C: State conclusion (or claim) (C). (C) ought to be explicit and clear, particular or singular, important and substantive (the object of possible or actual debate), truthful and accurate, and of genuine interest to the student.

R: State reasons (R), premises, or evidence, sufficient to convince the reader of the truth (accuracy, reasonableness, and so on) of (C).

I: Test the inference (I), or argument, to ensure that reasons are sufficient to produce (C).

T: Test the truth (T) of (R), since even a valid or strong argument (that is, a valid or strong argument that passes the (I) test) may contain any number of false parts. Only the best (deductively sound or inductively cogent) arguments pass both the (I) and the (T) tests.

O: Construct the strongest imaginable objection(s) (O) to the argument. Finally, respond to the objection(s), making any necessary revisions to the original argument.

Therefore, a complete CRITO outline should look something like this and fit easily on one page:

Student's Name

C: Central claim of essay (one sentence).
R: All reasons or evidence required to defend C (one sentence for each R).
O: Strongest imaginable objection(s) to C (one sentence for each O).
RO: Response to the objection (one sentence for each RO).

(Note: There will typically be 2-3 R's and at times more than one O.)

Relation of CRITO Outline to Final Essay/Q&A
A CRITO outline produces merely the rough content for an essay, the exact form of which ought to follow the guidelines for producing critical/persuasive essays (see handout CR2) and will be determined by the effort, talent, and imagination of its author. (Note: only the content of stages C, R, and O will be noticeable in both the outline and final essay. I and T are logical tests designed solely to strengthen the overall argument of the essay.)