Wheel of Reason
Welcome to the wheel of reason, the section of our critical thinking academy focused on helping you develop your ability to analyze articles, essays, books, texts of any kind, professional and academic subjects, concepts, work products and constructs, as well as problems and issues you face in your professional or personal life.

In parts of this section, we offer specimen answers developed by our scholars and community. In other parts, we offer templates for you to work out your own analyses.
Before attempting to analyze the logic of an article, book, construct, issue, or idea, see our model of the elements of reasoning. This model is based fundamentally in the original work of Dr. Richard Paul, and is an essential component in the Paul– Elder framework for critical thinking™. Refer back to this model frequently to refresh your memory as to the eight elements of reasoning that are present in your thinking whenever you reason through anything. These same elements are present in everyone else’s reasoning as well, so use them as tools to understand others’ reasoning, as well as your own. For a deeper understanding of the elements of reasoning, read The Thinker’s Guide to Analytic Thinking by Linda Elder and Richard Paul.

Video Series

Elements of Reasoning

There are essential dimensions of thinking that humans need to master in order to learn how to deconstruct and upgrade their thinking. People need to be able to identify the "parts" of their thinking and assess their use of these parts of thinking, as follows: • All reasoning has a purpose • All reasoning is an attempt to figure something out, to settle some question, to solve some problem • All reasoning is based on assumptions • All reasoning is done from some point of view • All reasoning is based on data, information, and evidence • All reasoning is expressed through, and shaped by, concepts and ideas • All reasoning contains inferences by which we draw conclusions and give meaning to data • All reasoning leads somewhere, has implications and consequences This video collections unpacks the elements of reasoning and explains how they are essential to reasoning through content, and within all parts of life.

View Videos in the Series

To Analyze Thinking We Must Identify and Question its Elemental Structures
Use the elements with sensitivity
to Intellectual Standards »
Clarity Accuracy Precision Relevance Depth
Breadth Logic Significance Fairness more...
Purpose Question Information Interpretation Concepts Assumptions Implications Point Of View
Why the Analysis of Thinking is Important

Everyone thinks; it is our nature to do so. But much of our thinking, left to itself, is biased, distorted, partial, uninformed, or downright prejudiced. If we want to think well, we must understand at least the udiments of thought, the most basic structures out of which all thinking is made. We must learn how to take thinking apart.

All Thinking Is Defined by the Eight Elements That Make It Up. Eight basic structures are present in all thinking: Whenever we think, we think for a purpose within a point of view based on assumptions leading to implications and consequences. We use concepts, ideas and theories to interpret data, facts, and experiences in order to answer questions, solve problems, and resolve issues.

Thinking, then:
  • generates purposes
  • raises questions
  • uses information
  • utilizes concepts
  • makes inferences
  • makes assumptions
  • generates implications
  • embodies a point of view
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To read more about the elements of reasoning, click here.

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