Edited by Steven W. Patterson (Wayne State University)
|Summary||Critical thinking is a cluster concept encompassing both the cognitive and meta-cognitive skills, practices and abilities, and the dispositions and character traits that make for reasonable, reflective, and self-aware judgment and decision-making. This double focus tends to produce inquiry along two general lines. One the one hand, there are inquiries that we might think of as falling broadly into applied epistemology (e.g. What are the signs of trustworthiness in a source of evidence? How can agents avoid having false beliefs about important matters? etc.). On the other, there are more normative inquiries that shade into the moral and quasi-moral (e.g. Why is it important to care about avoiding falsehoods in one’s beliefs? What practices are required for minimally responsible use of one’s rational faculties? etc.). Of key importance to the critical thinking endeavor is interest not only in settling these questions but in learning how to teach good epistemic habits and character traits to students. Questions here include what practices we ought to teach, given the limited time we have with students, how we should go about teaching it for maximally beneficial results, and how we should assess and evaluate those results to be sure that what we do is working. Predictably, it is here where critical thinking research becomes interdisciplinary in nature. There are long-standing, active bodies of research into critical thinking in education, psychology, medicine and business, just to name a few. Critical thinking researchers in philosophy have often (but by no means always) taken good work from well-constructed studies from across disciplinary lines seriously in their own work.|
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