“Criticalthinking in higher education” is a phrase that means many things to many people. It is a broad church. Does it mean a propensity for finding fault? Does it refer to an analytical method? Does it mean an ethical attitude or a disposition? Does it mean all of the above? Educating to develop critical intellectuals and the Marxist concept of critical consciousness are very different from the logician’s toolkit of finding fallacies in passages of text, (...) or the practice of identifying and distinguishing valid from invalid syllogisms. Criticalthinking in higher education can also encompass debates about critical pedagogy, i.e., political critiques of the role and function of education in society, critical feminist approaches to curriculum, issues related to what has become known as critical citizenship, or any other education-related topic that uses the appellation “critical”. Equally, it can, and usually does, refer to the importance and centrality of developing general skills in reasoning—skills that we hope all graduates possess. Yet, despite more than four decades of dedicated scholarly work “criticalthinking” remains as elusive as ever. As a concept, it is, as Raymond Williams has noted, a ‘most difficult one’ (Williams, 1976, p. 74). (shrink)
This text uses the educational objectives of Benjamin Bloom as six steps to criticalthinking (namely: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation). The book starts with the absolute basics (for example, how to find the topic, issue, and thesis) vs. the usual "explaining and evaluating arguments" and fine distinctions that easily can lose students.
This paper argues that general skills and the varieties of subject-specific discourse are both important for teaching, learning and practising criticalthinking. The former is important because it outlines the principles of good reasoning simpliciter (what constitutes sound reasoning patterns, invalid inferences, and so on). The latter is important because it outlines how the general principles are used and deployed in the service of ‘academic tribes’. Because criticalthinking skills are—in part, at least—general skills, they can (...) be applied to all disciplines and subject-matter indiscriminately. General skills can help us assess reasoning independently of the vagaries of the linguistic discourse we express arguments in. The paper looks at the debate between the ‘specifists’—those who stress the importance of criticalthinking understood as a subject-specific discourse—and the ‘generalists’—those that stress the importance of criticalthinking understood independently of disciplinary context. The paper suggests that the ‘debate’ between the specifists and the generalists amounts to a fallacy of the false alternative, and presents a combinatory-‘infusion’ approach to criticalthinking. (shrink)
There are empirical grounds to doubt the effectiveness of a common and intuitive approach to teaching debiasing strategies in criticalthinking courses. We summarize some of the grounds before suggesting a broader taxonomy of debiasing strategies. This four-level taxonomy enables a useful diagnosis of biasing factors and situations, and illuminates more strategies for more effective bias mitigation located in the shaping of situational factors and reasoning infrastructure—sometimes called “nudges” in the literature. The question, we contend, then becomes how (...) best to teach the construction and use of such infrastructures. (shrink)
After determining one set of skills that we hoped our students were learning in the introductory philosophy class at Carnegie Mellon University, we performed an experiment twice over the course of two semesters to test whether they were actually learning these skills. In addition, there were four different lectures of this course in the first semester, and five in the second; in each semester students in some lectures were taught the material using argument diagrams as a tool to aid understanding (...) and critical evaluation, while the other students were taught using more traditional methods. In each lecture, the students were given a pre-test at the beginning of the semester, and a structurally identical post-test at the end. We determined that the students did develop the skills in which we were interested over the course of the semester. We also determined that the students who were taught argument diagramming gained significantly more than the students who were not. We conclude that learning how to construct argument diagrams significantly improves a student’s ability to analyze arguments. (shrink)
This paper concentrates on the resurrection of the journey of analytic philosophy from the perspective of ‘criticalthinking,’ a tool of proper thought and understanding. To define an era of philosophy as analytic seems indeed a difficult attempt. However, my attempt would be to look up a few positions from the monumental thoughts of Frege, Russell, Carnap, Wittgenstein, Quine and Putnam on their ‘analysis’ minded outlooks that developed in different ways basing on logic, scientific spirit, conceptual, language etc. (...) Analytic philosophers intend to intertwine between word and world in terms of mind and language guided by critical analysis that I think remarkably encompassed by clarity, truth, analysis, accuracy and open-mindedness. My attempt would be to resurge the philosophical development of analytic philosophy in different periods that enormously nourished by the idea of ‘criticalthinking’ and the analysis of natural language. (shrink)
This is Part I of a two-part reflection by Robert Ennis on his involvement in the criticalthinking movement. Part I deals with how he got started in the movement and with the development of his influential definition of criticalthinking and his conception of what criticalthinking involves. Part II of the reflection will appear in the next issue of INQUIRY, Vol. 26, No. 2 (Summer 2011), and it will cover topics concerned with (...) assessing criticalthinking, teaching criticalthinking, and what the future may hold. (shrink)
This article provides somephilosophical ``groundwork'' for contemporary debatesabout the status of the idea(l) of criticalthinking.The major part of the article consists of a discussionof three conceptions of ``criticality,'' viz., criticaldogmatism, transcendental critique (Karl-Otto Apel),and deconstruction (Jacques Derrida). It is shown thatthese conceptions not only differ in their answer tothe question what it is ``to be critical.'' They alsoprovide different justifications for critique andhence different answers to the question what giveseach of them the ``right'' to be (...) class='Hi'>critical. It is arguedthat while transcendental critique is able to solvesome of the problems of the dogmatic approach tocriticality, deconstruction provides the most coherentand self-reflexive conception of critique. A crucialcharacteristic of the deconstructive style of critiqueis that this style is not motivated by the truth ofthe criterion (as in critical dogmatism) or by acertain conception of rationality (as intranscendental critique), but rather by a concern forjustice. It is suggested that this concern should becentral to any redescription of the idea(l) ofcritical thinking. (shrink)
The articles included in this issue represent some of the most recent thinking in the area of criticalthinking in higher education. While the emphasis is on work being done in the Australasian region, there are also papers from the USA and UK that demonstrate the international interest in advancing research in the area. -/- ‘Criticalthinking’ in the guise of the study of logic and rhetoric has, of course, been around since the days of (...) the ancient Greeks and the early beginnings of universities. In a narrower sense, criticalthinking has been central to higher education as a desirable attribute of graduates since at least the beginning of the twentieth century. The work of John Dewey, and others, emphasised the importance of ‘good habits of thinking’ as early as 1916. In 1945, the Harvard Committee placed emphasis on the importance of ‘thinking effectively’ as one of three desirable educational abilities in their General education in a free society. This was later endorsed in 1961 by the US-based Educational Policies Commission: ‘The purpose which runs through and strengthens all other educational purposes … is the development of the ability to think’ (Kennedy, Fisher, & Ennis, 1991, pp. 11–12). -/- In recent times, universities have made a point of emphasising the importance of criticalthinking as a ‘generic skill’ that is central to most, if not all, subjects. There is not a university today (in Australia at least) that does not proudly proclaim that their graduates will – as a result of a degree program in their institution – learn to think critically. Further, there is rarely a subject taught that does not offer the opportunity to acquire skills in criticalthinking. However, where is the evidence that we teach criticalthinking in higher education? Disturbingly, despite our best intentions, it appears we may be teaching very little of it. (shrink)
The concepts of autonomy and of criticalthinking play a central role in many contemporary accounts of the aims of education. This book analyses their relationship to each other and to education, exploring their roles in mortality and politics before examining the role of criticalthinking in fulfilling the educational aim of preparing young people for autonomy. The author analyses different senses of the terms 'autonomy' and 'criticalthinking' and the implications for education. Implications (...) of the discussion for contemporary practice are also considered. (shrink)
As a philosophy professor, one of my central goals is to teach students to think critically. However, one difficulty with determining whether criticalthinking can be taught, or even measured, is that there is widespread disagreement over what criticalthinking actually is. Here, I reflect on several conceptions of criticalthinking, subjecting them to critical scrutiny. I also distinguish criticalthinking from other forms of mental processes with which it is often (...) conflated. Next, I present my own conception of criticalthinking, wherein it fundamentally consists in acquiring, developing, and exercising the ability to grasp inferential connections holding between statements. Finally, given this account of criticalthinking, and given recent studies in cognitive science, I suggest the most effective means for teaching students to think critically. (shrink)
The way that criticalthinking has been framed as aneducational objective has led, on the one hand, to itssuccessful saturation of educational discourse and, onthe other, to an equation of criticalthinking withdemonstrable rhetorical skills. This essay suggeststhat both criticalthinking and obstacles tosuccessful criticalthinking are most commonly foundin the activities of everyday life. Humans deploycritical thinking in expressions of socialimagination, illuminations of our selves andrelationship, and in ethical choices and (...) publicengagements. By reframing criticalthinking,educators may find ways to enrich its exercise both inand out of the classroom. (shrink)
Criticalthinking involves deliberate application of tests and standards to beliefs per se and to methods used to arrive at beliefs. Pedagogical license is authorization accorded to teachers permitting them to use otherwise illicit means in order to achieve pedagogical goals. Pedagogical license is thus analogous to poetic license or, more generally, to artistic license. Pedagogical license will be found to be pervasive in college teaching. This presentation suggests that criticalthinking courses emphasize two topics: first, (...) the nature and usefulness of criticalthinking; second, the nature and pervasiveness of pedagogical license. Awareness of pedagogical license alerts the student to the need for criticalthinking. Indoctrination is done to students; education is done by students. (shrink)
Peer Instruction is a simple and effective technique you can use to make lectures more interactive, more engaging, and more effective learning experiences. Although well known in science and mathematics, the technique appears to be little known in the humanities. In this paper, we explain how Peer Instruction can be applied in philosophy lectures. We report the results from our own experience of using Peer Instruction in undergraduate courses in philosophy, formal logic, and criticalthinking. We have consistently (...) found it to be a highly effective method of improving the lecture experience for both students and the lecturer. (shrink)
"Crooked people deceive themselves in order to deceive others; in this way the world comes to ruin." This quote from a medieval Confucianist expresses the ethical danger of self-deception. My paper examines the psychological proclivity for self-deception and argues that it lies behind much social and interpersonal injustice. I review Hitler's Mein Kampf, as a premiere example of such cognitive duplicity, and Socratic dialectic, as an example of the cognitive hygiene necessary to combat it. I conclude that a robust educational (...) program of Socratic-style criticalthinking is crucial to the furtherance of a just society. (shrink)
: Donald Trump has been a godsend for those of us who teach criticalthinking. For he is a fount of manipulative rhetoric, glaring fallacies, conspiracy theories, fake news, and bullshit. In this paper I draw on my own recent teaching experience in order to discuss both the usefulness and the limits of using Trumpexamples in teaching criticalthinking. In Section One I give the framework of the course; in Section Two I indicate Trump’s relevance to (...) many important concepts in the course; and in Section Three I argue that criticalthinking instructors should restrain themselves from overreliance on Trump-examples. Résumé: Donald Trump a été une aubaine pour ceux d'entre nous qui enseignent la pensée critique. Car il est une source de rhétorique manipulatrice, de sophismes flagrants, de théories du complot, de fausses nouvelles et de conneries. Dans cet article, je me base sur ma propre expérience d'enseignement afin de discuter à la fois de l'utilité et des limites de l'utilisation des exemples de Trump dans la formation de la pensée critique. Dans la première partie, je donne le cadre du cours ; dans la deuxième section, j'indique la pertinence de Trump dans l’enseignement de nombreux concepts importants du cours; et dans la troisième section, je soutiens que les instructeurs de la pensée critique devraient se retenir de trop se fier aux exemples de Trump. (shrink)
In the late 20th century theorists within the radical feminist tradition such as Haraway highlighted the impossibility of separating knowledge from knowers, grounding firmly the idea that embodied bias can and does make its way into argument. Along a similar vein, Moulton exposed a gendered theme within criticalthinking that casts the feminine as toxic ‘unreason’ and the ideal knower as distinctly masculine; framing criticalthinking as a method of masculine knowers fighting off feminine ‘unreason’. Theorists (...) such as Burrow have picked up upon this tradition, exploring the ways in which this theme of overly masculine, or ‘adversarial’, argumentation is both unnecessary and serves as an ineffective base for obtaining truth. Rooney further highlighted how this unnecessarily gendered context results in argumentative double binds for women, undermining their authority and stifling much-needed diversity within philosophy as a discipline. These are damning charges that warrant a response within criticalthinking frameworks. We suggest that the broader criticalthinking literature, primarily that found within contexts of critical pedagogy and dispositional schools, can and should be harnessed within the criticalthinking literature to bridge the gap between classical and feminist thinkers. We highlight several methods by which philosophy can retain the functionality of criticalthinking while mitigating the obstacles presented by feminist critics and highlight how the adoption of such methods not only improves criticalthinking, but is also beneficial to philosophy, philosophers and feminists alike. (shrink)
For centuries, philosophy has been considered as an intellectual activity requiring complex cognitive skills and predispositions related to complex (or critical) thinking. The Philosophy for Children (P4C) approach aims at the development of criticalthinking in pupils through philosophical dialogue. Some contest the introduction of P4C in the classroom, suggesting that the discussions it fosters are not philosophical in essence. In this text, we argue that P4C is philosophy.
Assuming that criticalthinking dispositions are at least as important as criticalthinking abilities, Ennis examines the concept of criticalthinking disposition and suggests some criteria for judging sets of them. He considers a leading approach to their analysis and offers as an alternative a simpler set, including the disposition to seek alternatives and be open to them. After examining some gender-bias and subject-specificity challenges to promoting criticalthinking dispositions, he notes some (...) difficulties involved in assessing criticalthinking dispositions, and suggests an exploratory attempt to assess them. (shrink)
_Critical Thinking_ is a much-needed guide to thinking skills and above all to thinking critically for oneself. Through clear discussion, students learn the skills required to tell a good argument from a bad one. Key features include: *jargon-free discussion of key concepts in argumentation *how to avoid confusions surrounding words such as 'truth', 'knowledge' and 'opinion' *how to identify and evaluate the most common types of argument *how to spot fallacies in arguments and tell good reasoning from bad (...) *topical examples from politics, sport, medicine, music *chapter summaries, glossary and exercises _Critical Thinking_ is essential reading for anyone, student or professional, seeking to improve their reasoning and arguing skills. (shrink)
Extensively classroom-tested, CriticalThinking: An Introduction to Analytical Reading and Reasoning provides a non-technical vocabulary and analytic apparatus that guide students in identifying and articulating the central patterns found in reasoning and in expository writing more generally. Understanding these patterns of reasoning helps students to better analyze, evaluate, and construct arguments and to more easily comprehend the full range of everyday arguments found in ordinary journalism. CriticalThinking distinguishes itself from other texts in the field by (...) emphasizing analytical reading as an essential skill. It also provides detailed coverage of argument analysis, diagnostic arguments, diagnostic patterns, and fallacies. Opening with two chapters on analytical reading that help students recognize what makes reasoning explicitly different from other expository activities, the text then presents an interrogative model of argument to guide them in the analysis and evaluation of reasoning. This model allows a detailed articulation of "inference to the best explanation" and gives students a view of the pervasiveness of this form of reasoning. The author demonstrates how many common argument types--from correlations to sampling--can be analyzed using this articulated form. He then extends the model to deal with several predictive and normative arguments and to display the value of the fallacy vocabulary. Designed for introductory courses in criticalthinking, critical reasoning, informal logic, and inductive reasoning, CriticalThinking features hundreds of exercises throughout and includes worked-out solutions and additional exercises (without solutions) at the end of each chapter. An Instructor's Manual, including solutions to the text's unanswered exercises and featuring other pedagogical aids, is available. (shrink)
Teaching criticalthinking skill is a central pedagogical aim in many courses. These skills, it is hoped, will be both portable and durable. Yet, both of these virtues are challenged by pervasive and potent cognitive biases, such as motivated reasoning, false consensus bias and hindsight bias. In this paper, I argue that a focus on the development of metacognitive skill shows promise as a means to inculcate debiasing habits in students. Such habits will help students become more (...) class='Hi'>critical reasoners. I close with suggestions for implementing this strategy. (shrink)
Although higher education understands the need to develop critical thinkers, it has not lived up to the task consistently. Students are graduating deficient in these skills, unprepared to think critically once in the workforce. Limited development of cognitive processing skills leads to less effective leaders. Various definitions of criticalthinking are examined to develop a general construct to guide the discussion as criticalthinking is linked to constructivism, leadership, and education. Most pedagogy is content-based built (...) on deep knowledge. Successful criticalthinking pedagogy is moving away from this paradigm, teaching students to think complexly. Some of the challenges faced by higher education moving to a criticalthinking curricula are discussed, and recommendations are offered for improving outcomes. (shrink)
Theorists have hypothesized that skill in criticalthinking is positively correlated with the consistent internal motivation to think and that specific criticalthinking skills are matched with specific criticalthinking dispositions. If true, these assumptions suggest that a skill-focused curriculum would lead persons to be both willing and able to think. This essay presents a researchbased expert consensus definition of criticalthinking, argues that human dispositions are neither hidden nor unknowable, describes a (...) scientific process of developing conventional testing tools to measure cognitive skills and human dispositions, and summarizes recent empirical research findings that explore the possible relationship of criticalthinking skill and the consistent internal motivation, or disposition, to use that skill. Empirical studies indicate that for all practical purposes the hypothesized correlations are not evident. It would appear that effective teaching must include strategies for building intellectual character rather than relying exclusively on strengthening cognitive skills. (shrink)
Enhanced by many innovative exercises, examples, and pedagogical features, The Power of CriticalThinking: Effective Reasoning About Ordinary and Extraordinary Claims, Second Edition, explores the essentials of critical reasoning, argumentation, logic, and argumentative essay writing while also incorporating material on important topics that most other texts leave out. Author Lewis Vaughn offers comprehensive treatments of core topics, including an introduction to claims and arguments, discussions of propositional and categorical logic, and full coverage of the basics of inductive (...) reasoning. Building on this solid foundation, he also delves into areas neglected by other texts, adding extensive material on "inference to the best explanation" and on scientific reasoning; a thorough look at the evaluation of evidence and credibility; and a chapter on the psychological and social factors that can impede criticalthinking. Additional notable elements are a chapter on moral reasoning, advice on how to evaluate Internet sources, and guidelines for evaluating occult, paranormal, or supernatural claims. The Power of CriticalThinking, Second Edition, integrates many pedagogical features including hundreds of diverse exercises, examples, and illustrations; progressive, stand-alone writing modules; numerous text boxes; step-by-step guidelines for evaluating claims, arguments, and explanations; a glossary of important terms; and many reminders, summaries, and review notes throughout. The text is supplemented by a companion website at www.oup.com/us/criticalthinking (offering a student study guide and more), and an Instructor's Manual with Test Questions (available both in print and on a CD). This unique text features a modular structure that allows instructors to teach the chapters in almost any order. Written in a student-friendly style and enhanced by humor where appropriate, it is ideal for courses in criticalthinking, introduction to logic, informal logic, argumentative writing, and introduction to argumentation. New to the Second Edition * Full-color throughout and an expanded art program (37 more photos and illustrations) * A new writing module--an annotated sample student paper--and five additional essays for analysis * A new section on evaluating news reports and advertising * Timely discussions of intelligent design and population (nonintervention) studies * Expanded coverage of experts and authors and reasons to doubt their reliability * More "Field Problems" and exercise questions * Chapter objectives and key terms with definitions for each chapter. (shrink)
Should we always engage in criticalthinking about issues of public policy, such as health care, gun control, and LGBT rights? Michael Huemer (2005) has argued for the claim that in some cases it is not epistemically responsible to engage in criticalthinking on these issues. His argument is based on a reliabilist conception of the value of criticalthinking. This article analyzes Huemer's argument against the epistemic responsibility of criticalthinking by (...) engaging it critically. It presents an alternative account of the value of criticalthinking that is tied to the notion of forming and deploying a critical identity. And it develops an account of our epistemic responsibility to engage in criticalthinking that is not dependent on reliability considerations alone. The primary purpose of the article is to provide criticalthinking students, or those that wish to reflect on the value of criticalthinking, with an opportunity to think metacritically about criticalthinking by examining an argument that engages the question of whether it is epistemically responsible for one to engage in criticalthinking. (shrink)
Based on a rather simple thesis that we can learn from our mistakes, Karl Popper developed a falsificationist epistemology in which knowledge grows through falsifying, or criticizing, our theories. According to him, knowledge, especially scientific knowledge, progresses through conjectures that are controlled by criticism, or attempted refutations . As he puts it, ‘Criticism of our conjectures is of decisive importance: by bringing out our mistakes it makes us understand the difficulties of the problem which we are trying to solve. This (...) is how we become better acquainted with our problem, and able to propose more mature solutions: the very refutation of a theory ... is always a step forward that takes us nearer to the truth. And this is how we can learn from our mistakes’ . Since criticism plays such a crucial role in Popper's falsificationist methodology, it seems natural to envisage his heuristic as a helpful resource for developing criticalthinking. However, there is much controversy in the psychological literature over the feasibility and utility of his falsificationism as a heuristic. In this paper, I first consider Popper's falsificationism within the framework of his critical rationalism, elucidating three core and interrelated concepts, viz. fallibilism, criticism, and verisimilitude. Then I argue that the implementation of Popper's falsificationism means exposing to criticism various philosophical presuppositions that work against criticism, such as essentialism, instrumentalism, and conventionalism; it also means combating what seems a common tendency of humans to be biased towards confirmation. I examine the confirmation bias, to which Popper did not give much attention: its pervasiveness and various guises, some theoretical explanations for it, and the role of teachers in undermining its strength and spread. Finally, I consider the question whether students can and should be taught to use disconfirmatory strategies for solving problems. (shrink)
The Watson-Glaser CriticalThinking Appraisal Test is one of the oldest, most frequently used, multiple-choice critical-thinking tests on the market in business, government, and legal settings for purposes of hiring and promotion. I demonstrate, however, that the test has serious construct-validity issues, stemming primarily from its ambiguous, unclear, misleading, and sometimes mysterious instructions, which have remained unaltered for decades. Erroneously scored items further diminish the test’s validity. As a result, having enhanced knowledge of formal and informal (...) logic could well result in test subjects receiving lower scores on the test. That’s not how things should work for a CT assessment test. (shrink)
Michael Huemer () argues that following the epistemic strategy of CriticalThinking—that is, thinking things through for oneself—leaves the agent epistemically either worse off or no better off than an alternative strategy of Credulity—that is, trusting the authorities. Therefore, CriticalThinking is not epistemically responsible. This article argues that Reasonable Credulity entails CriticalThinking, and since Reasonable Credulity is epistemically responsible, the CriticalThinking that it entails is epistemically responsible too.
This article challenges the common view that improvements in criticalthinking are best pursued by investigations in informal logic. From the perspective of research in psychology and neuroscience, hu-man inference is a process that is multimodal, parallel, and often emo-tional, which makes it unlike the linguistic, serial, and narrowly cog-nitive structure of arguments. At-tempts to improve inferential prac-tice need to consider psychological error tendencies, which are patterns of thinking that are natural for peo-ple but frequently lead to (...) mistakes in judgment. This article discusses two important but neglected error ten-dencies: motivated inference and fear-driven inference. (shrink)
CRITICALTHINKING AND PEDAGOGICAL LICENSE https://www.academia.edu/9273154/CRITICAL_THINKING_AND_PEDAGOGICAL_LICENSE JOHN CORCORAN.1999. Criticalthinking and pedagogical license. Manuscrito XXII, 109–116. Persian translation by Hassan Masoud. Please post your suggestions for corrections and alternative translations. -/- Criticalthinking involves deliberate application of tests and standards to beliefs per se and to methods used to arrive at beliefs. Pedagogical license is authorization accorded to teachers permitting them to use otherwise illicit means in order to achieve pedagogical goals. Pedagogical license is (...) thus analogous to poetic license or, more generally, to artistic license. Pedagogical license will be found to be pervasive in college teaching. This presentation suggests that criticalthinking courses emphasize two topics: first, the nature and usefulness of criticalthinking; second, the nature and pervasiveness of pedagogical license. Awareness of pedagogical license alerts the student to the need for criticalthinking. (shrink)
This book covers all the material typically addressed in first or second-year college courses in CriticalThinking: Chapter 1: CriticalThinking 1.1 What is criticalthinking? 1.2 What is criticalthinking not? Chapter 2: The Nature of Argument 2.1 Recognizing an Argument 2.2 Circular Arguments 2.3 Counterarguments 2.4 The Burden of Proof 2.5 Facts and Opinions 2.6 Deductive and Inductive Argument Chapter 3: The Structure of Argument 3.1 Convergent, Single 3.2 Convergent, Multiple (...) 3.3 Divergent Chapter 4: Relevance 4.1 Relevance 4.2 Errors of Relevance Chapter 5: Language 5.1 Clarity 5.2 Neutrality 5.3 Definition Chapter 6: Truth and Acceptability 6.1 How do we define truth? 6.2 How do we discover truth? 6.3 How do we evaluate claims of truth? Chapter 7: Generalizations, Analogies, and General Principles 7.1 Sufficiency 7.2 Generalizations 7.3 Analogies 7.4 General Principles Chapter 8: Inductive Argument – Causal Reasoning 8.1 Causation 8.2 Explanations 8.3 Predictions, Plans, and Policies 8.4 Errors in Causal Reasoning (Three additional chapters – categorical logic, propositional logic, thinking critically about ethics – are available on the companion website.) -/- Special Features: -/- - The book takes a practice approach to learning how to think critically, so there are LOTS of exercises (within each chapter, focusing on discrete skills, and at the end of each chapter, focusing on more global skills in a cumulative fashion – thinking critically about what one sees, hears, reads, writes, and discusses). -/- - There is an extensive “Answers, Explanations, and Analyses” section that provides not just ‘the right answer’ but explanations as to why the right answer is right and why wrong answers are wrong; when the exercise is not a matter of providing an answer but of analyzing material, a detailed analysis is provided in this section; this feature is intended to help the student fully understand why some arguments are better than others (and why it’s not ‘just a matter of opinion’!). -/- - The regularly-appearing end-of-chapter “Thinking critically when you discuss” exercise is carefully graduated throughout the text, to gently lead students from sounding like a bad tv talk show to being able to hold an intelligent discussion. -/- - The regularly-appearing end-of-chapter “Thinking critically about what you write” exercise assumes almost no skill at the beginning and leads up to, in the last chapter, writing a 2,000 word position paper. -/- - A critical analysis template (a step-by-step approach to critical analysis) is presented in the first chapter and at the beginning of each subsequent chapter, and specific reference to it is made at the beginning of each end-of-chapter “Thinking critically about what you read” exercise (consisting of ten bits of increasing difficulty); this feature is intended to encourage the development of habitual, thorough analysis of arguments. -/- - Actual questions from standardized reasoning tests like the LSAT, GMAT, MCAT, and GRE are included. -/- - Ancillaries include an instructor’s manual; a test bank; PowerPoint slides; downloadable MP3 study guides; and interactive flash cards. (shrink)
The author describes a published symposium which debated Is CriticalThinking Biased? The symposium meant to address concerns about criticalthinking that are being expressed by feminist and postmodern scholars. However, through the author's critique, and the symposium respondent's, we learn the participants ended up begging the question of bias. The author maintains that the belief that criticalthinking is unbiased is based on an assumption that knowers can be separated from what is known. (...) She argues that criticalthinking is a tool which has no life of its own, it only has meaning and purpose when fallible, biased people use it (weak sense bias). She challenges the idea of a transcendental epistemological perspective, thus all knowledge is provisional and perspectival (strong sense bias). The author begins to redescribe a transformed criticalthinking as constructive thinking. (shrink)
: This paper develops four related claims: 1. Criticalthinking should focus more on decision making, 2. the heuristics and bias literature developed by cognitive psychologists and behavioral economists provides many insights into human irrationality which can be useful in criticalthinking instruction, 3. unfortunately the “rational choice” norms used by behavioral economists to identify “biased” decision making narrowly equate rational decision making with the efficient pursuit of individual satisfaction; deviations from these norms should not be (...) treated as an irrational bias, 4. a richer, procedural theory of rational decision making should be the basis for criticalthinking instruction in decision making. (shrink)
Part one: Acquiring criticalthinking skills -- Out of the fog : the pathway to criticalthinking -- Nuts and bolts : the basics of argument -- Analysis : the heart of criticalthinking -- Handling claims, drawing inferences -- The logic machine : deductive and inductive reasoning -- Part two: Sharpening the tools -- The persuasive power of analogies -- Fallacies, fallacies : steering clear of argumentative quicksand -- Roll the dice : causal (...) and statistical reasoning -- Syllogisms -- Patterns of deductive reasoning: rules of inference -- Part three: Going out into the world -- Out of the silence: the power of language -- Desire and illusion: analyzing advertising -- Web sight : criticalthinking and the internet -- Voices and visions : the media -- Clearing the path : legal reasoning. (shrink)
From 2012 to 2015 I was the first Eugene H. Fram Chair in Applied CriticalThinking at Rochester Institute of Technology, in Rochester, NY. To the best of my knowledge it is the only such endowed position devoted solely to this at a major North American university. It was made possible by a generous 3 million dollar gift from an anonymous alumnus who wished to honor a retired faculty member who had taught for 51 years. The honoree was (...) revered for his devotion to Bloom’s taxonomy and his academic rigor, which infused case studies and the Socratic method. A primary motivation for the chair was a belief that an alarming number of college graduates lack the necessary criticalthinking skills in order to advance successfully in their careers. My responsibilities included collaborative leadership, advocacy and oversight for criticalthinking across the entire campus. It provided a unique opportunity to reflect on the current state of criticalthinking instruction–very broadly construed, as well as to examine its specific role at RIT, an institution with its own unique history, mission, and character. (shrink)
This clear, learner-friendly text helps today's students bridge the gap between everyday culture and criticalthinking. The text covers all the basics of criticalthinking, beginning where students are, not where we think they should be. Its comprehensiveness allows instructors to tailor the material to their individual teaching styles, resulting in an exceptionally versatile text.
The problem of defining ‘criticalthinking’ needs a fresh approach. When one takes into consideration the sheer quantity of definitions and their obvious differences, an onlooker might be tempted to conclude that there is no inherent meaning to the term: that each author seems to consider that he or she is free to offer a definition that suits them. And, with a few exceptions, there has not been much discussion among proposers about the strength and weaknesses of the (...) attempted definitions. Therefore, the approach we will argue for here is a ‘meta-level approach’: proposers of new definitions of ‘criticalthinking’ should begin by arguing that none of the current crop of definitions is viable. They should then state what kind of definition they will offer; then provide the definition and show that it satisfies the criteria stated. Our position is that new definitions should follow this meta-level approach, in addition to avoiding some common pitfalls. (shrink)
This essay offers a comprehensive vision for a higher education program incorporating criticalthinking across the curriculum at hypothetical Alpha College, employing a rigorous detailed conception of criticalthinking called “The Alpha Conception of CriticalThinking”. The program starts with a 1-year, required, freshman course, two-thirds of which focuses on a set of general criticalthinking dispositions and abilities. The final third uses subject-matter issues to reinforce general criticalthinking dispositions (...) and abilities, teach samples of subject matter, and introduce subject-specific criticalthinking. Subject-matter departmental and other units will make long-range plans for incorporating criticalthinking in varying amounts in subject-matter courses, culminating in a written Senior Thesis/Project involving investigating, taking, and defending a position, which reinforce criticalthinking abilities and dispositions and increase subject-matter knowledge. Teaching approaches used in the program are involving and based on the principle, “We learn what we use.” Both summative and formative assessment are employed as appropriate. Coordination and support are extensive. Objections and concerns are discussed, and alternatives, including possible transitions, are considered. An extended review of research supports moving toward CTAC. (shrink)
The dual-process model of cognition but most especially its reflective component, system 2 processing, shows strong conceptual links with criticalthinking. In fact, the salient characteristics of system 2 processing are so strikingly close to that of criticalthinking, that it is tempting to claim that criticalthinking is system 2 processing, no more and no less. In this article, I consider the two sides of that claim: Does criticalthinking always require (...) system 2 processing? And does system 2 processing always result in criticalthinking? I argue that it is plausible and helpful to consider that criticalthinking requires system 2 processing. In particular, this assumption can provide interesting insights and benchmarks for criticalthinking education. On the other hand, I show that system 2 processing can result in a range of outcomes which are either contradictory with criticalthinking, or of debatable social desirability—which suggests that there is more to criticalthinking than mere system 2 processing, and more to system 2 processing than just criticalthinking. (shrink)
This paper introduces some of the debates in the field of criticalthinking by highlighting differences among thinkers such as Siegel, Ennis, Paul, McPeck, and Martin, and poses some questions that arise from these debates. Does rationality transcend particular cultures, or are there different kinds of thinking, different styles of reasoning? What is the relationship between criticalthinking and learning? In what ways does the moral domain overlap with these largely epistemic and pedagogical issues? The (...) paper concludes by showing how Peters, Evers, Chan and Yan, Ryan and Louie, Luntley, Lam, Doddington, and Kwak, respond to these questions. (shrink)
Most current conceptions of criticalthinking conceive of criticalthinking in terms of abilities and dispositions. In this paper I describe a common type of problem students experience with criticalthinking and argue that conceptualizations in terms of abilities and dispositions do not provide a way to understand this problem. I argue, further, that a useful way to think about the problem is in terms of epistemological understanding, and that this way of thinking (...) about the issue can provide both pedagogical and conceptual grounding to efforts to foster criticalthinking. (shrink)
Designed to immediately engage students and other readers in philosophical reflection, the new edition of Ethical Argument: CriticalThinking in Ethics bridges the gap between ethical theory and practice. This brief introduction combines a discussion of ethical theory with fundamental elements of criticalthinking--including informal fallacies and the basics of logic--and uses case studies and practical applications to illustrate concepts. Author Hugh Mercer Curtler presents a carefully formulated critique of ethical relativism, encouraging students to reason along (...) with him and to question his argument at every point. This approach enables students to think systematically about ethical issues and to acquire basic skills in argumentation at the same time. They will learn how to bring principles to bear on ethical conflict, how to weigh pros and cons, how to recognize good ethical reasons, and how to distinguish sound argumentation from rationalization. The second edition of Ethical Argument: CriticalThinking in Ethics includes new exercises and examples, summary boxes, cartoons, and sample dialogues that demonstrate how to effectively debate ethical positions. It features more than forty case studies on ethical issues that are interesting and relevant to students. An ideal core text for courses in introductory ethics, this concise volume can be used along with additional primary sources, case studies, or newspaper articles and novels. It is also a helpful supplementary text for courses in applied ethics--including professional, business, and medical ethics--and in criticalthinking. (shrink)
Cognitive bias presents as a pressing challenge to criticalthinking education. While many have focused on how to eliminate or mitigate cognitive bias, others have argued that these biases are better understood as result from adaptive reasoning heuristics which are, in the right conditions, rational modes of reasoning about the world. This approach presents a new challenge to criticalthinking education: if these heuristics are rational under the right conditions, does teaching criticalthinking undermine (...) student abilities to reason effectively in real life reasoning scenarios? I argue that this challenge calls for a reconception of the goals of criticalthinking education to focus on how rational ideals are best achieved or approximated in human reasoners. Criticalthinking educators should focus on developing the metacognitive skill to recognize when different cognitive strategies should be used. (shrink)
After critiquing the arguments against using formal logic to teach criticalthinking, this paper argues that for theoretical, practical, and empirical reasons, instruction in the fundamentals of formal logic is essential for criticalthinking, and so should be included in every class that purports to teach criticalthinking.
Connie Missimer (1990) challenges what she calls the Character View, according to which criticalthinking involves both skill and character, and argues for a rival conception-the Skill View-according to which criticalthinking is a matter of skill alone. In this paper I criticize the Skill View and defend the Character View from Missimer's critical arguments.
In this article I argue that most biases in argumentation and decision-making can and should be counteracted. Although biases can prove beneficial in certain contexts, I contend that they are generally maladaptive and need correction. Yet criticalthinking alone seems insufficient to mitigate biases in everyday contexts. I develop a contextualist approach, according to which cognitive debiasing strategies need to be supplemented by extra-psychic devices that rely on social and environmental constraints in order to promote rational reasoning. Finally, (...) I examine several examples of contextual debiasing strategies and show how they can contribute to enhance criticalthinking at a cognitive level. (shrink)
We note the development of the widely employed but loosely defined construct of criticalthinking from its earliest instantiations as a measure of individual ability to its current status, marked by efforts to better connect the construct to the socially-situated thinking demands of real life. Inquiry and argument are identified as key dimensions in a process-based account of criticalthinking. Argument is identified as a social practice, rather than a strictly individual competency. Yet, new empirical (...) evidence is presented documenting a role for individual reasoning competencies in supporting the effectiveness of argumentive discourse. A successful curriculum is described for employing extended engagement in dialogic argumentation as a pathway to development of individual argumentive skill. (shrink)