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Enhance Critical Thinking Skills through Daily Engagement with Puzzles
In today’s fast-paced world, where information is readily available at our fingertips, it’s crucial to develop and enhance critical thinking skills. One effective way to achieve this is by engaging in daily puzzles. Whether it’s a crossword, Sudoku, or a brain teaser, puzzles of the day can provide a fun and challenging exercise for your mind. In this article, we will explore the benefits of daily puzzle engagement and how it can sharpen your critical thinking skills.
Mental Stimulation and Problem-Solving Abilities
Engaging in puzzles on a regular basis provides mental stimulation that keeps your brain active and alert. When you tackle puzzles of the day, you are presented with various problems that require logical reasoning and problem-solving abilities. These challenges push you to think creatively and find innovative solutions.
By consistently engaging in puzzle solving, you train your brain to approach problems from different angles, improving your ability to think critically. This skillset extends beyond puzzle-solving scenarios and becomes applicable in various real-life situations such as decision-making processes or analyzing complex issues.
Memory Retention and Cognitive Function
Puzzles not only stimulate critical thinking but also help improve memory retention and cognitive function. When solving puzzles of the day, you are required to remember patterns, rules, or clues provided within the puzzle itself.
This constant exercise of memory retrieval strengthens neural connections in the brain responsible for storing information. As a result, you will notice an improvement in your ability to recall information quickly and accurately.
Moreover, engaging in regular puzzle-solving activities has been linked to enhanced cognitive function. It has been shown that individuals who regularly engage in puzzles perform better on tasks related to memory, processing speed, and attention span compared to those who do not engage in such activities.
Increased Concentration and Focus
In today’s digital age where distractions are abundant, maintaining concentration and focus has become a challenge for many. Engaging in puzzles of the day can help combat this problem.
When solving a puzzle, you need to concentrate on the task at hand, blocking out any distractions. This focused attention allows you to delve deep into the problem and analyze it thoroughly. Over time, regular engagement with puzzles improves your ability to concentrate for longer periods and enhances your overall focus.
Stress Reduction and Mental Well-being
Puzzles provide a wonderful escape from the daily stressors of life. When you immerse yourself in solving puzzles, you enter a state of flow where time seems to fly by, and your mind is fully engaged in the task.
This state of flow promotes relaxation and reduces stress levels. As you solve each piece of the puzzle, you experience a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, boosting your mood and mental well-being.
Additionally, engaging in puzzles can serve as a form of meditation or mindfulness practice. It allows you to disconnect from technology and be present in the moment, focusing solely on the task at hand.
In conclusion, incorporating daily puzzles into your routine can have numerous benefits for enhancing critical thinking skills. From mental stimulation to improved memory retention, increased concentration to stress reduction – puzzles provide a holistic approach to sharpening your cognitive abilities while having fun along the way. So why not make “puzzle of the day” part of your daily routine? Start challenging yourself today.
This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.
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The Critical Nature of Critical Thinking
By: linda henman.
Authors have filled the shelves with books about leadership personality, charisma, and emotional intelligence. Arguably, leadership is a complicated and somewhat abstract concept. Therefore, before making a hiring or promotion decision , successful companies consider a candidate’s education, experience, behavior during the interview, references, and personal impressions. But too often, they overlook the critical factor that separates those who can succeed at the top of organizations from those who cannot: advanced critical thinking skills.
What Is Critical Thinking?
Definitions of critical thinking vary, but in nearly every instance, the explanation addresses gathering information, evaluating it, and accurately drawing assumptions about it. For the purpose of this discussion, I offer this:
Critical thinking is a disciplined process for conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information gathered from observation, experience, and reasoning. It is based on clarity, accuracy, consistency, relevance, depth, breadth, and fairness.
Critical thinking philosophy traces its roots back thousands of years to Buddhism and the Greek Socratic tradition that involved asking probing questions to determine whether claims to knowledge could be rationally justified with logical consistency. When people do well in critical thinking, they clarify goals, examine assumptions, evaluate evidence, and assess conclusions. When they don’t, they squander their time and that of others on inconsequential activities.
When making difficult decisions, an individual or group engaged in strong critical thinking gives due consideration to careful observation and the relevance of arguments. Click To Tweet These skills allow these people to venture into the realm of the unknown. They may not understand the specific details of the new situations, but because they can weigh information and analyze it effectively, they excel in uncharted seas. These people also typically show a willingness to tackle problems and decisions that demand their skill set.
Critical Thinking in Business
Advanced critical thinking skills is the voice; willingness to put this ability into action is the echo. The two must work in tandem. Sometimes, but not often, I assess a candidate for hire or promotion who demonstrates well-honed skills for analytical reasoning, but not the track record or motivation to act on this talent. Why? The simple answer is logic makes us think, but emotion makes us act.
People who have the ability to think logically, but behave emotionally show no more promise than those who don’t have the ability to start with. Dispassion and an ability to function in the arena of the abstract stand at the core of advanced critical thinking. People who can maintain this kind of global perspective can engage in long-range strategic planning, simultaneously process information from a variety of sources, and multi-task. In addition to excelling at troubleshooting themselves, they can serve as strong sounding boards to others who struggle with complex or unfamiliar problems. Further, they possess a kind of internal crystal ball—a knack for seeing into the future to anticipate consequences and plan for contingencies.
Others often notice the results of advanced critical thinking without realizing that’s what they’re doing. Strong critical thinkers are often the most productive people in the organization because they zero in on the critical few while putting aside the trivial many. In other words, they prioritize and address important issues before using their time and resources on activities that don’t matter. They don’t work more hours than other people. On the contrary, often they work fewer, but they work smarter. They get to the core of complicated issues, and then use dispassionate scrutiny to solve problems and make decisions.
Sometimes, the absence of critical thinking skills becomes obvious in a leader’s ultimate downfall. Underdeveloped critical thinking skills may help to explain the demise of Carly Fiorina, the ousted CEO of Hewlett-Packard. Fiorina, whom Fortune named the most powerful woman in business in 1998, lost her job at Hewlett-Packard just six years later. The company’s controversial deal to buy Compaq in the spring of 2002—after a bruising proxy fight led by one of the Hewlett family heirs—did not produce the shareholder returns or profits she had promised.
Fiorina either failed to anticipate the implications of and obstacles to her decision to buy Compaq, or she simply didn’t pursue feedback that may have revealed errors in her judgment or resistance to her plan. Had she explored multiple perspectives, particularly those of the Hewlett family, she may have been able to identify probable consequences and to avert the temporary plummet in HP stock, widespread job losses, and her own downfall. Both HP and Fiorina paid for her weak leadership intelligence.
Nature or nurture? Experts continue to disagree about the origins of intelligence, but this much seems clear. By the time someone applies for a position at your company—whether for employment or promotion—he or she has demonstrated the level of critical thinking skills you can expect. They don’t tend to change. Those who have well-developed skills will have a track record of success in school or work. They will have evidence of success because, throughout their lives, they have sensed what will help or hinder the accomplishment of their goals. Their credit scores will be good, and you’ll find in the interview, they can think on their feet. When asked to explain both sides of a controversial or touchy subject, they will be able to offer convincing arguments on both sides, even the one with which they disagree.
After conducting thousands of pre-employment and succession planning screenings for hundreds of different clients, I can say unequivocally that critical thinking is the most important but the least understood criterion decision makers should consider. In the upper echelons of the organization, I have found it to be the single most significant success factor. Not everyone in your organization needs to possess stellar critical thinking skills, but the ones that will run it must.
Dr. Linda Henman helps CEOs and Boards of Directors set strategies, mergers and acquisitions, plan succession, and develop talent. She can be reached at [email protected] or 636-537-3774.
Helping organizations and individuals achieve a more powerful success mindset.
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Defining Critical Thinking
- A Brief History of the Idea of Critical Thinking
- Critical Thinking: Basic Questions & Answers
- Our Conception of Critical Thinking
- Sumner’s Definition of Critical Thinking
- Research in Critical Thinking
- Critical Societies: Thoughts from the Past
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Critical Thinking :Definition and Nature
Posted on June 22, 2022 June 28, 2022 Author Dr. Balaji Niwlikar Leave a comment
- 1.1 A. Observing The Problem: Critical Thinking.
- 1.2 B. Describing The Problem
- 1.3 C. Framing The Problem.
- 2 Critical Interpretation in Critical thinking.
- 3 Reference,
Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. It is a form of directed, problem-focused thinking. In which the individual tests ideas or possible solutions for errors or drawbacks.
Critical thinking defined in various ways by philosophers and thinkers across time. It will be useful to think of three essential features of critical thinking.
Firstly, critical thinking involves thinking about the ‘why’ question, or the set of assumptions and biases that influence any thought or action. Why does a consumer want to buy a specific product from the market?
Secondly, critical thinking means one looks at the available evidence and evaluates it. It is not possible to find an answer to a question just on the basis of the opinions of one’s friends and family. That may be quite misleading. Instead, it is important to consider all possible evidence. For example, data gathered through primary research, information available in existing research, perspectives of different experts and stakeholders.
Thirdly, critical thinking involves interpretation and analysis of different problems and issues one comes across in everyday life. These issues range from interpersonal conflicts to policy problems.
A. Observing The Problem: Critical Thinking.
You have to observe the behavioral and working patterns of your colleague’s right from the beginning, and offer them reminders and encouragement to work.
Second, you have to observe why they are not able to do their work properly. Is it because of family issues or issues with their work ethic or something else? Are they not able to do the work because of lack of training or confidence? Based on the observation of the problem, different kinds of support may have to be given to them. Alternately, the work may have to be structured more tightly, so that all three members talk regularly and are accountable to each other.
In other words, observation helps you finetune your understanding of the problem and learn what factors create and sustain the problem.
B . Describing The Problem
Observation is usually followed by description, where you begin to detail the different components of the problem. Through description, you can unpack the different layers of a problem, identify and articulate the finer details of what you observe and sense.
To describe the problem, you’ll first have to articulate what you observe. For example, what do students exactly do in the classroom? Are they taking notes, looking at their textbooks, making any eye contact with you? Are they sitting towards the back or the front of the classroom, do they regularly attend classes or are some of them irregular?
C. Framing The Problem.
After having observed and described the problem, we are left with many details. But sometimes there is too much detail to work with, especially if we do not organize and categorize it.
Once you have framed and organized the reasons within particular categories, it will be easier to work on solutions. You have to rethink the content being taught or how it is presented; work on creating a safe, comfortable space for students to express themselves; address the language needs of students via speaking, writing, and listening exercises.
In other words, framing the problem, based on your observation and description, helps you respond to the problem in more practical and meaningful ways.
Critical Interpretation in Critical thinking.
Interpretation, in simple terms, refers to making sense of anything you observe and experience. As you read a book, you interpret its meaning or what it is trying to say. As you watch a film, you interpret various things such as the presentation of characters. Interpretation is unavoidable. Whether you are talking to someone or doing a specialized task in a project, you will have to interpret what is going on in order to respond, interact, and act.
For our purposes, however, we will distinguish between functional and critical interpretation. Function interpretation refers to a surface-level understanding of what you observe. Critical interpretation goes a step (or many steps) further, reflecting on the observation or experience in more detail.
For example, imagine you are listening to a song that you really enjoy. A functional interpretation would be the following: This song is fun because it has nice beats and an enjoyable melody.
On the other hand, a critical interpretation would sound something like: This song played at a high tempo, and the groove produced by the use of the tabla along with the bongo. The beat creatively fuses Hindustani classical rhythms with Latin rhythms. The melody is soothing yet passionate; it first establishes a central melody and then improvises itself to provide a sense of expansion and movement.
- Anderson, J. R. (2015). Cognitive psychology and its implications. New York: Worth Publishers
- Galloti, K. M. (2004). Cognitive psychology in and out of the laboratory. USA: Thomson Wadsworth.
- Matlin, M. (1994). Cognition. Bangalore: Harcourt Brace Pub.
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- What is Critical Thinking?
The ability to think critically calls for a higher-order thinking than simply the ability to recall information.
Definitions of critical thinking, its elements, and its associated activities fill the educational literature of the past forty years. Critical thinking has been described as an ability to question; to acknowledge and test previously held assumptions; to recognize ambiguity; to examine, interpret, evaluate, reason, and reflect; to make informed judgments and decisions; and to clarify, articulate, and justify positions (Hullfish & Smith, 1961; Ennis, 1962; Ruggiero, 1975; Scriven, 1976; Hallet, 1984; Kitchener, 1986; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991; Mines et al., 1990; Halpern, 1996; Paul & Elder, 2001; Petress, 2004; Holyoak & Morrison, 2005; among others).
After a careful review of the mountainous body of literature defining critical thinking and its elements, UofL has chosen to adopt the language of Michael Scriven and Richard Paul (2003) as a comprehensive, concise operating definition:
Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.
Paul and Scriven go on to suggest that critical thinking is based on: "universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness. It entails the examination of those structures or elements of thought implicit in all reasoning: purpose, problem, or question-at-issue, assumptions, concepts, empirical grounding; reasoning leading to conclusions, implication and consequences, objections from alternative viewpoints, and frame of reference. Critical thinking - in being responsive to variable subject matter, issues, and purposes - is incorporated in a family of interwoven modes of thinking, among them: scientific thinking, mathematical thinking, historical thinking, anthropological thinking, economic thinking, moral thinking, and philosophical thinking."
This conceptualization of critical thinking has been refined and developed further by Richard Paul and Linder Elder into the Paul-Elder framework of critical thinking. Currently, this approach is one of the most widely published and cited frameworks in the critical thinking literature. According to the Paul-Elder framework, critical thinking is the:
- Analysis of thinking by focusing on the parts or structures of thinking ("the Elements of Thought")
- Evaluation of thinking by focusing on the quality ("the Universal Intellectual Standards")
- Improvement of thinking by using what you have learned ("the Intellectual Traits")
Selection of a Critical Thinking Framework
The University of Louisville chose the Paul-Elder model of Critical Thinking as the approach to guide our efforts in developing and enhancing our critical thinking curriculum. The Paul-Elder framework was selected based on criteria adapted from the characteristics of a good model of critical thinking developed at Surry Community College. The Paul-Elder critical thinking framework is comprehensive, uses discipline-neutral terminology, is applicable to all disciplines, defines specific cognitive skills including metacognition, and offers high quality resources.
Why the selection of a single critical thinking framework?
The use of a single critical thinking framework is an important aspect of institution-wide critical thinking initiatives (Paul and Nosich, 1993; Paul, 2004). According to this view, critical thinking instruction should not be relegated to one or two disciplines or departments with discipline specific language and conceptualizations. Rather, critical thinking instruction should be explicitly infused in all courses so that critical thinking skills can be developed and reinforced in student learning across the curriculum. The use of a common approach with a common language allows for a central organizer and for the development of critical thinking skill sets in all courses.
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1 Introduction to Critical Thinking
I. what is c ritical t hinking .
Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally about what to do or what to believe. It includes the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking. Someone with critical thinking skills is able to do the following:
- Understand the logical connections between ideas.
- Identify, construct, and evaluate arguments.
- Detect inconsistencies and common mistakes in reasoning.
- Solve problems systematically.
- Identify the relevance and importance of ideas.
- Reflect on the justification of one’s own beliefs and values.
Critical thinking is not simply a matter of accumulating information. A person with a good memory and who knows a lot of facts is not necessarily good at critical thinking. Critical thinkers are able to deduce consequences from what they know, make use of information to solve problems, and to seek relevant sources of information to inform themselves.
Critical thinking should not be confused with being argumentative or being critical of other people. Although critical thinking skills can be used in exposing fallacies and bad reasoning, critical thinking can also play an important role in cooperative reasoning and constructive tasks. Critical thinking can help us acquire knowledge, improve our theories, and strengthen arguments. We can also use critical thinking to enhance work processes and improve social institutions.
Some people believe that critical thinking hinders creativity because critical thinking requires following the rules of logic and rationality, whereas creativity might require breaking those rules. This is a misconception. Critical thinking is quite compatible with thinking “out-of-the-box,” challenging consensus views, and pursuing less popular approaches. If anything, critical thinking is an essential part of creativity because we need critical thinking to evaluate and improve our creative ideas.
II. The I mportance of C ritical T hinking
Critical thinking is a domain-general thinking skill. The ability to think clearly and rationally is important whatever we choose to do. If you work in education, research, finance, management or the legal profession, then critical thinking is obviously important. But critical thinking skills are not restricted to a particular subject area. Being able to think well and solve problems systematically is an asset for any career.
Critical thinking is very important in the new knowledge economy. The global knowledge economy is driven by information and technology. One has to be able to deal with changes quickly and effectively. The new economy places increasing demands on flexible intellectual skills, and the ability to analyze information and integrate diverse sources of knowledge in solving problems. Good critical thinking promotes such thinking skills, and is very important in the fast-changing workplace.
Critical thinking enhances language and presentation skills. Thinking clearly and systematically can improve the way we express our ideas. In learning how to analyze the logical structure of texts, critical thinking also improves comprehension abilities.
Critical thinking promotes creativity. To come up with a creative solution to a problem involves not just having new ideas. It must also be the case that the new ideas being generated are useful and relevant to the task at hand. Critical thinking plays a crucial role in evaluating new ideas, selecting the best ones and modifying them if necessary.
Critical thinking is crucial for self-reflection. In order to live a meaningful life and to structure our lives accordingly, we need to justify and reflect on our values and decisions. Critical thinking provides the tools for this process of self-evaluation.
Good critical thinking is the foundation of science and democracy. Science requires the critical use of reason in experimentation and theory confirmation. The proper functioning of a liberal democracy requires citizens who can think critically about social issues to inform their judgments about proper governance and to overcome biases and prejudice.
Critical thinking is a metacognitive skill . What this means is that it is a higher-level cognitive skill that involves thinking about thinking. We have to be aware of the good principles of reasoning, and be reflective about our own reasoning. In addition, we often need to make a conscious effort to improve ourselves, avoid biases, and maintain objectivity. This is notoriously hard to do. We are all able to think but to think well often requires a long period of training. The mastery of critical thinking is similar to the mastery of many other skills. There are three important components: theory, practice, and attitude.
III. Improv ing O ur T hinking S kills
If we want to think correctly, we need to follow the correct rules of reasoning. Knowledge of theory includes knowledge of these rules. These are the basic principles of critical thinking, such as the laws of logic, and the methods of scientific reasoning, etc.
Also, it would be useful to know something about what not to do if we want to reason correctly. This means we should have some basic knowledge of the mistakes that people make. First, this requires some knowledge of typical fallacies. Second, psychologists have discovered persistent biases and limitations in human reasoning. An awareness of these empirical findings will alert us to potential problems.
However, merely knowing the principles that distinguish good and bad reasoning is not enough. We might study in the classroom about how to swim, and learn about the basic theory, such as the fact that one should not breathe underwater. But unless we can apply such theoretical knowledge through constant practice, we might not actually be able to swim.
Similarly, to be good at critical thinking skills it is necessary to internalize the theoretical principles so that we can actually apply them in daily life. There are at least two ways to do this. One is to perform lots of quality exercises. These exercises don’t just include practicing in the classroom or receiving tutorials; they also include engaging in discussions and debates with other people in our daily lives, where the principles of critical thinking can be applied. The second method is to think more deeply about the principles that we have acquired. In the human mind, memory and understanding are acquired through making connections between ideas.
Good critical thinking skills require more than just knowledge and practice. Persistent practice can bring about improvements only if one has the right kind of motivation and attitude. The following attitudes are not uncommon, but they are obstacles to critical thinking:
- I prefer being given the correct answers rather than figuring them out myself.
- I don’t like to think a lot about my decisions as I rely only on gut feelings.
- I don’t usually review the mistakes I have made.
- I don’t like to be criticized.
To improve our thinking we have to recognize the importance of reflecting on the reasons for belief and action. We should also be willing to engage in debate, break old habits, and deal with linguistic complexities and abstract concepts.
The California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory is a psychological test that is used to measure whether people are disposed to think critically. It measures the seven different thinking habits listed below, and it is useful to ask ourselves to what extent they describe the way we think:
- Truth-Seeking—Do you try to understand how things really are? Are you interested in finding out the truth?
- Open-Mindedness—How receptive are you to new ideas, even when you do not intuitively agree with them? Do you give new concepts a fair hearing?
- Analyticity—Do you try to understand the reasons behind things? Do you act impulsively or do you evaluate the pros and cons of your decisions?
- Systematicity—Are you systematic in your thinking? Do you break down a complex problem into parts?
- Confidence in Reasoning—Do you always defer to other people? How confident are you in your own judgment? Do you have reasons for your confidence? Do you have a way to evaluate your own thinking?
- Inquisitiveness—Are you curious about unfamiliar topics and resolving complicated problems? Will you chase down an answer until you find it?
- Maturity of Judgment—Do you jump to conclusions? Do you try to see things from different perspectives? Do you take other people’s experiences into account?
Finally, as mentioned earlier, psychologists have discovered over the years that human reasoning can be easily affected by a variety of cognitive biases. For example, people tend to be over-confident of their abilities and focus too much on evidence that supports their pre-existing opinions. We should be alert to these biases in our attitudes towards our own thinking.
IV. Defining Critical Thinking
There are many different definitions of critical thinking. Here we list some of the well-known ones. You might notice that they all emphasize the importance of clarity and rationality. Here we will look at some well-known definitions in chronological order.
1) Many people trace the importance of critical thinking in education to the early twentieth-century American philosopher John Dewey. But Dewey did not make very extensive use of the term “critical thinking.” Instead, in his book How We Think (1910), he argued for the importance of what he called “reflective thinking”:
…[when] the ground or basis for a belief is deliberately sought and its adequacy to support the belief examined. This process is called reflective thought; it alone is truly educative in value…
Active, persistent and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in light of the grounds that support it, and the further conclusions to which it tends, constitutes reflective thought.
There is however one passage from How We Think where Dewey explicitly uses the term “critical thinking”:
The essence of critical thinking is suspended judgment; and the essence of this suspense is inquiry to determine the nature of the problem before proceeding to attempts at its solution. This, more than any other thing, transforms mere inference into tested inference, suggested conclusions into proof.
2) The Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal (1980) is a well-known psychological test of critical thinking ability. The authors of this test define critical thinking as:
…a composite of attitudes, knowledge and skills. This composite includes: (1) attitudes of inquiry that involve an ability to recognize the existence of problems and an acceptance of the general need for evidence in support of what is asserted to be true; (2) knowledge of the nature of valid inferences, abstractions, and generalizations in which the weight or accuracy of different kinds of evidence are logically determined; and (3) skills in employing and applying the above attitudes and knowledge.
3) A very well-known and influential definition of critical thinking comes from philosopher and professor Robert Ennis in his work “A Taxonomy of Critical Thinking Dispositions and Abilities” (1987):
Critical thinking is reasonable reflective thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe or do.
4) The following definition comes from a statement written in 1987 by the philosophers Michael Scriven and Richard Paul for the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking (link), an organization promoting critical thinking in the US:
Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness. It entails the examination of those structures or elements of thought implicit in all reasoning: purpose, problem, or question-at-issue, assumptions, concepts, empirical grounding; reasoning leading to conclusions, implications and consequences, objections from alternative viewpoints, and frame of reference.
The following excerpt from Peter A. Facione’s “Critical Thinking: A Statement of Expert Consensus for Purposes of Educational Assessment and Instruction” (1990) is quoted from a report written for the American Philosophical Association:
We understand critical thinking to be purposeful, self-regulatory judgment which results in interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and inference, as well as explanation of the evidential, conceptual, methodological, criteriological, or contextual considerations upon which that judgment is based. CT is essential as a tool of inquiry. As such, CT is a liberating force in education and a powerful resource in one’s personal and civic life. While not synonymous with good thinking, CT is a pervasive and self-rectifying human phenomenon. The ideal critical thinker is habitually inquisitive, well-informed, trustful of reason, open-minded, flexible, fairminded in evaluation, honest in facing personal biases, prudent in making judgments, willing to reconsider, clear about issues, orderly in complex matters, diligent in seeking relevant information, reasonable in the selection of criteria, focused in inquiry, and persistent in seeking results which are as precise as the subject and the circumstances of inquiry permit. Thus, educating good critical thinkers means working toward this ideal. It combines developing CT skills with nurturing those dispositions which consistently yield useful insights and which are the basis of a rational and democratic society.
V. Two F eatures of C ritical T hinking
A. how not what .
Critical thinking is concerned not with what you believe, but rather how or why you believe it. Most classes, such as those on biology or chemistry, teach you what to believe about a subject matter. In contrast, critical thinking is not particularly interested in what the world is, in fact, like. Rather, critical thinking will teach you how to form beliefs and how to think. It is interested in the type of reasoning you use when you form your beliefs, and concerns itself with whether you have good reasons to believe what you believe. Therefore, this class isn’t a class on the psychology of reasoning, which brings us to the second important feature of critical thinking.
B. Ought N ot Is ( or Normative N ot Descriptive )
There is a difference between normative and descriptive theories. Descriptive theories, such as those provided by physics, provide a picture of how the world factually behaves and operates. In contrast, normative theories, such as those provided by ethics or political philosophy, provide a picture of how the world should be. Rather than ask question such as why something is the way it is, normative theories ask how something should be. In this course, we will be interested in normative theories that govern our thinking and reasoning. Therefore, we will not be interested in how we actually reason, but rather focus on how we ought to reason.
In the introduction to this course we considered a selection task with cards that must be flipped in order to check the validity of a rule. We noted that many people fail to identify all the cards required to check the rule. This is how people do in fact reason (descriptive). We then noted that you must flip over two cards. This is how people ought to reason (normative).
- Section I-IV are taken from http://philosophy.hku.hk/think/ and are in use under the creative commons license. Some modifications have been made to the original content. ↵
Critical Thinking Copyright © 2019 by Brian Kim is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.