Memorize the components of critical thinking. Use them to explore ideas in this course. Extend critical thinking into areas of your daily life, especially decision making. Raise questions about critical thinking. Test whether
critical thinking enhances the clarity and meaning of your living. Test your alternatives to critical thinking.
Critical thinking does not mean negative and faultfinding. It means characterized by careful analysis; forming a crisis, decisive, dangerous, causing anxiety.
The components of Critical Thinking [abbreviations for text-marking]
Identify a basic Issue:
What kind of procedure should I use to figure out how to make life decisions?
Consider alternative points of view:
In addition to "Do critical thinking" as an answer to this issue there are competitors like "Follow authority" and "Follow my passions."
I am free to make a choice between these three alternatives.
Draw a conclusion based on an argument:
I would follow authority if these three conditions were true: Authorities were wise, in agreement, and were knowledgeable about me as an individual. From experience I have learned that authorities are sometimes not wise, not in agreement with each other, and do not know much in particular about me. So, if I am to "Follow authority" as a life-strategy, I need to figure out what authority to follow and why. For this I need some critical thinking. A similar argument can be constructed for the need to do critical thinking about the option "Follow my passions."
Thus, it looks like critical thinking is a necessary life strategy.
The previous argument is a "weak alternatives argument." It looks at weaknesses of the options to critical thinking, not any of their strengths, and does not consider any weakness of critical thinking.
Draw a warranted conclusion:
A fuller examination of critical thinking is necessary before a justified conclusion can be made.
Quick reasons against doing critical thinking:
Dangers in doing critical thinking: (need to be considered. It can lead to unpleasant results like):
Reflective reasons in favor of doing critical thinking:
It can have the opposite effect for each of the previously listed unpleasant results. Doing critical thinking can lessen confusion, doubt, and uncertainty; lead to a new or strengthen significant belief; and lead to less conflict with authority and one's own passions. In addition there are these benefits of doing critical thinking:
As I do critical thinking I am more aware of how much of my thinking is subconscious, automatic, irrational and self-serving. I am also more aware of many substitutes for critical thinking. It is too easy to believe the following provide me with a justification for my beliefs and values:
There is a structural similarity between critical thinking about ideas and making decisions. These critical-thinking components are readily modified to apply to decision-making. In abbreviated notation: /vp ->options, R+, R- ->positive and negative consequences for an option; v+, v- ->basic values for making the decision; c -> warranted decision. To make a good decision about doing more critical thinking I need to explore and examine my ideas about myself and life and my basic values. This involves more critical thinking. So, I will decide to do more critical thinking, with honesty, courage and mindfulness, about this decision and anything that matters.
Virtues that support critical thinking:
Thinking vices: (not an exhaustive list)
To put into practice a commitment to do more critical thinking make tactical commitment to ask yourself and others proto-philosophical, dialogue-questions about anything that matters, call it X (e.g. love, honesty, success):
Criteria for assess critical thinking:
Bi : clarity-scope-complexity
= : precision (of definitions, examples, distinctions)
a : truth-support and reasonableness
/vp : appropriateness ( avoid straw man argument)
R+/R- : completeness, compellingness, fairness; criteria explicit
c : completeness, coherence, illuminating connections
a : reciprocal and reflexive evaluations
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