September, 10 2012
Chapter 1: The Nature of Critical Thinking
“Critical thinking is reasonable and reflective thinking aimed at deciding what to believe and
what to do.” – Robert Ennis
It demands that we have reasons for our beliefs and decisions.
It involves distinctive methods and procedures.
It requires thinking what the appropriate methods are to use in certain situations.
Requires regular judgement
Critical thinking (CT) helps us attain knowledge (which is Justified, true, belief)
Justification: means that the belief is based on enough of the right kind of evidence
Belief: An attitude about how things are what the facts are.
(These three elements of knowledge are independent of one another.)
“People can believe the world is a certain way, and have evidence for it however they could be
wrong.” (Someone believes that the earth is flat, and justifies it by saying he can see across the park
with no noticeable curvature however he is wrong.) LUCKY
“People can have a belief of the way the world is and be correct however they don’t have
enough evidence or justification.” (Someone choses a random number for a lottery, the number is the
number picked however he had no evidence that it would be.) UNLUCKY
“People can have evidence which is true however hey themselves can’t believe it” (Girl has
evidence that her boyfriend is cheating and it’s true however she can’t believe it) DENIAL
To achieve true knowledge you need all three elements.
With CT our beliefs are justified and since justified beliefs are more likely to be true, it can help
us gain knowledge.
What is Truth?
Three attitudes one might have to claims in some subject matter:
Realism: There are truths in that subject and are independent of anyone’s personal beliefs. (Math,
Chemistry) September, 10 2012
Relativism: There are truths in that subject but what they are depends on what we believe them to be.
(We manipulate our beliefs a certain way so they’re true.) (Ex. Which movie is best, what sport is best)
Nihilism: There are no truths in that subject. (Ex. Mythical creatures)
Relativism and the Argument from Disa