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The power of critical thinking - ch1 & 2.docx

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York University
Modes Of Reasoning
MODR 1770
Glen Hoffmann

Twinkle Kavi September 20, 2011 The Power of Critical Thinking – Lecture 1  A question about the quality of your beliefs – is the fundamental concern of critical thinking  Critical thinking is not about what you think, but how you think  Critical thinking focuses not on what causes a belief, but on whether it is worth believing. A belief is worth believing, or accepting, if we have good reasons to accept it.  Critical thinking offers us a set of standers embodied in techniques, attitudes, and principles that we can use to asses beliefs and determine if they are supported by good reasons CRITICAL THINKING: the systematic evaluation or formulation of beliefs, or statements, by rational standards  Is systematic because it involves distinct procedures and methods.  Entails evaluation and formulation because it’s used both to asses existing believes (yours or someone else’s) and to devise new ones  Operates according to rational standards in that beliefs are judged by how well they are supported by reasons  We tend to judge facts differently depending on just how they are stated, or ‘framed’  Critical thinking also involves logic  Logic is the study of good reasoning, or inference, and the rules that govern it  Ultimately, what critical thinking leads you to is knowledge, understanding, and – if you put these to work – empowerment Why It Matters  A consequence of going with the wind is a loss of personal freedom.  If you passively accept beliefs that have been handed to you by your parents, your culture, or your teacher, then those beliefs are not really yours  If they are not really yours and you let them guide your choices and actions, then they – not you – are in charge of your life  The “critical” in critical thinking is used in the sense of ‘exercising or involving careful judgment or judicious evaluation’  Critical thinking is about determining what we are justified in believing, and that involves an openness to other points of view, a tolerance for opposing perspectives, a focus on the issue at hand, and fail assessments of argument and evidence.  Critical thinking can also help us clarify our feelings and deal with them more effectively , our emotions often need the guidance of reason  On a very important sense, critical thinking is thinking outside the box Twinkle Kavi How It Works  A statement is an assertion that something is or is not the case, so statements, or claims, are the kind of things that are either true or false  When you’re engaged in critical thinking, you’re mostly either evaluating statements or formulation them Reasons and Arguments  Reasons provide support for a statement, they provide us with grounds for believing that a statement is true  Reasons are themselves expressed as statements  Statement(claim): An assertion that something is or is not the case  Premise: A statement given in support of another statement  Conclusion: A statement that premises are used to support  Argument: A group of statements in which some of them (the premises) are intended to support another of them (the conclusion)  Explanation: A statement or statements asserting why or how something is the case  Indicator words: Words that frequently accompany arguments and signal that a premise or conclusion is present Twinkle Kavi September 26, 2011 The ‘ Environment’ of Critical Thinking – Lecture 2  Critical thinking does not happen in a vacuum but in an ‘environment’ that is often hostile to it  We should expect then that thinking critically will often be difficult and even unpleasant, and indeed it is  (1) There are ways to detect errors in our thinking  (2) restrain the attitudes and feelings that can distort our reasoning  (3) and, achieve a level of objectivity that makes critical thinking possible  Doing all this – and doing it constantly – requires awareness, practice, and motivation  We can sort the most common impediments to critical thinking into 2 main categories:  (1) those hindrances that arise because of how we think  (2) and those that occur because of what we think The Almighty Self  The consequences of self-centered thinking can be self-destructive  When examining a claim or making a choice, you can overcome he excessive influence of your needs, sometimes with great effort, and sometimes the task is easier and especially if your remember these 3 guidelines: o Watch out when things get very personal – and you become emotionally invested in an issue  You may be deeply committed to a particular view or belief, or you may desperately want a particular claim to be false or unjustified, or you may
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