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Social Sciences and Humanities
SSH 105
David Hunter

CRITICAL THINKING REVIEWRobert Ennis one of the leading researchers on critical thinking Critical Thinking is reasonable reflective thinking that is aimed at deciding what to believe or what to do Why is it reasonable In that it demands that we have reasons and preferably good ones for the decisions we do Why is it Reflective Its reflective in the sense that it involves thinking about a problem at several different levels or from several different angles all at once including thinking about what the right method is for answering or solving the problem Why is it valuable 2 Main reasons thinking critically increase our chances of gaining knowledge and knowledge is valuable Second Thinking critically is essential to making up ones own mind about what to believe or do which is essential to being autonomous and being autonomous is valuable Autonomous Being able to Determine Oneself to decide on ones own what to believe or do what sort of life to lead This does not mean rejecting tradition It means deciding for oneself on the basis of reasons whether to accept tradition Open Ended a problem is open ended when it is not clear from the outset what would count as a solution to itArgument is a series of statements some of which the premises are meant to provide logical support for another the conclusion Or in other words The conclusion is what the speaker wants you to accept or believe Critical Thinking is really aimed at Knowledge and it can help us attain it Knowledge is justified true belief Truth a statement is true just in case it corresponds with the facts Not a good definition since it cannot be easily defined there would be three different attitude of the word truth Realism Relativism NihilismRealism A realist about some subject matter is one who thinks that there are truths in that area and that what those truths are is independent of what anybody thinks they are Relativism a relativist about some subject matter holds that i there are truths about that area but ii that what they are depends in some way or other on what weor someone take those truths to be Subjective relativist one who thinks that the facts in that area are whatever any one individual takes them to be Someone might say it might be true for you but not for meSocial Relativist Holds that the facts in that area are whatever the majority or some weighted majority of the society or culture takes them to be Some one might say it is true for us even if it is not true for you or for them Nihilism a nihilist about some subject matter holds that there are no truths at all about that subject matter On the nihilist point of view no facts to be right or wrong about since there are no facts at all Premise A proposition that forms the basis of an argument or from which as conclusion is drawn They state the reasons or evidence for accepting the conclusion Relativism and the argument from disagreement it is sometimes thought that if there is a lot of disagreement in some subject matter than relativism is the appropriate attitude to take to THIS REASONING IS VERY BAD SINCE Realism can be the right attitude even when there is lots of disagreement The argument from disagreement has an important logical property It is valid which means it is not possible for those premises to be true and yet for the conclusion be false It is best to assume that realism is the proper attitude to take towards some subject matter unless we have really good reason to think otherwise We will all assume that truth is independent of our beliefs Knowledge the traditional philosophical analysis of knowledge says that knowledge requires justified true belief Justification means that the belief is based on the right kind of evidence Emotional Believing something because it makes us feel good or comfortable or helps us to fit in with others Pragmatic Believing something because it is useful and is easier to get along with because questioning it would be too difficult Epistemic Believing something because we have evidence that it is true Critical thinking requires that we have good epistemic reason for our beliefs Good epistemic Reasons would be SufficientAcceptable Sufficient To be justified beliefs have to be based on enough of the right kind of evidence Acceptable Reasons to believe something are acceptable when they are from a reliable or good source
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