George Nico Critical Thinking (Notes)
What is critical thinking?
- It is about evaluating and formulating beliefs (opinions, judgments,
- Critical thinking is not about what causes these beliefs
o Sociology or psychology might study that
- It’s about figuring out which beliefs are worth having
o A belief is worth having provided it’s most likely true
o A belief is most likely true if there are good reasons to accept it.
- “Critical thinking is the systematic evaluation or formulation of beliefs (or
statements) by rational standard.”
o It’s systematic because it involves distinct procedures and
technical methods (not just gut feeling).
o It’s used to evaluate existing beliefs and to formulate new ones.
o It evaluates beliefs in terms of how well they are support by
Why should we think critically?
- Because we really do care about the truth; about getting things right.
o We want our own beliefs to be well supported.
o We want to be able to understand why we don’t hold different
- Because who we are is in large part determined by our actions and
choices, and our actions and choices are, in turn, determined by our
o If you haven’t chosen your beliefs, are they really yours?
o If they’re not yours, then whose are they?
Some Key Terms and Concepts:
- Statement (Claim)
o An assertion that something is or is not the case no matter
whether it is true or not.
o “It is raining”
o A premise is a statement offered in support of a conclusion
o A conclusion is a statement that is held to be supported by a
premise or premises George Nico Critical Thinking (Notes)
o Premise: All whales are mammals.
o Premise: Moby Dick is a whale.
o Conclusion: Moby Dick is a mammal.
o An argument a set of statements one of which (the conclusion) is
taken to be supported by the remaining statements (the premises)
o An argument is a group o