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SSH 105 (72)
Chapter 1

SSH 105 Chapter 1 Notes

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Social Sciences and Humanities
SSH 105
David Hunter

Chapter 1 – Nature and Value of Critical  Thinking Critical thinking is reasonable and reflective thinking aimed at deciding in what to believe and what to do • Critical thinking is reasonable because o It demands that we have reasons for our beliefs and decisions o It involves distinctive procedures and methods (not just gut feelings)(handy tricks for figuring out when we have good/bad reasons) • It is reflective because o It requires thinking about what methods are appropriate o Using these methods requires regular judgement • Critical thinking can help us to attain knowledge • Knowledge is justified, true belief. o Truth - discussed later (correct) o Justification: this means that the belief is based on enough of the right kind of evidence o Belief: an attitude about how things are, what the facts are • These three elements of knowledge are independent of each other (you can have 2 of them without the third) o Justified (they have evidence), belief (they think they know how the world is); FALSE (the world is not this way). NOT KNOWLEDGE  Jones believes the world is flat, it is justified because it looks flat and has been investigated, but this is false because the world is a sphere.  This is UNLUCKY o Belief (they think the world/facts are a certain way), truth (the facts are right), UNJUSTIFIED (not enough of the right kind of evidence)(Not Knowledge)  Ex: Jones believes he is 5 foot 12, it is true because he is actually 5 foot 12, but has never measured himself and has no justification • This is a LUCKY GUESS o Justification (lots of proof for the thing), Truth (the thing is true and on their side), No Belief – NOT KNOWLEDGE  Ex: James does not believe people have been on the moon, even if there is lots of evidence and as a matter of fact we did  This is DENIAL o Critical Thinking can help us to make sure that our beliefs are justified, which will mean they are more likely to be true What is Truth? Three attitudes one might have to claims in some subject matter: • Realism : there are truths in that subject and they are independent of anyone’s beliefs o There are facts, and they are out there. “They are what they are” and those facts do not depend on us or our beliefs. We may not necessarily know them • Relativism: there are truths in that subject but they depend on (are relative to) our beliefs o Kind of like the realist, acknowledge the presence of facts there. However, these truths depend on us, so we if change our mind then those facts can change. The truths are relative to us  Social Relativism  Individual Relativism • Nihilism: there are no truths in that subject o There is nothing in the world corresponding to what we want to say, in a way nothing is real. The attitude that there is nothing there. o Ex: Being a nihilist about Sherlock Holmes’ love life, there is
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