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Critical Thinking Unit 1 Key Terms In Economics

Glossary: A-B


accurate
: Free from errors, mistakes, or distortion. Correct connotes little more than absence of error; accurate implies a positive exercise of one to obtain conformity with fact or truth; exact stresses perfect conformity to fact, truth, or some standard; precise suggests minute accuracy of detail. Accuracy is an important goal in critical thinking, though it is almost always a matter of degree. It is also important to recognize that making mistakes is an essential part of learning and that it is far better that students make their own mistakes, than that they parrot the thinking of the text or teacher. It should also be recognized that some distortion usually results whenever we think within a point of view or frame of reference. Students should think with this awareness in mind, with some sense of the limitations of their own, the text's, the teacher's, the subject's perspective. See perfections of thought.

ambiguous: A sentence having two or more possible meanings. Sensitivity to ambiguity and vagueness in writing and speech is essential to good thinking. A continual effort to be clear and precise in language usage is fundamental to education. Ambiguity is a problem more of sentences than of individual words. Furthermore, not every sentence that can be construed in more than one way is problematic and deserving of analysis. Many sentences are clearly intended one way; any other construal is obviously absurd and not meant. For example, "Make me a sandwich." is never seriously intended to request metamorphic change. It is a poor example for teaching genuine insight into critical thinking. For an example of a problematic ambiguity, consider the statement, "Welfare is corrupt." Among the possible meanings of this sentence are the following: Those who administer welfare programs take bribes to administer welfare policy unfairly; Welfare policies are written in such a way that much of the money goes to people who don't deserve it rather than to those who do; A government that gives money to people who haven't earned it corrupts both the giver and the recipient. If two people are arguing about whether or not welfare is corrupt, but interpret the claim differently, they can make little or no progress; they aren't arguing about the same point. Evidence and considerations relevant to one interpretation may be irrelevant to others.

analyze: To break up a whole into its parts, to examine in detail so as to determine the nature of, to look more deeply into an issue or situation. All learning presupposes some analysis of what we are learning, if only by categorizing or labeling things in one way rather than another. Students should continually be asked to analyze their ideas, claims, experiences, interpretations, judgments, and theories and those they hear and read. See elements of thought.

argue: There are two meanings of this word that need to be distinguished: 1) to argue in the sense of to fight or to emotionally disagree; and 2) to give reasons for or against a proposal or proposition. In emphasizing critical thinking, we continually try to get our students to move from the first sense of the word to the second; that is, we try to get them to see the importance of giving reasons to support their views without getting their egos involved in what they are saying. This is a fundamental problem in human life. To argue in the critical thinking sense is to use logic and reason, and to bring forth facts to support or refute a point. It is done in a spirit of cooperation and good will.

argument: A reason or reasons offered for or against something, the offering of such reasons. This term refers to a discussion in which there is disagreement and suggests the use of logic and the bringing forth of facts to support or refute a point. See argue.

to assume: To take for granted or to presuppose. Critical thinkers can and do make their assumptions explicit, assess them, and correct them. Assumptions can vary from the mundane to the problematic: I heard a scratch at the door. I got up to let the cat in. I assumed that only the cat makes that noise, and that he makes it only when he wants to be let in. Someone speaks gruffly to me. I feel guilty and hurt. I assume he is angry at me, that he is only angry at me when I do something bad, and that if he's angry at me, he dislikes me. Notice that people often equate making assumptions with making false assumptions. When people say, "Don't assume", this is what they mean. In fact, we cannot avoid making assumptions and some are justifiable. (For instance, we have assumed that people who buy this book can read English.) Rather than saying "Never assume", we say, "Be aware of and careful about the assumptions you make, and be ready to examine and critique them." See assumption, elements of thought.

assumption: A statement accepted or supposed as true without proof or demonstration; an unstated premise or belief. All human thought and experience is based on assumptions. Our thought must begin with something we take to be true in a particular context. We are typically unaware of what we assume and therefore rarely question our assumptions. Much of what is wrong with human thought can be found in the uncritical or unexamined assumptions that underlie it. For example, we often experience the world in such a way as to assume that we are observing things just as they are, as though we were seeing the world without the filter of a point of view. People we disagree with, of course, we recognize as having a point of view. One of the key dispositions of critical thinking is the on-going sense that as humans we always think within a perspective, that we virtually never experience things totally and absolutistically. There is a connection, therefore, between thinking so as to be aware of our assumptions and being intellectually humble.

authority:

1) The power or supposed right to give commands, enforce obedience, take action, or make final decisions.

2) A person with much knowledge and expertise in a field, hence reliable. Critical thinkers recognize that ultimate authority rests with reason and evidence, since it is only on the assumption that purported experts have the backing of reason and evidence that they rightfully gain authority. Much instruction discourages critical thinking by encouraging students to believe that whatever the text or teacher says is true. As a result, students do not learn how to assess authority. See knowledge.

bias: A mental leaning or inclination. We must clearly distinguish two different senses of the word ’’bias’’. One is neutral, the other negative. In the neutral sense we are referring simply to the fact that, because of one's point of view, one notices some things rather than others, emphasizes some points rather than others, and thinks in one direction rather than others. This is not in itself a criticism because thinking within a point of view is unavoidable. In the negative sense, we are implying blindness or irrational resistance to weaknesses within one's own point of view or to the strength or insight within a point of view one opposes. Fairminded critical thinkers try to be aware of their bias (in sense one) and try hard to avoid bias (in sense two). Many people confuse these two senses. Many confuse bias with emotion or with evaluation, perceiving any expression of emotion or any use of evaluative words to be biased (sense two). Evaluative words that can be justified by reason and evidence are not biased in the negative sense. See criteria, evaluation, judgment, opinion.

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{"id":247,"title":"Glossary: A-B","author":"","content":"<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong><br /> accurate</strong>: Free from errors, mistakes, or distortion. Correct connotes little more than absence of error; accurate implies a positive exercise of one to obtain conformity with fact or truth; exact stresses perfect conformity to fact, truth, or some standard; precise suggests minute accuracy of detail. Accuracy is an important goal in critical thinking, though it is almost always a matter of degree. It is also important to recognize that making mistakes is an essential part of learning and that it is far better that students make their own mistakes, than that they parrot the thinking of the text or teacher. It should also be recognized that some distortion usually results whenever we think within a point of view or frame of reference. Students should think with this awareness in mind, with some sense of the limitations of their own, the text's, the teacher's, the subject's perspective. See perfections of thought.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>ambiguous</strong>: A sentence having two or more possible meanings. Sensitivity to ambiguity and vagueness in writing and speech is essential to good thinking. A continual effort to be clear and precise in language usage is fundamental to education. Ambiguity is a problem more of sentences than of individual words. Furthermore, not every sentence that can be construed in more than one way is problematic and deserving of analysis. Many sentences are clearly intended one way; any other construal is obviously absurd and not meant. For example, \"Make me a sandwich.\" is never seriously intended to request metamorphic change. It is a poor example for teaching genuine insight into critical thinking. For an example of a problematic ambiguity, consider the statement, \"Welfare is corrupt.\" Among the possible meanings of this sentence are the following: Those who administer welfare programs take bribes to administer welfare policy unfairly; Welfare policies are written in such a way that much of the money goes to people who don't deserve it rather than to those who do; A government that gives money to people who haven't earned it corrupts both the giver and the recipient. If two people are arguing about whether or not welfare is corrupt, but interpret the claim differently, they can make little or no progress; they aren't arguing about the same point. Evidence and considerations relevant to one interpretation may be irrelevant to others.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>analyze</strong>: To break up a whole into its parts, to examine in detail so as to determine the nature of, to look more deeply into an issue or situation. All learning presupposes some analysis of what we are learning, if only by categorizing or labeling things in one way rather than another. Students should continually be asked to analyze their ideas, claims, experiences, interpretations, judgments, and theories and those they hear and read. See elements of thought.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>argue</strong>: There are two meanings of this word that need to be distinguished: 1) to argue in the sense of to fight or to emotionally disagree; and 2) to give reasons for or against a proposal or proposition. In emphasizing critical thinking, we continually try to get our students to move from the first sense of the word to the second; that is, we try to get them to see the importance of giving reasons to support their views without getting their egos involved in what they are saying. This is a fundamental problem in human life. To argue in the critical thinking sense is to use logic and reason, and to bring forth facts to support or refute a point. It is done in a spirit of cooperation and good will.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>argument</strong>: A reason or reasons offered for or against something, the offering of such reasons. This term refers to a discussion in which there is disagreement and suggests the use of logic and the bringing forth of facts to support or refute a point. See argue.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>to assume</strong>: To take for granted or to presuppose. Critical thinkers can and do make their assumptions explicit, assess them, and correct them. Assumptions can vary from the mundane to the problematic: I heard a scratch at the door. I got up to let the cat in. I assumed that only the cat makes that noise, and that he makes it only when he wants to be let in. Someone speaks gruffly to me. I feel guilty and hurt. I assume he is angry at me, that he is only angry at me when I do something bad, and that if he's angry at me, he dislikes me. Notice that people often equate making assumptions with making false assumptions. When people say, \"Don't assume\", this is what they mean. In fact, we cannot avoid making assumptions and some are justifiable. (For instance, we have assumed that people who buy this book can read English.) Rather than saying \"Never assume\", we say, \"Be aware of and careful about the assumptions you make, and be ready to examine and critique them.\" See assumption, elements of thought.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>assumption</strong>: A statement accepted or supposed as true without proof or demonstration; an unstated premise or belief. All human thought and experience is based on assumptions. Our thought must begin with something we take to be true in a particular context. We are typically unaware of what we assume and therefore rarely question our assumptions. Much of what is wrong with human thought can be found in the uncritical or unexamined assumptions that underlie it. For example, we often experience the world in such a way as to assume that we are observing things just as they are, as though we were seeing the world without the filter of a point of view. People we disagree with, of course, we recognize as having a point of view. One of the key dispositions of critical thinking is the on-going sense that as humans we always think within a perspective, that we virtually never experience things totally and absolutistically. There is a connection, therefore, between thinking so as to be aware of our assumptions and being intellectually humble.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>authority</strong>: </span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">1) The power or supposed right to give commands, enforce obedience, take action, or make final decisions. </span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">2) A person with much knowledge and expertise in a field, hence reliable. Critical thinkers recognize that ultimate authority rests with reason and evidence, since it is only on the assumption that purported experts have the backing of reason and evidence that they rightfully gain authority. Much instruction discourages critical thinking by encouraging students to believe that whatever the text or teacher says is true. As a result, students do not learn how to assess authority. See knowledge.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>bias</strong>: A mental leaning or inclination. We must clearly distinguish two different senses of the word ’’bias’’. One is neutral, the other negative. In the neutral sense we are referring simply to the fact that, because of one's point of view, one notices some things rather than others, emphasizes some points rather than others, and thinks in one direction rather than others. This is not in itself a criticism because thinking within a point of view is unavoidable. In the negative sense, we are implying blindness or irrational resistance to weaknesses within one's own point of view or to the strength or insight within a point of view one opposes. Fairminded critical thinkers try to be aware of their bias (in sense one) and try hard to avoid bias (in sense two). Many people confuse these two senses. Many confuse bias with emotion or with evaluation, perceiving any expression of emotion or any use of evaluative words to be biased (sense two). Evaluative words that can be justified by reason and evidence are not biased in the negative sense. See criteria, evaluation, judgment, opinion.</span></p>\r\n<p><a href=\"#top\"><strong>Back to top</strong></a></p>\r\n<p><br style=\"clear: both;\" /></p>","public_access":"1","public_downloads":"1","sku":"","files":{},"images":{}}

Glossary: C

An Educator's Guide to Critical Thinking Terms and Concepts

clarify: To make easier to understand, to free from confusion or ambiguity, to remove obscurities. Clarity is a fundamental perfection of thought and clarification a fundamental aim in critical thinking. Students often do not see why it is important to write and speak clearly, why it is important to say what you mean and mean what you say. The key to clarification is concrete, specific examples. See accurate, ambiguous, logic of language, vague.

concept: An idea or thought, especially a generalized idea of a thing or of a class of things. Humans think within concepts or ideas. We can never achieve command over our thoughts unless we learn how to achieve command over our concepts or ideas. Thus we must learn how to identify the concepts or ideas we are using, contrast them with alternative concepts or ideas, and clarify what we include and exclude by means of them. For example, most people say they believe strongly in democracy, but few can clarify with examples what that word does and does not imply. Most people confuse the meaning of words with cultural associations, with the result that "democracy’’ means to people whatever we do in running our government-any country that is different is undemocratic. We must distinguish the concepts implicit in the English language from the psychological associations surrounding that concept in a given social group or culture. The failure to develop this ability is a major cause of uncritical thought and selfish critical thought. See logic of language.

conclude/conclusion: To decide by reasoning, to infer, to deduce; the last step in a reasoning process; a judgment, decision, or belief formed after investigation or reasoning. All beliefs, decisions, or actions are based on human thought, but rarely as the result of conscious reasoning or deliberation. All that we believe is, one way or another, based on conclusions that we have come to during our lifetime. Yet, we rarely monitor our thought processes, we don't critically assess the conclusions we come to, to determine whether we have sufficient grounds or reasons for accepting them. People seldom recognize when they have come to a conclusion. They confuse their conclusions with evidence, and so cannot assess the reasoning that took them from evidence to conclusion. Recognizing that human life is inferential, that we continually come to conclusions about ourselves and the things and persons around us, is essential to thinking critically and reflectively.

consistency: To think, act, or speak in agreement with what has already been thought, done, or expressed; to have intellectual or moral integrity. Human life and thought is filled with inconsistency, hypocrisy, and contradiction. We often say one thing and do another, judge ourselves and our friends by one standard and our antagonists by another, lean over backwards to justify what we want or negate what does not serve our interests. Similarly, we often confuse desires with needs, treating our desires as equivalent to needs, putting what we want above the basic needs of others. Logical and moral consistency are fundamental values of fairminded critical thinking. Social conditioning and native egocentrism often obscure social contradictions, inconsistency, and hypocrisy. See personal contradiction, social contradiction, intellectual integrity, human nature.

contradict/contradiction: To assert the opposite of; to be contrary to, go against; a statement in opposition to another; a condition in which things tend to be contrary to each other; inconsistency; discrepancy; a person or thing containing or composed of contradictory elements. See personal contradiction, social contradiction.

criterion (criteria, pl): A standard, rule, or test by which something can be judged or measured. Human life, thought, and action are based on human values. The standards by which we determine whether those values are achieved in any situation represent criteria. Critical thinking depends upon making explicit the standards or criteria for rational or justifiable thinking and behavior. See evaluation.

critical listening: A mode of monitoring how we are listening so as to maximize our accurate understanding of what another person is saying. By understanding the logic of human communication — that everything spoken expresses point of view, uses some ideas and not others, has implications, etc. — critical thinkers can listen so as to enter sympathetically and analytically into the perspective of others. See critical speaking, critical reading, critical writing, elements of thought, intellectual empathy.

critical person: One who has mastered a range of intellectual skills and abilities. If that person generally uses those skills to advance his or her own selfish interests, that person is a critical thinker only in a weak or qualified sense. If that person generally uses those skills fairmindedly, entering empathically into the points of view of others, he or she is a critical thinker in the strong or fullest sense. See critical thinking.

critical reading: Critical reading is an active, intellectually engaged process in which the reader participates in an inner dialogue with the writer. Most people read uncritically and so miss some part of what is expressed while distorting other parts. A critical reader realizes the way in which reading, by its very nature, means entering into a point of view other than our own, the point of view of the writer. A critical reader actively looks for assumptions, key concepts and ideas, reasons and justifications, supporting examples, parallel experiences, implications and consequences, and any other structural features of the written text, to interpret and assess it accurately and fairly. See elements of thought.

critical society: A society which rewards adherence to the values of critical thinking and hence does not use indoctrination and inculcation as basic modes of learning (rewards reflective questioning, intellectual independence, and reasoned dissent). Socrates is not the only thinker to imagine a society in which independent critical thought became embodied in the concrete day-to-day lives of individuals; William Graham Sumner, North America's distinguished anthropologist, explicitly formulated the ideal:

The critical habit of thought, if usual in a society, will pervade all its mores, because it is a way of taking up the problems of life. Men educated in it cannot be stampeded by stump orators and are never deceived by dithyrambic oratory. They are slow to believe. They can hold things as possible or probable in all degrees, without certainty and without pain. They can wait for evidence and weigh evidence, uninfluenced by the emphasis or confidence with which assertions are made on one side or the other. They can resist appeals to their dearest prejudices and all kinds of cajolery. Education in the critical faculty is the only education of which it can be truly said that it makes good citizens. (Folkways, 1906)

Until critical habits of thought pervade our society, however, there will be a tendency for schools as social institutions to transmit the prevailing world view more or less uncritically, to transmit it as reality, not as a picture of reality. Education for critical thinking, then, requires that the school or classroom become a microcosm of a critical society. See didactic instruction, dialogical instruction, intellectual virtues, knowledge.

critical thinking:

1) Disciplined, self-directed thinking which exemplifies the perfections of thinking appropriate to a particular mode or domain of thinking.

2) Thinking that displays mastery of intellectual skills and abilities.

3) The art of thinking about your thinking while you are thinking in order to make your thinking better: more clear, more accurate, or more defensible. Critical thinking can be distinguished into two forms: "selfish" or "sophistic", on the one hand, and "fairminded", on the other. In thinking critically we use our command of the elements of thinking to adjust our thinking successfully to the logical demands of a type or mode of thinking. See critical person, critical society, critical reading, critical listening, critical writing, perfections of thought, elements of thought, domains of thought, intellectual virtues.

critical writing: To express ourselves in language requires that we arrange our ideas in some relationships to each other. When accuracy and truth are at issue, then we must understand what our thesis is, how we can support it, how we can elaborate it to make it intelligible to others, what objections can be raised to it from other points of view, what the limitations are to our point of view, and so forth. Disciplined writing requires disciplined thinking; disciplined thinking is achieved through disciplined writing. See critical listening, critical reading, logic of language.

critique: An objective judging, analysis, or evaluation of something. The purpose of critique is the same as the purpose of critical thinking: to appreciate strengths as well as weaknesses, virtues as well as failings. Critical thinkers critique in order to redesign, remodel, and make better.

cultural association: Undisciplined thinking often reflects associations, personal and cultural, absorbed or uncritically formed. If a person who was cruel to me as a child had a particular tone of voice, I may find myself disliking a person who has the same tone of voice. Media advertising juxtaposes and joins logically unrelated things to influence our buying habits. Raised in a particular country or within a particular group within it, we form any number of mental links which, if they remain unexamined, unduly influence our thinking. See concept, critical society.

cultural assumption: Unassessed (often implicit) belief adopted by virtue of upbringing in a society. Raised in a society, we unconsciously take on its point of view, values, beliefs, and practices. At the root of each of these are many kinds of assumptions. Not knowing that we perceive, conceive, think, and experience within assumptions we have taken in, we take ourselves to be perceiving "things as they are," not "things as they appear from a cultural vantage point". Becoming aware of our cultural assumptions so that we might critically examine them is a crucial dimension of critical thinking. It is, however, a dimension almost totally absent from schooling. Lip service to this ideal is common enough; a realistic emphasis is virtually unheard of. See ethnocentricity, prejudice, social contradiction.

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{"id":"248","title":"Glossary: C","author":"","content":"<p><span style=\"color: #0044aa; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong><a name=\"C\"></a><span style=\"color: #666666;\">An Educator's Guide to Critical Thinking Terms and Concepts</span></strong></span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>clarify</strong>: To make easier to understand, to free from confusion or ambiguity, to remove obscurities. Clarity is a fundamental perfection of thought and clarification a fundamental aim in critical thinking. Students often do not see why it is important to write and speak clearly, why it is important to say what you mean and mean what you say. The key to clarification is concrete, specific examples. See accurate, ambiguous, logic of language, vague. </span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>concept</strong>: An idea or thought, especially a generalized idea of a thing or of a class of things. Humans think within concepts or ideas. We can never achieve command over our thoughts unless we learn how to achieve command over our concepts or ideas. Thus we must learn how to identify the concepts or ideas we are using, contrast them with alternative concepts or ideas, and clarify what we include and exclude by means of them. For example, most people say they believe strongly in democracy, but few can clarify with examples what that word does and does not imply. Most people confuse the meaning of words with cultural associations, with the result that \"democracy&rsquo;&rsquo; means to people whatever we do in running our government-any country that is different is undemocratic. We must distinguish the concepts implicit in the English language from the psychological associations surrounding that concept in a given social group or culture. The failure to develop this ability is a major cause of uncritical thought and selfish critical thought. See logic of language.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>conclude/conclusion</strong>: To decide by reasoning, to infer, to deduce; the last step in a reasoning process; a judgment, decision, or belief formed after investigation or reasoning. All beliefs, decisions, or actions are based on human thought, but rarely as the result of conscious reasoning or deliberation. All that we believe is, one way or another, based on conclusions that we have come to during our lifetime. Yet, we rarely monitor our thought processes, we don't critically assess the conclusions we come to, to determine whether we have sufficient grounds or reasons for accepting them. People seldom recognize when they have come to a conclusion. They confuse their conclusions with evidence, and so cannot assess the reasoning that took them from evidence to conclusion. Recognizing that human life is inferential, that we continually come to conclusions about ourselves and the things and persons around us, is essential to thinking critically and reflectively.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>consistency</strong>: To think, act, or speak in agreement with what has already been thought, done, or expressed; to have intellectual or moral integrity. Human life and thought is filled with inconsistency, hypocrisy, and contradiction. We often say one thing and do another, judge ourselves and our friends by one standard and our antagonists by another, lean over backwards to justify what we want or negate what does not serve our interests. Similarly, we often confuse desires with needs, treating our desires as equivalent to needs, putting what we want above the basic needs of others. Logical and moral consistency are fundamental values of fairminded critical thinking. Social conditioning and native egocentrism often obscure social contradictions, inconsistency, and hypocrisy. See personal contradiction, social contradiction, intellectual integrity, human nature.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>contradict/contradiction</strong>: To assert the opposite of; to be contrary to, go against; a statement in opposition to another; a condition in which things tend to be contrary to each other; inconsistency; discrepancy; a person or thing containing or composed of contradictory elements. See personal contradiction, social contradiction.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>criterion (criteria, pl)</strong>: A standard, rule, or test by which something can be judged or measured. Human life, thought, and action are based on human values. The standards by which we determine whether those values are achieved in any situation represent criteria. Critical thinking depends upon making explicit the standards or criteria for rational or justifiable thinking and behavior. See evaluation.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>critical listening</strong>: A mode of monitoring how we are listening so as to maximize our accurate understanding of what another person is saying. By understanding the logic of human communication&nbsp;&mdash; that everything spoken expresses point of view, uses some ideas and not others, has implications, etc. &mdash; critical thinkers can listen so as to enter sympathetically and analytically into the perspective of others. See critical speaking, critical reading, critical writing, elements of thought, intellectual empathy.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>critical person</strong>: One who has mastered a range of intellectual skills and abilities. If that person generally uses those skills to advance his or her own selfish interests, that person is a critical thinker only in a weak or qualified sense. If that person generally uses those skills fairmindedly, entering empathically into the points of view of others, he or she is a critical thinker in the strong or fullest sense. See critical thinking.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>critical reading</strong>: Critical reading is an active, intellectually engaged process in which the reader participates in an inner dialogue with the writer. Most people read uncritically and so miss some part of what is expressed while distorting other parts. A critical reader realizes the way in which reading, by its very nature, means entering into a point of view other than our own, the point of view of the writer. A critical reader actively looks for assumptions, key concepts and ideas, reasons and justifications, supporting examples, parallel experiences, implications and consequences, and any other structural features of the written text, to interpret and assess it accurately and fairly. See elements of thought.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>critical society</strong>: A society which rewards adherence to the values of critical thinking and hence does not use indoctrination and inculcation as basic modes of learning (rewards reflective questioning, intellectual independence, and reasoned dissent). Socrates is not the only thinker to imagine a society in which independent critical thought became embodied in the concrete day-to-day lives of individuals; William Graham Sumner, North America's distinguished anthropologist, explicitly formulated the ideal: </span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">The critical habit of thought, if usual in a society, will pervade all its mores, because it is a way of taking up the problems of life. Men educated in it cannot be stampeded by stump orators and are never deceived by dithyrambic oratory. They are slow to believe. They can hold things as possible or probable in all degrees, without certainty and without pain. They can wait for evidence and weigh evidence, uninfluenced by the emphasis or confidence with which assertions are made on one side or the other. They can resist appeals to their dearest prejudices and all kinds of cajolery. Education in the critical faculty is the only education of which it can be truly said that it makes good citizens. (Folkways, 1906) </span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">Until critical habits of thought pervade our society, however, there will be a tendency for schools as social institutions to transmit the prevailing world view more or less uncritically, to transmit it as reality, not as a picture of reality. Education for critical thinking, then, requires that the school or classroom become a microcosm of a critical society. See didactic instruction, dialogical instruction, intellectual virtues, knowledge.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"color: #0044aa; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><span style=\"color: #000000;\"><strong>critical thinking</strong>:</span> </span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>1)</strong> Disciplined, self-directed thinking which exemplifies the perfections of thinking appropriate to a particular mode or domain of thinking. </span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>2)</strong> Thinking that displays mastery of intellectual skills and abilities. </span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>3)</strong> The art of thinking about your thinking while you are thinking in order to make your thinking better: more clear, more accurate, or more defensible. Critical thinking can be distinguished into two forms: \"selfish\" or \"sophistic\", on the one hand, and \"fairminded\", on the other. In thinking critically we use our command of the elements of thinking to adjust our thinking successfully to the logical demands of a type or mode of thinking. See critical person, critical society, critical reading, critical listening, critical writing, perfections of thought, elements of thought, domains of thought, intellectual virtues.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>critical writing</strong>: To express ourselves in language requires that we arrange our ideas in some relationships to each other. When accuracy and truth are at issue, then we must understand what our thesis is, how we can support it, how we can elaborate it to make it intelligible to others, what objections can be raised to it from other points of view, what the limitations are to our point of view, and so forth. Disciplined writing requires disciplined thinking; disciplined thinking is achieved through disciplined writing. See critical listening, critical reading, logic of language.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>critique</strong>: An objective judging, analysis, or evaluation of something. The purpose of critique is the same as the purpose of critical thinking: to appreciate strengths as well as weaknesses, virtues as well as failings. Critical thinkers critique in order to redesign, remodel, and make better.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>cultural association</strong>: Undisciplined thinking often reflects associations, personal and cultural, absorbed or uncritically formed. If a person who was cruel to me as a child had a particular tone of voice, I may find myself disliking a person who has the same tone of voice. Media advertising juxtaposes and joins logically unrelated things to influence our buying habits. Raised in a particular country or within a particular group within it, we form any number of mental links which, if they remain unexamined, unduly influence our thinking. See concept, critical society.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>cultural assumption</strong>: Unassessed (often implicit) belief adopted by virtue of upbringing in a society. Raised in a society, we unconsciously take on its point of view, values, beliefs, and practices. At the root of each of these are many kinds of assumptions. Not knowing that we perceive, conceive, think, and experience within assumptions we have taken in, we take ourselves to be perceiving \"things as they are,\" not \"things as they appear from a cultural vantage point\". Becoming aware of our cultural assumptions so that we might critically examine them is a crucial dimension of critical thinking. It is, however, a dimension almost totally absent from schooling. Lip service to this ideal is common enough; a realistic emphasis is virtually unheard of. See ethnocentricity, prejudice, social contradiction.</span></p>\r\n<p><a href=\"#top\"><strong>Back to top</strong></a></p>\r\n<p><br style=\"clear: both;\" /></p>","public_access":"1","public_downloads":"1","sku":"","files":{},"images":{}}

Glossary: D

An Educator's Guide to Critical Thinking Terms and Concepts

data: Facts, figures, or information from which conclusions can be inferred, or upon which interpretations or theories can be based. As critical thinkers we must make certain to distinguish hard data from the inferences or conclusions we draw from them.

dialectical thinking: Dialogical thinking (thinking within more than one perspective) conducted to test the strengths and weaknesses of opposing points of view. (Court trials and debates are, in a sense, dialectical.) When thinking dialectically, reasoners pit two or more opposing points of view in competition with each other, developing each by providing support, raising objections, countering those objections, raising further objections, and so on. Dialectical thinking or discussion can be conducted so as to "win" by defeating the positions one disagrees with — using critical insight to support one's own view and pointing out flaws in other views (associated with critical thinking in the restricted or weak sense), or fairmindedly, by conceding points that don't stand up to critique, trying to integrate or incorporate strong points found in other views, and using critical insight to develop a fuller and more accurate view (associated with critical thinking in the fuller or strong sense). See monological problems.

dialogical instruction: Instruction that fosters dialogical or dialectic thinking. Thus, when considering a question, the class brings all relevant subjects to bear and considers the perspectives of groups whose views are not canvassed in their texts; for example, "What did King George think of the Declaration of Independence, the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress, Jefferson and Washington, etc.?" or, "How would an economist analyze this situation? A historian? A psychologist? A geographer?" See critical society, didactic instruction, higher order learning, lower order learning, Socratic questioning, knowledge.

dialogical thinking: Thinking that involves a dialogue or extended exchange between different points of view or frames of reference. Students learn best in dialogical situations, in circumstances in which they continually express their views to others and try to fit other's views into their own. See Socratic questioning, monological thinking, multilogical thinking, dialectical thinking.

didactic instruction: Teaching by telling. In didactic instruction, the teacher directly tells the student what to believe and think about a subject. The student's task is to remember what the teacher said and reproduce it on demand. In its most common form, this mode of teaching falsely assumes that one can directly give a person knowledge without that person having to think his or her way to it. It falsely assumes that knowledge can be separated from understanding and justification. It confuses the ability to state a principle with understanding it, the ability to supply a definition with knowing a new word, and the act of saying that something is important with recognizing its importance. See critical society, knowledge.

domains of thought

To Analyze Thinking We Must Identify and Question its Elemental Structures

Standard: Clarity
understandable, the meaning can be grasped

  • Could you elaborate further?
  • Could you give me an example?
  • Could you illustrate what you mean?
  • Standard: Accuracy
    free from errors or distortions, true

  • How could we check on that?
  • How could we find out if that is true?
  • How could we verify or test that?
  • Standard: Precision
    exact to the necessary level of detail

  • Could you be more specific?
  • Could you give me more details?
  • Could you be more exact?
  • Standard: Relevance
    relating to the matter at hand

  • How does that relate to the problem?
  • How does that bear on the question?
  • How does that help us with the issue?
  • Standard: Depth
    containing complexities and multiple interrelationships

  • What factors make this a difficult problem?
  • What are some of the complexities of this question?
  • What are some of the difficulties we need to deal with?
  • Standard: Breadth
    encompassing multiple viewpoints

  • Do we need to look at this from another perspective?
  • Do we need to consider another point of view?
  • Do we need to look at this in other ways?
  • Standard: Logic
    the parts make sense together, no contradictions

  • Does all this make sense together?
  • Does your first paragraph fit in with your last?
  • Does what you say follow from the evidence?
  • Standard: Significance
    focusing on the important, not trivial

  • Is this the most important problem to consider?
  • Is this the central idea to focus on?
  • Which of these facts are most important?
  • Standard: Fairness
    Justifiable, not self-serving or one-sided

  • Do I have any vested interest in this issue?
  • Am I sympathetically representing the viewpoints of others?
  • More Standards:
    There are numerous other standards that may be applied to elements on a contextual basis. Here are just a few:
    Completeness, Validity, Rationality, Sufficiency, Necessity, Feasabilty, Consistency, Authenticity, Effectiveness, Efficiency
    Can you identify others standards relevant to your situation?

    RESET
     VIEW

    Why the Analysis of Thinking is Important

    Everyone thinks; it is our nature to do so. But much of our thinking, left to itself, is biased, distorted, partial, uninformed, or downright prejudiced. If we want to think well, we must understand at least the rudiments of thought, the most basic structures out of which all thinking is made. We must learn how to take thinking apart.

    All Thinking Is Defined by the Eight Elements That Make It Up. Eight basic structures are present in all thinking: Whenever we think, we think for a purpose within a point of view based on assumptions leading to implications and consequences. We use concepts, ideas and theories to interpret data, facts, and experiences in order to answer questions, solve problems, and resolve issues.

    Thinking, then:
    • generates purposes
    • raises questions
    • uses information
    • utilizes concepts
    • makes inferences
    • makes assumptions
    • generates implications
    • embodies a point of view
    Simply "Mouse Over" any object on the page to learn more about it.

    Element: Purpose    All reasoning has a PURPOSE.

  • Take time to state your purpose clearly.
  • Distinguish your purpose from related purposes.
  • Check periodically to be sure you are still on target.
  • Choose significant and realistic purposes.
  • Element: Question    All reasoning is an attempt to figure something out, to settle some QUESTION, to solve some problem.

  • State the question at issue clearly and precisely.
  • Express the question in several ways to clarify its meaning.
  • Break the question into sub-questions.
  • Distinguish questions that have definitive answers from those that are a matter of opinion or that require multiple viewpoints.
  • Element: Information    All reasoning is based on DATA, INFORMATION and EVIDENCE.

  • Restrict your claims to those supported by the data you have.
  • Search for information that opposes your position as well as information that supports it.
  • Make sure that all information used is clear, accurate and relevant.
  • Make sure you have gathered sufficient information.
  • Element: Interpretation and Inference    All reasoning contains INFERENCES or INTERPRETATIONS by which we draw CONCLUSIONS and give meaning to data.

  • Infer only what the evidence implies.
  • Check inferences for their consistency with each other.
  • Identify assumptions underlying your inferences.
  • Element: Concepts    All reasoning is expressed through, and shaped by, CONCEPTS and IDEAS.

  • Identify key concepts and explain them clearly.
  • Consider alternative concepts or alternative definitions of concepts.
  • Make sure you are using concepts with precision.
  • Element: Assumptions
    All reasoning is based on ASSUMPTIONS.

  • Clearly identify your assumptions and determine whether they are justifiable.
  • Consider how your assumptions are shaping your point of view.
  • Element: Implications    All reasoning leads somewhere or has IMPLICATIONS and CONSEQUENCES.

  • Trace the implications and consequences that follow from your reasoning.
  • Search for negative as well as positive implications.
  • Consider all possible consequences.
  • Element: Point Of View    All reasoning is done from some POINT OF VIEW.

  • Identify your point of view.
  • Seek other points of view and identify their strengths as well as weaknesses.
  • Strive to be fairminded in evaluating all points of view.
  • Key Concept:

    Think About... Purpose

    Your purpose is your goal, your objective,
    what you are trying to accomplish. We also use the term to include functions, motives, and intentions.


    You should be clear about your purpose, and your purpose should be justifiable.

    Questions which target purpose
  • What is your, my, their purpose in doing________?
  • What is the objective of this assignment (task, job, experiment, policy, strategy, etc.)?
  • Should we question, refine, modify our purpose (goal, objective, etc.)?
  • What is the purpose of this meeting (chapter, relationship, action)?
  • What is your central aim in this line of thought?
  • What is the purpose of education?
  • Why did you say…?
  • State the Question

    The question lays out the problem or issue and
    guides our thinking. When the question is vague, our thinking will lack clarity and distinctness.


    The question should be clear and precise enough to productively guide our thinking.
    Questions which target the question
  • What is the question I am trying to answer?
  • What important questions are embedded in the issue?
  • Is there a better way to put the question?
  • Is this question clear? Is it complex?
  • I am not sure exactly what question you are asking. Could you explain it?
  • The question in my mind is this: How do you see the question?
  • What kind of question is this? Historical? Scientific? Ethical? Political? Economic? Or…?
  • What would we have to do to settle this question?
  • Gather... Information

    Information includes the facts, data, evidence, or experiences we use to figure things out. It does not necessarily imply accuracy or correctness.

    The information you use should be accurate and relevant to the question or issue you are addressing.
    Questions which target information
  • What information do I need to answer this question?
  • What data are relevant to this problem?
  • Do we need to gather more information?
  • Is this information relevant to our purpose or goal?
  • On what information are you basing that comment?
  • What experience convinced you of this? Could your experience be distorted?
  • How do we know this information (data, testimony) is accurate?
  • Have we left out any important information that we need to consider?
  • Watch Your... Inferences

    Inferences are interpretations or conclusions you come to. Inferring is what the mind does in figuring something out.
    Inferences should logically follow from the evidence. Infer no more or less than what is implied in the situation.
    Questions to check your inferences
  • What conclusions am I coming to?
  • Is my inference logical?
  • Are there other conclusions I should consider?
  • Does this interpretation make sense?
  • Does our solution necessarily follow from our data?
  • How did you reach that conclusion?
  • What are you basing your reasoning on?
  • Is there an alternative plausible conclusion?
  • Given all the facts what is the best possible conclusion?
  • How shall we interpret these data?
  • Clarify Your... Concepts

    Concepts are ideas, theories, laws, principles, or hypotheses we use in thinking to make sense of things.
    Be clear about the concepts you are using and use them justifiably.
    Questions you can ask about concepts
  • What idea am I using in my thinking? Is this idea causing problems for me or for others?
  • I think this is a good theory, but could you explain it more fully?
  • What is the main hypothesis you are using in your reasoning?
  • Are you using this term in keeping with established usage?
  • What main distinctions should we draw in reasoning through this problem?
  • What idea is this author using in his or her thinking? Is there a problem with it?
  • Check Your... Assumptions


    Assumptions are beliefs you take for granted. They usually operate at the subconscious or unconscious level of thought.
    Make sure that you are clear about your assumptions and they are justified by sound evidence.
    Questions you can ask about assumptions
  • What am I assuming or taking for granted?
  • Am I assuming something I shouldn’t?
  • What assumption is leading me to this conclusion?
  • What is… (this policy, strategy, explanation) assuming?
  • What exactly do sociologists (historians, mathematicians, etc.) take for granted?
  • What is being presupposed in this theory?
  • What are some important assumptions I make about my roommate, my friends, my parents, my instructors, my country?
  • Think Through the...
    Implications and Consequences

    Implications are claims or truths that logically follow from other claims or truths. Implications follow from thoughts. Consequences follow from actions.
    Implications are inherent in your thoughts, whether you see them or not. The best thinkers think through the logical implications in a situation before acting.

    Questions you can ask about implications
  • If I decide to do “X”, what things might happen?
  • If I decide not to do “X”, what things might happen?
  • What are you implying when you say that?
  • What is likely to happen if we do this versus that?
  • Are you implying that…?
  • How significant are the implications of this decision?
  • What, if anything, is implied by the fact that a much higher percentage of poor people are in jail than wealthy people?
  • Understand Your...
    Point of View

    Point of view is literally “the place” from which you
    view something. It includes what you are looking at and the way you are seeing it.

    Make sure you understand the limitations of your point of view and that you fully consider other relevant viewpoints.
    Questions to check your point of view
  • How am I looking at this situation? Is there another way to look at it that I should consider?
  • What exactly am I focused on? And how am I seeing it?
  • Is my view the only reasonable view? What does my point of view ignore?
  • Have you ever considered the way ____(Japanese, Muslims, South Americans, etc.) view this?
  • Which of these possible viewpoints makes the most sense given the situation?
  • Am I having difficulty looking at this situation from a viewpoint with which I disagree?
  • What is the point of view of the author of this story?
  • Do I study viewpoints that challenge my personal beliefs?
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