This autobiographical piece is in response to Frank Fair’s kind invitation to write a reflective piece on my involvement over the last 30 years in the critical thinking movement, with special attention given to 18 years of assessment data as I assessed students’ critical thinking outcomes at Baker University. The first section of the paper deals with my intellectual history and how I came to a specific understanding of CT. The second deals with the Baker Experiment in combining instruction in (...) CT with written composition, with a special focus on Deductive Reconstruction. The third section goes over our attempts at assessment and what we discovered by using three separate tests. The final section of the paper presents my conclusions about the challenges of teaching CT based on the Baker Experiment. (shrink)
Critical thinking is considered an essential educational goal. As a result, many philosophers dreamed their departments would offer multiple sections of CT, hence justifying hiring additional staff. Unfortunately, this dream did not materialize. So, similar to a current theory about teaching writing, “critical thinking across the curriculum” has become a popular idea. While the idea has appeal and unquestionable merit, I will argue that the likelihood the skills necessary for effective CT will actually be taught is minimal.
After critiquing the arguments against using formal logic to teach critical thinking, this paper argues that for theoretical, practical, and empirical reasons, instruction in the fundamentals of formal logic is essential for critical thinking, and so should be included in every class that purports to teach critical thinking.
In this paper, after showing how the postmodern critiques of Enlightenment rationality apply to critical thinking, I argue that a critical discussion on any subject must assume specific principles of rationality. I then show how these principles can be used to critique and reject postmodern claims about the contextual nature of rationality.
This paper provides evidence and arguments that, given the choice of teaching critical thinking and written composition as separate, stand-alone courses or combining them, the two should be combined into an integrated sequence.
In "The Problem with Percy: Epistemology, Understanding and Critical Thinking," Sharon Bailin argues that critical thinking skills do not generalize because students do not understand the larger epistemological picture in which to situate the importance of arguments and reasons. More plausible explanations are: (I) instructors across the disciplines do not give assignments requiring critical thinking (CT) skills, (2) single courses in CT have little effect, (3) pragmatic arguments showing the effectiveness of CT are more effective than epistemological arguments with the (...) average student. So to achieve the generalization of the logical skills and intellectual dispositions inherent in CT courses, CT thinking cannot be departmentalized. (shrink)
While all who are interested in the philosophical issues surrounding feminism should read Simone de Beauvoir's seminal work The Second Sex, many who begin the long journey do not understand the philo- sophical traditions from which her analyses and arguments grow. This makes understanding and appreciating the cogency of her position very difficult. Understanding The Second Sex introduces the naive reader to the necessary philosophical tradition, explicates major portions of the text, and analyzes Simone de Beauvoir's criticisms of marriage and (...) romantic love. (shrink)