Critical thinking is not just private pondering, nimble mental gymnastics, or a bland set of teachable skills. Yet some critical thinking texts describe skills of logical deduction, inference, and argument as if thinking were something other than an activity which real people do together.
The Ethical Practice of Critical Thinking explores the ethical questions it poses: When we learn and uphold worthy standards of thinking, how does this also help us to sustain discussion? How is upholding personal dignity and respecting one another interwoven with thinking at our very best about issues which matter for us? How can we begin, develop, and sustain a meeting, group, or organization as a place worthy of our best thinking and our best ethical skills?
We collaborate in critical thinking by taking each other’s thinking seriously. That means that we listen objectively, we dig and research with curiosity, and we argue with care. But we care more about how we treat each other than our arguments. This allows us to think and work our way through conflicts so that our community of discourse becomes stronger instead of falling apart.
Open this door to ethical relationships, and we can ask some new questions of critical thinking: Are fallacies just blameless mistakes in reasoning or should we be morally ashamed of them at times? Is mathematical reasoning above and beyond ethics or is critical thinking with numbers just as soaked with ethical implications as the ways in which we argue with words? Finally, in a media culture which churns words, numbers, and, of course, images into a mundane, hectic, distracting, and ultimately stupefying torrent of information, how can critical thinkers not only survive but thrive together to think hard and keep thinking?
A brief teaching guidelines PDF is available for instructors. Please contact Beth Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a copy.
“Community discourse would improve if a large number of people were to read this book. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and above; general readers.” — S.C. Schwarze, Cabrini College, CHOICE Magazine
If you are a professor teaching in this field you may request a complimentary copy.