Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the active, skillful deployment of those general principles and procedures of thinking which are most conducive to truth or accuracy in judgement.

 

To understand critical thinking better, consider some of the things that uncritical thinkers do.  An uncritical thinker:

  • accepts things purely on faith
  • thinks that a person's beliefs are "true for them" and can't be mistaken or criticized
  • is not disposed to seek evidence or challenge beliefs.

 

By contrast, a critical thinker asks questions like:

  • What am I being asked to accept?
  • Should I accept it or not? 
  • Why?  What are the arguments and how strong are they?

 

The foundation of critical thinking is understanding how claims are supported or opposed by evidence, i.e., how information is relevant to whether a claim is true or false.  Any particular piece of evidence can be cast in the form of a reason for, or objection to, some claim.  So at the most basic level, the general principles and procedures you need to be a critical thinker are the ones governing reasoning and argument. 

 

A critical thinker can:

  • identify the main contention in an issue,
  • look for evidence that supports or opposes that contention, and
  • assess the strength of the reasoning. 

 

Other links:

Argument maps support critical thinking

Rationale™ - argument mapping software  

Critical Thinking On The Web (critical thinking resources)