Presentation on theme: "Reason and Argument Chapter 2. Critical Thinking Critical thinking involves awareness, practice, and motivation. Often, how we think and what we think."— Presentation transcript:
Critical Thinking Critical thinking involves awareness, practice, and motivation. Often, how we think and what we think are obstacles to be overcome for the sake of critical thinking. Many of the things you believe may be false, and many of the true things you believe, you may believe for no good reason.
How we think: Certain facts about who we are and how we make decisions and accept beliefs can hinder our abilities to think critically. Recognizing and combatting these factors is a big part of thinking critically.
Self-Interest There is nothing wrong with supporting a claim that is in your interests, but a claim requires more than being in your interest to be supported. Excessive self-interest leads to rationalization, wishful thinking, self-deception, and manipulation by those who simply tell you what you want to hear.
Confirmation Bias Aka ‘selective attention’ is a well-researched bias in peoples’ reasoning. Once people form a theory or an opinion, they tend to look only for or only notice evidence that confirms their prior theory or opinion while failing to notice evidence that denies prior theory or opinion. Combatting confirmation bias requires a great deal of attention and care. It requires a sustained conscious effort to recognize and avoid it.
Confirmation Bias (continued) Bob thinks Steve is always rude to him, and every time that Steve is rude to Bob, Bob treats that as evidence for his opinion. When Steve is not rude to Bob, Bob doesn’t notice one way or the other. This is confirmation bias. It may turn out that Steve is not rude to Bob any more often than anyone else, or not very much more often.
Group think Group think can take multiple forms: – Peer pressure – Appeals to Popularity – Appeals to Common Practice – Overvaluing group ideas Group think can be just as bad as excessive self-interest.
What we think: Many of your beliefs are false. What follows are some very common beliefs that often get in the way of being a good critical thinker.
Relativism/subjectivism There are many kinds of relativism and subjectivism, but the kinds that are a hindrance to critical thinking are often confused with the unobjectionable kinds. To be a good critical thinker, one must recognize the difference between descriptive relativism and normative relativism and also the difference between subjective issues and non-subjective issues.
Descriptive versus Normative Relativism Descriptive As a matter of fact different people have different opinions and beliefs. As a matter of fact, different cultures have different opinions and beliefs. The above is certainly true, but trivial. Normative Each opinion that an individual or culture holds is equally true or valuable. The above is certainly false, and often confused with the position at left.
Subjective versus Non-Subjective Issues Subjective Taste Aesthetic Issues Subjective issues are issues that everyone is fine with letting everyone determine for themselves. Substantive disagreement isn’t possible with genuinely subjective issues. Non-Subjective Truth Morality Non-Subjective issues are not simply matters of taste, and are not determined arbitrarily. Substantive disagreement is possible with non-subjective issues.
Excessive Skepticism It is one thing to entertain doubts about even very strongly held beliefs. This is healthy. However, blowing some doubts out of proportion (like Descartes) is a good way to be a poor thinker. We may accept some claims even while not being entirely certain about them, so long as we have good enough reasons to do so.