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Linguistics 21: Language and Thinking Spring 2013 Professor Thom Huebner Office Hours: MW 8:30-8:45, 12:00- 13:00, 4:15-4:30 and by appointment Office:

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Presentation on theme: "Linguistics 21: Language and Thinking Spring 2013 Professor Thom Huebner Office Hours: MW 8:30-8:45, 12:00- 13:00, 4:15-4:30 and by appointment Office:"— Presentation transcript:

1 Linguistics 21: Language and Thinking Spring 2013 Professor Thom Huebner Office Hours: MW 8:30-8:45, 12:00- 13:00, 4:15-4:30 and by appointment Office: Clark 402A Telephone:

2 Lecture 1: Critical Thinking – What is it?  When you hear the term ‘critical thinking,’ what does that mean to you?

3 CRITICAL THINKING Involving or exercising skilled judgment or observation Wide range of cognitive skills and intellectual dispositions needed to – analyze and evaluate arguments and truth claims: Examples: Slide 4 overcome personal prejudices and biases: Example: language accents make reasonable and intelligent decisions about what to believe and what to do.

4 INTELLIGENT DECISIONS Critical Thinking Critical Thinking - What are the characteristics of a critical thinker? - What is an argument? - Why is critical thinking important in the world today?

5 STANDARDS 1.Clarity 2.Accuracy 3.Precision 4.Relevance (Focus) 5.Consistency 6.Logical correctness 7.Completeness (Depth) 8.Fairness

6 CLARITY  Example: Miss Teen South Carolina Questions: –Which of the standards of critical thinking does Miss TSC not meet? Why? –Can you think of other examples of people “not being clear on the concept”?

7 Relevance, Focus  eFw&feature=fvw eFw&feature=fvw eFw&feature=fvw  Is ex-Governor Palin’s answer to the question relevant?  Why or why not?

8 CONSISTENCY  Logical consistency: Not saying or believing two (or more) things that could not simultaneously be true –Example: P & ~P  Practical consistency: Not saying one thing and doing another –Example: Calvin and Hobbs, P. 12  Exercise: Generate examples of logical / practical inconsistency: page 7, Exercise 1.1 II.

9 LOGICAL CORRECTNESS All mammals are dangerous. Bobo is dangerous. Therefore Bobo is a mammal. I am a man. Brad Pitt is a man. Therefore, I am Brad Pitt. All humans are animals. Most animals can climb trees. Therefore, most humans can climb trees.

10 FAIRNESS  Not identifying truth with self-interest  Not resisting unfamiliar ideas, prejudging issues, stereotyping outsiders

11 BARRIERS 1.Egocentrism 2.Sociocentrism 3.Unwarranted assumptions and stereotypes 4.Relativistic thinking 5.Wishful thinking

12 EGOCENTRISM  Egocentrism: Seeing reality as centered on oneself  Self-interested thinking: Accepting and defending beliefs that harmonize with one’s own self-interest –Example: “A rising tide raises all boats.”  Self-serving bias: Overrating oneself –Example: 90% of drivers rate themselves as above average

13 SOCIOCENTRISM  Sociocentrism: Group-centered thinking  Group bias: Seeing One’s own group, tribe, sect, sex as better –Example: “Girls are better than boys.”  Conformism: Following the crowd, conforming uncritically to group standards of conduct and belief –Example: The lines experiment: page 16.

14 RELATIVISTIC THINKING  Relativism: “There is no objective absolute standard of truth.”  Subjectivism: “Truth is a matter of individual opinion.” Exercise: List areas where truth may be a matter of opinion.  Cultural relativism: “What is true for person A is what person A’s culture of society believes is true.” Examples: drinking wine in France/Iran; polygamy

15 MORAL RELATIVISM  Moral subjectivism: What is morally right and good for an individual A is what A believes is morally right and good. –Example:  Premarital sex – –Premarital sex is always wrong. –Premarital sex is not always wrong

16 PROBLEMS  Relativism makes it impossible to criticize others’ / our own cultural practices, i.e., cannibalism / racism  It rules out the idea of moral progress, i.e., meaning of equality  It can lead to conflicting moral duties: –When an individual holds beliefs in conflict with those of her society; –When an individual belongs to two or more cultures. Discussion: Are you bi-cultural in any sense (do you belong to two or more groups that hold conflicting beliefs on a topic)?

17 UNWARRANTED ASSUMPTIONS  Assumption: Something we take for granted, something we believe to be true without any proof or conclusive evidence  We have to make assumptions (the floor was there yesterday when I got out of bed; it’ll be there today). This only becomes pernicious when those assumptions are unwarranted.  Stereotypes are unwarranted assumptions. Error: Hasty generalization – making a generalization about a large class of people from a small sample Discussion: Identify assumptions you’ve made since you got up this morning. Were they warranted?

18 WISHFUL THINKING  Wishful thinking: believing something not because you have good evidence for it, but because you wish it were true.  Examples: “The wind will pick up.” “He loves me.” “I don’t have a 1-73 chance of dying in a car accident.”  Exercise: Generate examples of hindrances to critical thinking.

19 CHARACTERISTICS of a Critical Thinker  Passionate drive for clarity, precision, and accuracy  Careful, disciplined thinking  Sensitivity to the ways that critical thinking can be prejudiced by egocentrism, wishful thinking and other psychological barriers  Honesty and intellectual humility  Open-mindedness, intellectual courage, love of truth, intellectual perseverance

20 Short ‘Think Piece” Review the list of critical thinking traits, p : –Clarity, precision, accuracy –Sensitivity to egocentrism, sociocentrism, wishful thinking –Intellectual honesty –Open-mindedness –Fact-based beliefs –Awareness of biases and preconceptions –Independent thinking –Intellectual courage to face ideas fairly –Pursuit of truth –Intellectual perseverance

21 Short ‘Think Piece”  Jot down short responses to the following questions: –Which of the traits listed do you think is your strongest critical thinking trait? Why? –Which is your weakest? Why? –What could you do to improve in this latter regard?


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