Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has published a new article on critical thinking. It takes the work of John Dewey as its point of departure and casts a very wide net in its attempt to define critical thinking, which according to author David Hitchcock comes down to this: " critical thinking is careful goal-directed thinking." In the educational context, the definition is more nuanced: "The real educational goal is recognition, adoption and implementation by students of those criteria and standards. That adoption and implementation in turn consists in acquiring the knowledge, abilities and dispositions of a critical thinker."

I think Hitchcock has cast a much wider net than is appropriate, conflating critical thinking with scientific reasoning. Scientific reasoning would include "an intellectualization of the difficulty or perplexity into a problem to be solved" and "the use of one suggestion after another as a leading idea, or hypothesis." I'm also sceptical of the characterization of critical thinking as "dispositions", which places this account firmly into the behaviourist camp of Gilbert Ryle. Why wouldn't the article begin with Glaser and Watson, keeping Dewey as a pre-positivist historical note? Why wouldn't it begin with the commonly tested critical thinking skills, "inference, recognition of assumptions, deduction, interpretation, and evaluation of arguments?"

Today: 1 Total: 53 [Direct link]

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

Copyright 2023
Last Updated: Sept 22, 2023 1:48 p.m.

Canadian Flag Creative Commons License.