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Oct. 25th Talk by Dr. Weimin Sun: What is critical thinking, and how to teach it?

发布日期:2022-10-18 作者:

Title: What is critical thinking, and how to teach it?

SpeakerDr. Weimin Sun (Department of Philosophy, California State University Northridge)

Time: 10:00 ~ 12:00  (Oct. 25th)

Zoom Meeting ID: 878 6590 6728
Passcode: 911124


Abstract:  I studied logic in Beijing University from 1987 to 1994. Though I did not pursue further logical research after that, I have been teaching critical thinking for more than 20 years, and I like to share my understanding of critical thinking and some reflective experiences of teaching it. 

Critical thinking, as its name suggests, has two basic components. The first one, ‘critical’ element, is mostly concerned with having the right mindset for thinking rationally. As it is typically understood, critical thinking is concerned with the discovery and justification of the truth and only the truth, so to be critical means to have a mindset that is willing to examine any statement or belief for its truth and justification and to accept it based only on sufficient support. Consequently, the mental attitudes that are conducive to critical thinking should be encouraged, such as open-mindedness, inquisitiveness, and curiosity. All mental attitudes and dispositions that are obstacles to critical thinking, such as prejudice, bias, dogmatism, face-saving, wishful thinking, and relativism, should be overcome. There are also innate tendencies, often a product of System-1 thinking, that disrupt the proper process of critical thinking and need to be made aware and regulated. 

The second element of critical thinking is concerned with the tools of thought, which include the typical logic rules in various branches of logic, the rules of scientific reasoning, probability reasoning, statistical reasoning, causal reasoning, and others. It also includes basic skills in identifying arguments and analyzing argument structures, and in identifying common fallacies in reasoning. This part is difficult for students to learn, and it is more difficult to apply in their everyday reasoning even for those we have studied logic. Many psychologists have shown that people’s natural reasoning is often quite different from formal logic reasoning, and there is a big gap between the logic standard and the psychological reality. In this talk I will suggest some ways to bridge this gap and to make the teaching of critical thinking more effective.