Blog Post: [Part 2] Critical Thinking, Moral Integrity, and Citizenship: Teaching for the Intellectual Virtues

Richard Paul Archives
Nov 02, 2022 • 1y ago
[Part 2] Critical Thinking, Moral Integrity, and Citizenship: Teaching for the Intellectual Virtues

{"ops":[{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"[Missed Part 1? "},{"attributes":{"bold":true,"link":""},"insert":"Read It Here"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"]"},{"insert":"\n\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"bold":true},"insert":"Teaching for “Strong Sense” Skills"},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"bold":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\nThe term “critical thinking” can be used in either a weak or a strong sense, depending upon whether we think of critical thinking narrowly, as a list or collection of discrete intellectual skills, or, more broadly, as a mode of mental integration, as a synthesized complex of dispositions, values, and skills necessary to becoming a fairminded, rational person. Teaching critical thinking in a strong sense is a powerful, and I believe necessary means to moral integrity and responsible citizenship.\n \nIntellectual skills in and of themselves can be used either for good or ill, to enlighten or to propagandize, to gain narrow, self-serving ends, or to further the general and public good. The micro-skills themselves, for example, do not define fairmindedness and could be used as easily by those who are highly prejudiced as those who are not. Those students not exposed to the challenge of strong sense critical thinking assignments (for example, assignments in which they must empathetically reconstruct viewpoints that differ strikingly from their own) will not, as a matter of abstract morality or general good-heartedness, be fair to points of view they oppose, nor will they automatically develop a rationally defensible notion of what the public good is on the many issues they must decide as citizen.\n \nCritical Thinking, in its most defensible sense, is not simply a matter of cognitive skills. Moral integrity and responsible citizenship are, in turn, not simply a matter of good-heartedness or good intentions. Many good-hearted people cannot see through and critique propaganda and mass manipulation, and most good-hearted people fall prey at times to the powerful tendency to engage in self deception, especially when their own egocentric interests and desires are at stake. One can be good-hearted and intellectually egocentric at the same time.\n \nThe problems of education for fairminded independence of thought, for genuine moral integrity, and for responsible citizenship are not three separate issues but one complex task. If we succeed with one dimension of the problem, we succeed with all. If we fail with one, we fail with all. Now we are failing with all because we do not clearly understand the interrelated nature of the problem nor how to address it.\n\n\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"[The following is a textual representation of a diagram that appeared in the original article, but that is too large to attach to this blog entry.]"},{"insert":"\n\n"},{"attributes":{"underline":true,"bold":true},"insert":"Three Modes of Character Integration"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":" (expressed in exclusive categories for purposes of theoretical clarity)"},{"insert":"\n\n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"1) The Uncritical Person"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n\n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"2) The Self-Serving Critical Person (weak sense)"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"admitting to a range of sophistication"},{"attributes":{"indent":1,"list":"bullet"},"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"from childlike, awkward rationalizations to highly sophisticated, creative, and intellectually resourceful egocentric and sociocentric rationalizations"},{"attributes":{"indent":1,"list":"bullet"},"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"critical thinking skills internalized in the service of one's vested interests and desires"},{"attributes":{"indent":1,"list":"bullet"},"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"3) The Fairminded Critical Person (strong sense)"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"admitting to a range of development levels"},{"attributes":{"indent":1,"list":"bullet"},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"\nfrom the fairmindedness that a child is able to exercise to that of the most profound thinkers"},{"attributes":{"indent":1,"list":"bullet"},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"\ncritical thinking skills internalized in the service of balanced truth, rationality, autonomy, and self insight"},{"attributes":{"indent":1,"list":"bullet"},"insert":"\n"}]}

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