Blog Post: [Part 8, Final] Critical Thinking, Moral Integrity, and Citizenship: Teaching for the Intellectual Virtues

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Feb 21, 2023 • 26d ago
[Part 8, Final] Critical Thinking, Moral Integrity, and Citizenship: Teaching for the Intellectual Virtues

{"ops":[{"insert":"[Missed Part 7? "},{"attributes":{"bold":true,"link":""},"insert":"Read It Here"},{"insert":"]\n\n\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"bold":true},"insert":"Conclusion"},{"insert":"\n\nWe do not now teach for the intellectual virtues. If we did, not only would we have a basis for integrating the curriculum, we would also have a basis for integrating the cognitive and affective lives of students. Such integration is the basis for strong sense critical thinking, for moral development, and for citizenship. The moral, social, and political issues we face in everyday life are increasingly intellectually complex. Their settlement relies on circumstances and events that are interpreted in a variety of (often conflicting) ways. For example, should our government publish misinformation to mislead another government or group which it considers terrorist? Is it ethical to tolerate a “racist” regime such as South Africa, or are we morally obligated to attempt to overthrow it? Is it ethical to support anti-communist groups that use, or have used, torture, rape, or murder as tools in their struggle? When, if ever, should the CIA attempt to overthrow a government it perceives as undemocratic? How can one distinguish “terrorists” from “freedom fighters”?\n\nOr, consider issues that are more “domestic” or “personal”. Should deliberate polluters be considered “criminals”? How should we balance off “dollar losses” against “safety gains”? That is, how much money should we be willing to spend to save human lives? What is deliberate deception in advertising and business practices? Should one protect incompetent individuals within one’s profession from exposure? How should one reconcile or balance one’s personal vested interest against the public good? What moral or civic responsibility exists to devote time and energy to the public good as against one’s private interests and amusements?\n\nThese are just a few of the many complex moral, political, and social issues that virtually all citizens must face. The response of the citizenry to such issues defines the moral character of society. These issues challenge our intellectual honesty, courage, integrity, empathy, and fairmindedness. Given their complexity, they require perseverance and confidence in reason. People easily become cynical, intellectually lazy, or retreat into simplistic models of learning and the world they learned in school and see and hear on TV. On the other hand, it is doubtful that the fundamental conflicts and antagonisms in the world can be solved or resolved by sheer power and abstract good will. Good-heartedness and power are insufficient for creating a just world. Some modest development of the intellectual virtues seems essential for future human survival and well-being. Whether the energy, the resources, and the insights necessary for this development can be significantly mustered remains open. This is certain: we will never succeed in cultivating traits whose roots we do not understand and whose development we do not foster.\n"}]}

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