Failure to identify arguments gives rise to missed opportunities. Chapter Five displayed the elements in constructing and reconstructing arguments,processes that yield more complete knowledge of the rationales supplied by arguments.
Finally, Chapters Six and Seven detailed the steps involved in analyzing the strength of support provided by reasons for their conclusions.
This study of arguments has three stages: identification, (re)construction, and analysis.
As we saw in Chapter Four, we must be able to identify the need for arguments, and then identify them when we have them.
According to one group of researchers, “Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning or communication, as a guide to belief and action.” Again, a curiously self-demonstrating definition, but not one ready-made for the classroom.
Generally speaking, creativity is associated with generating ideas, while critical thinking is associated with judging them.Perhaps it might seem that at the point of the plumping, there is another, second-order act of critical thinking that takes all of these factors under its purviewreason, emotion, taste, hunger, etc.and, evaluating them as if in a flash, determines which belief or course of action is to be preferred.First, there is an observation about the relationship between context, subject matter, and form in the production and consumption of arguments, on the one hand, and those same elements in the process of analysis, on the other.Shouldnt the act of decision or judgment be included in our model as well?This plumping is a different sort of cognitive activity than the deliberative evaluation that constitutes critical thinkingit is to critical thinking as the leap off the high dive is to the trip to the edge.Critical thinking is thinking that involves the principled application of standards and criteria in the evaluation of practical and theoretical options for the purpose of reaching conclusions about those options.When deliberating about options, you can cast the deliberation in terms of arguments as follows: deliberation involves the construction of arguments for each of the options, understood as a conclusion.One of the leading researchers in the area, Robert Sternberg, characterizes creativity as “a decision to buy low and sell high in the world of ideas.” While this is itself a creative approach to the problem of defining creativity, it is not a solution easily translated into a rubric.Definitions of critical thinking don’t fare much better.Each node of the flowchart will represent a stage in the process of critical thinking, and it will be associated with a question or set of questions that point the way to the next move in the implementation sequence.After all, our definition makes the goal clear enoughwe think for a reason, typically to make some decision, whether theoretical or practical.