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Critical thinking, rationality, and social practices Selman, Mark R. 1989

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CRITICAL THINKING, RATIONALITY, AND SOCIAL PRACTICES by  M A R K R. S E L M A N  A THESIS S U B M I T T E D I N P A R T I A L F U L F I L M E N T O F T H E R E Q U I R E M E N T S FOR T H E D E G R E E OF DOCTOR OF P H I L O S O P H Y  in T H E F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES Social and Educational Studies  We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard  fkE  U N I V E R S I T Y OF BRITISH C O L U M B I A October  1989  © Mark R. Selrnan,  1589  In  presenting  thesis  in partial  fulfilment of the requirements for an  degree at the University  of British  Columbia, 1 agree that the Library shall make it  freely  this  available for reference and  copying  of this  department publication  or  thesis for scholarly purposes may by  his or  her  representatives.  of this thesis for financial  permission.  Department of  jjoz^gj  4  The University of British Columbia 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Y3 Date  study. I further agree that permission  gain  be  granted  shall not be  for extensive  by the head  It is understood  that  advanced  of  my  copying  or  allowed without my  written  ABSTRACT  Thesis supervisor: Dr. Jerrold Coombs  Critical thinking is a widely shared educational goal which has been granted more explicit attention than ever in recent years. Five major approaches to this area  of educational  concern  have  been  influential to  the  development of  educational practices, research programs, and conceptualization in the field. Three of these approaches (the 'process' or basic skills approach, the problem solving approach,  and the  logic  approach)  are  found to  be based  on unfounded  assumptions about the nature of reasoning and thinking, and inadequate attention to the purposes which make critical thinking such a widely accepted educational goal. A fourth (the information processing approach) is found to involve instances of reductionism which render incoherent many of the terms with which we understand and assess our own reasoning, and that of others. The fifth approach (the multi-aspect approach associated with Robert Ennis) is not so essentially flawed, but is found to contain some significant problems. Most notably there is a problem with fixing the reference of 'mental abilities' (which is essential for the issue of generalizability of critical thinking abilities) and with understanding the relationship between judgment and the other aspects of critical thinking.  It is argued that writers in the field of critical thinking generally have tried to purchase objectivity for their conceptions by connecting them with the ideal of disengaged knowledge, either as exemplified by the study of formal logic or the natural sciences. It is argued that, in contrast with this approach, we ought to recognize that values and value judgments are at the heart of critical thinking. ii  The ideal of disengagement as  a  thesis  normative argues  tends to interfere with our understanding of thinking  (rule-governed)  for the  activity grounded in our  social  practices.  This  adoption of a realist position with regard to values, an  expressivist understanding of language, an interpretive stance toward the study of rationality, and a social constructivist conception of rules. Some consequences of these  positions  for  instruction,  teacher  preparation,  suggested.  iii  and  future  research  are  T A B L E OF CONTENTS  Abstract  u  Acknowledgements  v  1. Approaches to Critical Thinking 1.1. Five Approaches 1.2. Issues and problems 1.3. Summary and plan  1 2 5 19  2. What is thinking? 2.1. The nature of thinking 2.2. The purposes of inquiry into thinking 2.3. Preliminary conclusions  22 22 34 42  3. Critical 3.1. 3.2. 3.3. 3.4. 3.5.  thinking as a social practice 'Critical' as a term of judgment Thinking as activity and result What a mental ability is not The search for the Cause Summary  45 45 49 57 64 69  4. Two Standard Distinctions 4.1. Critical & creative thinking 4.2. Theoretical and practical reason 4.3. Interpretation and the practice of criticism 4.4. Summary  72 76 82 103 117  5. Rules and normative activities 5.1. Rules 5.2. Grounds for the existence of rules 5.3. Normative activities 5.4. Consequences for critical thinking  120 121 126 131 147  6. Conclusions, Consequences, and Future Directions 6.1. Five approaches revisited 6.2. Issues and problems revisited 6.3. A more perspicuous conception  152 152 155 162  Bibliography  172  iv  A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S  I would like to thank the University of British Columbia for financial assistance during  my  graduate  program  in  the  form  of  the  H.R.  MacMillan  Fellowship. I also express my indebtedness to the Practical Reasoning  Family  Assessment  Project which provided the opportunity to do practical work and the context for intellectual stimulation as well as providing some income.  Members of my family also deserve thanks: my wife and children for putting up with vacant  gazes and peculiar preoccupations,  my parents  for their continuing  interest and support.  A number of friends and colleagues  at the University of British Columbia have  been of great help in wrestling with the ideas and words which make up this thesis. LeRoi Daniels originally stimulated my interest in mental concepts. Gaalen Erickson welcomed me into a group which helped keep me in touch with practical concerns  of educators.  Roland Case,  Linda Darling,  the  and Murray Ross  have made helpful comments on draft versions of this thesis. Jerrold Coombs has largely set  the  intellectual tone for this  sort  of work at  our institution. His  interests and insights formed the stimulus for this work; his careful and generous criticism of my work has many of the issues  forced me to clarify and reorganize my thinking on  discussed. Finally I would like to thank Shirley Parkinson  who has been a friend, a lending library, and a source of understanding. Her grasp of normative/social phenomena has helped rrfe greatly.  v  1. A P P R O A C H E S  TO CRITICAL  THINKING  A great deal of attention is being granted to questions of how people think. Such questions  are  being asked by researchers and practitioners  of many  persuasions and many different disciplines. In the field of education, much of the research and discussion has gone under the label of "critical thinking." There are several  different  conceptions  of  critical  thinking  employed  and  the  term  encompasses a wide variety of kinds of research and pedagogical strategies. I will argue that many of the existing conceptions of critical thinking are based on misunderstandings and unfounded assumptions and that, as a result, much of the research and some of the educational practices based on these conceptions are of dubious utility. In pointing out the deficiencies of existing work on critical thinking, I pa}'  particular  attention  to the issues of terminology and how  questions about critical thinking can be most productively framed. Because this thesis will not contain any new empirical data, and will make only sparing use of data collected by other researchers, there will be many interesting questions which will not be addressed. In particular, few conclusions about the effects of different educational strategies for improving the quality of thinking will be possible. The primary goal is to contribute to the ongoing development of a way of talking about thinking,  especially critical thinking,  which is intellectually  responsible and perspicuous from an educational point of view.  1  Approaches to Critical T h i n k i n g / 2 1.1.  FIVE  APPROACHES  As  a preliminary step  to  survey  existing  weaknesses.  For  conceptions  this  thinking. E a c h m a y significant  areas  i n developing a conception of critical thinking, it is and  purpose,  I  controversy.  incorporate elements  from more  research  and  elucidating key establishing a  will  identify  be found to encompass  of  programs,  understand  elements frame  teaching  five  broad  of their  some  researchers  of these approaches  strategies.  In  spite  strengths  perspectives  a considerable range  Further,  than one  something  of  useful and  on critical  of positions and and  practitioners  into their theories, these  complications,  in each of these conceptions will provide some means  of reference  by  which the  progress  of  of this inquiry can  be  traced.  For  simplicity of reference,  each of these conceptions will be named. Thej'  1.  the process  approach  2.  the problem solving approach  3.  the logic approach  are:  1  4. - the information processing approach, and 5. Each  of  the multi-aspect approach. these  will  be  problems related to the  The  first  approach  described  briefly,  then  some  of  the  major  issues  and  five conceptions will be discussed.  involves  the  identification of  T This use of 'process' should not be confused label approaches to philosophy of education A . N . Whitehead and John Dewey.  a  limited  number  of  processes  with the same word used based on the works  to of  Approaches to Critical Thinking / 3 which constitute thinking. It is thought by those who advocate this approach that students may, through practice, become skilled at these various processes. While there is disagreement  about the processes involved, some examples  are the  categories of Bloom's Taxonomy or such things as 'inferring,' 'classifying,' and 'hypothesizing' (Beyer, 1985, p. 76). This approach is widely adopted for use in elementary school programs.  The problem solving approach involves the identification of some set of steps which are held to lead to the solution of problems. Most often, these steps are derived from a reconstruction of scientific inquiry but some have attempted to establish the steps empirically, by examining how researchers in a variety of kinds of inquiry tend to proceed (Robinson, Ross, & White, 1985). In either case, the steps tend to resemble a Deweyan analysis of problem solving or reflective thinking, including such steps as  'feeling perplexity,' 'defining the problem,'  'gathering appropriate facts,' 'formulating hypotheses,' and 'testing hypotheses on the basis of deductive elaboration' (Dewey, 1939, p. 855).  The logic approach suggests that good thinking is to be understood as logical thinking. Students premises  are typically taught to identify such logical categories as  and conclusions,  to  convert  arguments  in ordinary  language  into  deductive form, and to find missing premises or assumptions. Also, considerable attention is devoted to the study of fallacies, both formal and informal. Most college and undergraduate university level programs in critical thinking adopt this approach.  Approaches to Critical Thinking / 4 The information processing approach is not restricted to programs in critical thinking but is popular among many researchers interested in cognitive science and artificial intelligence. Typically, this involves the analysis of 'thinking tasks' into component bits of information and requisite processing steps. These steps are derived by hypothesizing about how the information must be treated in order to account for competence  at various tasks (e.g. Shepard's study described in  Gardner, 1985, p. 324-5). Often, analogies to computer hardware and programs are used as explanatory models.  The multi-aspect approach is called by that name here because of Robert Ennis's influential anafysis of the constituent parts of critical thinking in terms of "aspects" (1967, 1980). He suggests that we can best understand critical thinking as the combination of a number of tendencies, abilities, and judgment. While Ennis and others have used various different terms to describe these various aspects (including inclinations, dispositions, or propensities for tendencies; and skills or proficiencies for abilities), under some set of names, this approach is shared by many philosophers of education who have written on this subject.  It is important for an understanding of the field to see that these approaches are not distinguished along any single dimension. The process approach, for instance, is largely an instructional strategy with little connection to serious research or theory development. The information processing approach, on the other hand, j£ shares assumptions and language with work in cognitive science and with philosophical theories such as functionaliSm, but is not clearly identified with particular teaching strategies.  Approaches to Critical Thinking / 5 From even a quick survey of these differing approaches, it may be seen that they are not, for the most part, mutually exclusive, that is, it is conceivable that  someone  approaches.  could accept elements  Some writers  do. Beyer,  drawn from two or more for instance,  of these  provides a table which  combines problem solving steps, "key critical thinking skills" described in terms similar to Ennis's aspects, and "micro-thinking skills" which are (largely) drawn from Bloom's taxonomy (1985, p. 76). Robert Sternberg suggests that there may be benefits when developing programs of testing to drawing upon more than one approach (1985, p. 41). While, in principle, there is nothing wrong with this, as the approaches are not competing answers for the same question so much as differing approaches to framing the inquiry, it should be realized that different and sometimes incompatible assumptions underly each of the general approaches. These assumptions will emerge in an account of the issues and problems in critical thinking.  1.2. ISSUES AND PROBLEMS  There is' no one issue which has dominated inquiry in the field of critical thinking so much as the question of generalizability or transfer. While the issue may come up in different language in each of the approaches, and it is more central to some approaches than others, there is a sense in which it is crucial to the whole idea of teaching for critical thinking as understood by all of these approaches. The advocates of each approach would like to show that what they teach has wide utility - that is, that by learning some basic rules, . skills, or procedures, students will be able to improve their performance in a wide range  Approaches to Critical Thinking / 6 of contexts in which thinking is required. This is most obvious in the case of those  who  advocate  the  process  approach.  Their  whole  approach  to  critical  thinking is based on the assumption that practice at tasks which require the use of certain mental processes will transfer or generalize to skillful performance in a wide variety buttons'  on  of contexts. Thus, the  assumption  that  students  are  what  they  given tasks learn  will  such have  as at  'classifying least  some  transfer to classifying other sorts of things.  Those who advocate  procedures  for problem solving are inclined to suggest that  students can learn to approach each problem as a series of steps. If they learn to do each of these steps, they will be able to solve problems 'in general.' should be  noted  that  advocates of this  approach  tend  to  treat  anything  (It one  wishes to do as a problem requiring solution, thus problem solving is taken to have extremely  wide application.)  out that all thinking, or at  Those who advocate  the  logic approach  point  least all purposive thinking, ought to conform to  logical standards, thus learning to think according to logical standards will apply to all situations  in which we want to think for a purpose.  solving, logic is often construed inductive logic as practical  well as  very generally  reasoning  so as  with conditionals  (As with problem  to include informal and and counterfactuals,  and  reasoning.)  Those who take the information processing or multi-aspect  approaches  are  more  inclined to see the the issue of generalizability as an open question. Information processing science,  theorists  and/or  expect that  psycho-linguistics  developments  in* artificial intelligence,  will  an  lead  to  understanding  of the  cognitive mental  Approaches to Critical Thinking / 7 mechanisms or functional states and information codes which make possible human cognition. Paul Wagner refers to this goal of cognitive science as being "to model the language of thought" and connects this project explicitly with those of Stephen Stich and Noam Chomsky (1988, p. 181). Such inquiries will, it is thought, demonstrate which aspects of thinking are common and which are specific to certain operations. Nonetheless, there is optimism that "thinking is general and cross-disciplinary" and "the process of thinking appears more and more to be discipline-blind" (Wagner,  1988, p. 182). Sternberg suggests that  although "transfer of training does not come easily" it is possible given that "explicit provisions are made in the program [of instruction] so as to increase its likelihood of occurrence" (1984, p. 48).  Those who advocate the multi-aspect approach have been the most inclined to debate this issue, rather than to assume or project that general skills or abilities exist  or can be found.  However, the debate  has been  characterized by  disagreement not only about whether the various aspects of critical thinking apply across different domains of knowledge and kinds of inquiry, but also about what we should accept as evidence in the debate. Ennis (1987) and Norris (1986) argue that, while there appear to be general abilities which are important and useful, the issue cannot be settled without empirical research. McPeck (1981) suggests that the issue is a conceptual one, that because the ability to think well about anything is largely an epistemoiogical affair, and because disciplines have different epistemic standards, thinking critically about anything is largely a matter of having knowledge and expertise  which is specific to a relevant  discipline. Significantly, this debate has focussed primarily on those aspects which  Approaches to Critical Thinking / 8 are described as 'skills' or 'abilities,' as opposed to tendencies or judgment.  One question worth considering is, "What difference does it make whether critical thinking is specific to each discipline (or other epistemological unit) or whether it is a more generalized capacity, skill, character trait, or what-have-you?" While somewhat different answers  would be given by those who adopt alternative  approaches, for many the issue is of vital importance. One reason for its importance is that instruction and research in critical thinking is often justified on the basis of efficiency. It is often suggested that there is so much knowledge in so many disciplines that no one can keep up. As the Royal Commission on Education in British Columbia puts it, "we live in an era in which knowledge is said to double approximately every two years..." (1988, p. 12). The best we can achieve is that students learn how to think well so that they will be well equipped to "process" information as they need it (e.g. Perkins, 1985,  p. 4).  Rather than spending time teaching students facts, it would be more efficient to teach students critical thinking skills, processes, or abilities. If these are found to be general, there is a prima facie reason for thinking that they can be learned independently of instruction in any particular content area. If they are found to be specific to content  areas, hopes for radical improvement in educational  efficiency would be reduced. In fact, it might be that current educational practices, based on instruction in subject areas, • might be as efficient an approach as any.  Thus, one possible rationale for believing that the" critical thinking movement will provide a major innovation in educational practice is linked with the notion that  Approaches to Critical Thinking / 9 there  is utility to general instruction in thinking. This is most obvious in the  process  approach to critical thinking. If  learn to classify or analyze in general  it is not the (as  case that  students  can  opposed to classifying or analyzing  particular sorts of things such as buttons, books, or conceptions) then there is no reason  for  pursuing the  educational practices  advocated.  Unfortunately for  the  process approach, this appears to be the case. Being able to classify one sort of thing  has  different  little or  are  if  any  being  knowledge of purposes  relation classified  with for  and relevant  classifying other  things  purposes.  criteria, there  which  Once  we  are  radically  account  for  is nothing left over to  be  accounted for by a general process or skill. Further, as Perkins notes, available empirical evidence suggests p.  that "skills tend to be rather context bound" (1985,  351).  While  the  programs  link is  not  between so  widespread tendency  generalizability  crucial  for  some  and of  the  usefulness other  of  critical thinking  approaches,  there  is  a  to regard the two as linked. This is unfortunate when it  leads to the unwarranted assumptions of the process approach or a more general failure to take seriously reasons programs  other than efficiency by which critical thinking  can be justified. Whether  it is the  case that  one becomes a good  thinker generally or in one area at a time, or whether the truth is somewhere -in between, critical thinking is a desirable educational aim.  Arising from the issue of generalizability is the further issue of completeness.  By  completeness, I refer to the to the issue of whether 'problem solving' or 'logic' is a reasonable description of all of what is important to thinking critically. On the  Approaches to Critical Thinking / 10 face of it, it would seem that critical thinking could be involved in coming to understand an issue or being sensitive to the existence of a problem, not simply in trying to solve problems. What is typically missing from the problem solving approach (including Dewey's formulations of the steps of reflective thinking) is reference to the standards and criteria by which the adequacy of performance is judged.  1  It should be noted also that there are better and worse solutions to  many kinds of problems and therefore, 'arriving at a solution' in itself, ought not be conflated with good or successful thinking.  Similarly, it would seem that much of modern philosophy of science calls into question the extent to which logical considerations can account for instances of good scientific thinking. The work of Nelson Goodman, for example, demonstrates limitations of syntactic considerations in accounting for our practices of inference for claims such as counterfactuals and conditionals (1979).  A more direct challenge to claims of those who adopt a logic approach is made by Gilbert Harman. He argues that "there is no clearly significant way in which logic  is specially relevant to reasoning" (1987, p. 20). This can be contrasted to  the claims of writers such as Robinson and Beyerstein who claim that "Logic is the systematic study of reasoning," and "Logic is the study of good reasoning the sort that is likely to lead a person to the truth" (1987, p. 5). While part T Leaving the entire weight of success at problem solving to be determined by testing of individual hypotheses is obviously inadequate. Without adequate hypotheses and adequate conceptualization, testing alone cannot ensure the adequacy of a solution. Some aspects of this point will be brought up in a discussion of Lakatos's reconstruction of scientific* knowledge in section 4.1. At present we might take note of the crucial importance of what Ennis refers to as "background purposes" in his account of the pragmatic dimension of critical thinking (1967, pp. 118-9).  Approaches to Critical Thinking / 11 of this disagreement may be terminological in that Harman counts only the rules of deductive argument as logic whereas Robinson and Beyerstein may include much more, including inductive reasoning, there does appear to be some ground for concern here.  1  In many, if not most contexts, it seems to be uncertainty or error about the premises, not the rules of implication, which prevent people from reaching well founded conclusions. Logic, on its usual interpretation, is not sufficient to preclude such problems. Further, and even more importantly, logic is of limited use in enabling people to make sense of the kinds of issues which are most often cited by educators as being the ultimate purpose for instruction in critical thinking, such  as  issues  involved with  "everyday"  practical  decision making or the  responsibilities associated with citizenship.  Such considerations call into question whether logical standards are sufficient to cover all aspects of the range of issues relevant to critical thinking. Significantly, the pedagogical  practices employed by many who adopt the logic approach  emphasize' explicit instruction in logical categories such as the identification of premises, argument forms, and fallacies. Thus, the further apparent assumption that explicit instruction condition of critical  in logical categories and standards  thinking, arises.  Initial consideration  is  a necessary  suggests that such  instruction is not even a necessary condition of logical thinking: surely no one would want to suggest that none of Aristotle's thinking was logical, yet Aristotle . Even if we do not accept Harman's relatively radical position, we may agree with Coombs that "although practical reasoning has the structure of deductive argument, it is not primarily a matter of deducing what to do from a set of unquestioned premises" (1984, p. 7).  Approaches to Critical Thinking / 12 is generally credited with providing the first systematic approach to understanding logic. Obviously, there was no one who could give him explicit instruction in these categories. This being the case, the strongest claim which advocates of the logic approach can hope to establish is that instruction in logic is generally useful in contributing to good reasoning on the part of students. Notice this is an  empirical claim. Its  significance depends  on whether  there  are other  approaches which are equally effective.  Another  issue  which is particularly relevant  to evaluating the information  processing is whether or not there is a clear and broadly applicable way of distinguishing having information from being able to process information. Some who adopt this approach seem to simply assume that there is a clear and obvious distinction (e.g. Sternberg, 1981 or Nickerson 1981). That we should not accept an unproblematic separation between having the ability to process and having information simpliciter is made evident in the debate over 'knowing that' and 'knowing how'. Given sufficient contextual information, claims about what someone knows (what information they have) warrant inferences about what they can do (including what they can figure out or otherwise 'process') (Ryle, 1966; Martin, 1961; Selman, 1988a, p. 174). As is commonly accepted in educational testing, what someone can do may be perfectly acceptable evidence for what she or he knows, given certain knowledge of contextual factors. Recognition of this close link between 'having knowledge' and 'being able,' and the importance of context in the drawing of related inferences, ought to make us wary of claims that thinking 'processes'  (or 'abilities' for that * matter) can be characterized  independently of context and content.  Approaches to Critical Thinking / 13 This problem is exemplified in Sternberg's "process based approach" used to "to identify the mental processes used to solve [an] analogy" (1984, p. 40). The example analogy is "Washington is to one as Lincoln is to (a) five, (b) 15, (c) 20, (d) 50." As is particularly clear to any non-American, one's ability to draw the analogy is dependent on having certain information. Further, it is dependent on familiarity with the context, i.e. such factors  as, people who  construct such analogies in these situations are not likely to be testing for esoteric knowledge, therefore the 'correct' solution is not likely to hinge on the number of children each president had or the number of times each visited a particular town, but rather on more commonly known facts. Sternberg says that we must, in order to solve the analogy, "decide what processes to use," "how to sequences these processes," then "use the performance components and strategy we have selected to ... solve the problem." But unless we lack the requisite knowledge, and the relevant strategies involve seeking out further information, it is not clear that we do select processes or sequences. Rather, possibilities suggest themselves and solutions occur to us, on the basis of what we know. In section 2.1 and 2.2, I will discuss further the issue of whether such changes in belief or intention are reasonably characterized as the result of particular processes, arguing that neither the general term 'thinking,' nor more specific terms such as 'deciding,' are names for processes.  Proponents of the information processing approach often speak as if knowing, or having information, is being in possession of something inert which must be "processed" in order to be useful. But in ordinary language claims about knowledge (including propositional knowledge), when conjoined with facts about the  Approaches to Critical Thinking / 14 context, warrant inferences about abilities. Sternberg and others appear to assume that it is the use of particular processes, as distinguished from what is known, which makes thinking critical. I will argue, especially in sections 3.2, 3.3, and 3.4, that this is a confusion resulting, at least in part, from a failure to distinguish between the language of causal explanation and the language of rules, standards, and procedures used in connection with rule-governed activities.  Another important issue in the field of critical thinking is the extent to which our conceptions of critical thinking as well as related programs of instruction and evaluation can be objective in the sense of being free from bias with regard to any particular cultural, ideological, or moral perspective. Sternberg suggests that there is empirical evidence that cultural groups differ extensively in how they approach certain sorts of tasks which are commonly taken as measures of mental ability, and in their judgments about how such tasks ought to be done (1983, p. 8). On this basis, he argues  that programs aimed at improving  people's thinking are appropriate only for certain cultures. Ennis argues (as a tentative  conclusion) that we should "expect no correlation  between critical  thinking and political, social, and moral values" once we "partial out" factors such as mental ability as measured by I.Q. tests, age, instruction, personality type, and social class (1967, p. 145). While Ennis does not refer specifically to cultural differences, it seems reasonable to accept that these are closely related to such things as "social values" and that Ennis and Sternberg are expressing opposing viewpoints.  1  T Although Sternberg is an influential proponent of the information processing approach and Ennis has developed the multi-aspect approach, this disagreement is not intrinsic to these approaches.  Approaches to Critical Thinking / 15 Let us consider Ennis's position. Leaving aside the problematic suggestion that we could detach "political, social, and moral values" from factors such as mental ability as measured by I.Q. tests, social class, and personality type, there is a further question regarding the extent to which any conception of critical thinking or program of instruction and evaluation can avoid reflecting purposes, background interests, and assumptions common to a particular time and culture, including social and political values. When put this way, the obvious response seems to be that no conception can avoid representing the interests and values of a particular time and place. Ennis recognized, in his 1967 conception, that his decision to exclude the assessment of a certain category of statements from his conception was based on certain values. It was so "that prediction and control over students' behavior [could] be facilitated" (1967, p. 137). This choice, to emphasize the value of a conception as a means for prediction and control of students' behaviour over, for instance, a less easily applied but more complete conception, clearly reflects the interests of a particular culture at a particular point in history.  1  More broadly, one can see that Ennis's 1967 conception displays an interest in certain kinds of problems and issues, especially issues of logic and scientific reasoning. Considerably less attention is given to issues in political, aesthetic, religious, metaphysical, and moral domains. But consider how someone • from a 2  . Even if prediction and control are universal values, common to all cultures in one form or another, as Taylor (1982) argues, their pursuit has not always been taken as more important than the pursuit of other values, such as completeness in the sense used above. . While this emphasis may in part be due to Ehnis's explicit exclusion (at that time) of value claims from consideration, it is not the case that we can examine scientific statements without reference to values whereas statements of a political nature are value laden. 1  2  Approaches to Critical Thinking / 16 somewhat different culture and with a different set of political commitments might develop a conception of critical thinking. If, for instance, Habermas were to develop a conception of critical thinking based on his notion of "communicative rationality" (1979), one would expect to see somewhat different emphases. As an example, sensitivities to the range of speech acts found acceptable for use by different people in any given context might be a part of such a conception. The differences  between  Ennis's  conception  and  the  hypothetical  Habermasian  conception would be (at least in part) a result of differences in social and cultural values. Programs of instruction and evaluation which were based on such different conceptions would reflect such differences. Just as Ennis and Habermas are  inclined to  find certain  sorts  of problems  and issues  interesting and  important, so would students engaged in such programs. Surely someone who thinks that the interesting and important problems of our time will be most productively addressed by scientific advances is going to react differently from someone who is primarily concerned with issues of political power and social inequity.  While it is recognized that such differences  are  possible between  individuals as well as cultures, they are certainly affected by cultural differences and it seems reasonable to suppose that they would be reflected in performance at at least some of the different tasks implied by each conception of critical thinking.  This is not to suggest that all attempts to be unbiased in teaching and judging critical thinking are bound to present a narrowly ideological viewpoint or that every critical thinking test item will discriminate* according to the test taker's political stance. It does suggest that there are limits to how much we can  Approaches to Critical Thinking / 17 disentangle our views about critical thinking and rationality from our general worldview and background purposes, including social and political values. It seems more reasonable to defend choices about conceptions and programs of critical thinking on the basis that they reflect political, moral, or metaphysical views that we accept and for which we are willing to argue, rather than to suggest that they are neutral with regard to such views. Naturally, the question of how and on what grounds, we can argue for such positions is a crucial one. It will be discussed in sections 4.2 and 4.3.  Most writers in the field of critical thinking have seemed unwilling to take such a stance. Typically, thej' have tried to establish an approach which avoids expressing  commitment  to  any  particular  worldview or  set  of background  purposes. In our society, we have two ideals of knowledge which is disengaged from any particular cultural or political perspective. One is exemplified by the fields of logic and mathematics, the other by the physical sciences. It is no coincidence, I suggest, that many proponents of each of the conceptions attempt to derive an objective foundation for their approach through its relation to logic or science. (I ignore here the process approach for which I know of no serious attempt to provide a theoretic or philosophical underpinning.)  Thus, at least some of those who advocate a logic approach make exaggerated claims for the importance of logic to good thinking generally, perhaps partly to avoid dealing with more obviously value laden areas. Logic seems' to provide an objective means of evaluating arguments  and cSnclusions and this objectivity  seems to be valued more highly than a more complete or realistic view of either  Approaches to Critical Thinking / 18 critical thinking or logic itself. Similarly, the problem solving approach emphasizes the importance of a scientific or quasi-scientific procedure, with little attention to the standards and purposes which are required to make sense of critical thinking. Advocates of the information processing approach are explicit about their faith in science, sometimes obscuring the normative and intentional aspects of their objects of study by using the language of processes and representations (e.g. Sternberg and Baron, 1985, p. 42).  1  Proponents  of the  multi-aspect  approach to  critical thinking are  harder to  categorize with regard to this issue. While I have raised objections to Ennis's suggestion that critical thinking tests based on his conception will be neutral (or will avoid correlating) with "political, social and moral values," Ennis is certainly not after an account which avoids the use of explicitly normative and intentional terms.  His references  to  "background purposes"  and to the  importance of  judgment, all make this clear. The same cannot be said about Stephen Norris who shares Ennis's general approach. Norris suggests that only scientific research can enable us to "say what we mean by" mental abilities or processes, by showing "how these processes arise from mental structures" (1986, p. 82). I will argue that the meaning of common mental concepts ought to be explained in terms of what we do and how we act not simply in terms of what goes on inside our heads.  T Bynormative terms I a m referring to terms which express judgment according to standards including standards of rationality and epistemic standards. By mental terms I am referring to such terms as beliefs, desires, intentions, and purposes.  Approaches to Critical Thinking / 19 1.3.  In  SUMMARY AND  reviewing five  emerged.  A  PLAN  major  approaches  to  critical  thinking, several  preliminary exploration of these issues  has  issues  pointed out  have  problems  which, in some cases, have seriously undermined one or more of the approaches. This is most obvious in the case of the process approach which can be seen to rest  on the  unwarranted assumption that  there  are  a  few  general  processes  which can be learned by practice and applied generally across different  contexts  and areas of knowledge. The logic approach has been seen to be more limited than is indicated by the claims of some of its proponents as has the problem solving approach. While nothing here  has  instruction  in the  in some  arguments  or  rules  of logic or  addressing  problematic  been  said to impugn the general  situations,  heuristics  neither  of  utility  of  for clarifying  these  approaches  appears adequate as a conception of critical thinking.  It has been suggested that a desire for an objective foundation for claims about thinking has  led most researchers  who have  adopted an information processing  approach, and some who adopt a multi-aspect approach, to postulate internal  processes  that  not  only  explain  good  thinking but  a set  of  can  be  which  inculcated though training in order to improve thinking. As will be explored in more  detail,  'processes'  there  is  considerable  and 'abilities' as  they  vagueness are  and  ambiguity  used in discussions  in  the  terms  of critical thinking.  Further, the concept of 'judgment' has been mentioned as an essential part of the  multi-aspect  instructional  approach,  objective,  as  but  one  something  which for  has  which  been we  virtually  could test,  ignored as or  even  as  an a  Approaches to Critical Thinking  / 20  potential object of inquiry.  The  project of this dissertation is to develop a responsible position with regard  these  problematic  issues,  philosophical work  and  the  a  position  most basic  many  thinking  and  takes  cognizance  purposes which  interest in critical thinking. Thus, the at the  which  motivate  dissertation will not be  of  the  to  relevant  widespread  directed primarily  important practical problems facing those implementing critical  programs,  but  rather  at  issues  involving  basic  assumptions  and  conceptualization.  The  aim  of the next chapter will be  clarify the  to examine the concept of thinking and  purposes which motivate such inquiry. Such moves will be  avoiding premature commitment to a particular conception, and to engage with fundamental issues  and  assumptions. The  that thinking ought to be studied, for our  to  useful in  the risk of failure  chapter's conclusion is  purposes, as a normative activity  and  a social practice.  The  third chapter explores  of view. This  the consequences of studying  approach is compared  to  that  thinking from this point  taken by  language of internal mechanisms, processes, and  those who  representations  employ  the  to explain critical  thinking.  The  fourth  chapter is used to cast light on  kinds of standards which  are  first  is that  relationship  explored  used  the  relationships between different  in making judgments between  creative  and  about reasoning.  The  critical  The  thinking.  Approaches to Critical Thinking / 21 second  is that  between  practical  and theoretic  reasoning. In each  case, some  examples of waj'S in which misconstrual of these relationships has contributed to misunderstandings from  discussion  which new  about  the nature  of the second  of critical  relationship  thinking  are examined. Emerging  is an argument  about  the limits to  theories and critiques of our existing understanding of rationality can  be disengaged  from  our ordinary, practical understanding of what good reasoning  is.  The fifth chapter explicates a conception of rules and normative such  a  implied  developed by  conception  the claim  that  is crucial those  to being  concerned  concerned with thinking as a normative  with  able  understanding critical  the role  of background  thinking, and for understanding  to understand  critical  thinking  activity. It is argued  offered has implications for distinguishing causal from purposes  (to borrow  what is  ought  to be  that the conception  normative  what judgment  activities. Having  explanation,  for  Ennis's  phrase) in  is and how  it can be  taught.  The  final  chapter  revisits  the approaches  and  issues raised  in this  chapter,  concluding with some remarks about the implications for teachers and educational theorists and philosophers.  2. WHAT IS THINKING?  Having  begun  with  a  rehearsal  of some  of the  major  approaches  to critical  thinking research and instruction and related issues and problems, it will now be useful to grant explicit attention to a question which has often been overlooked or treated as as one of minor consequence.  The question is, "What is thinking?"  This question is important, not so much because an answer to it will tell us how  to proceed, as because hasty acceptance of an inadequate  answer  may prejudge  possible  ambiguities  important issues. in  the  question  This chapter itself  and  'thinking' which make it difficult to characterize.  will  or inappropriate  proceed by clarifying  describing This will  some  aspects  of  be followed by  an  examination of the purposes which underly inquiry into thinking, purposes which must be taken into account if we are to arrive at a perspicuous answer to the question about thinking. Once we have some understanding of the most promising way(s) to provide an initial characterization  of thinking, we ought to be better  equipped to answer questions about what kind of thinking is, or can be, critical.  2.1. THE NATURE OF THINKING  When we ask what thinking is, we face a certain ambiguity. This ambiguity can be  expressed- by  responses subject,  if we ask,  "What  is science?"  a  large  number  of  seem possible. Science is a profession or group of professions, a school a  phenomena,  1  analogy:  form of inquiry, a body "any activity that  appears  of knowledge,  an  explanation  of  to require' study and method"  1  natural and so  . from the McGraw-Hill Heritage Illustrated Dictionary of the English Language. 22  What is thinking? / 23 on. Each could be said to answer the question from a particular point of view. Which point of view should be taken is determined by the context in which the question is asked. In order to answer the question usefully, it will be important to keep in mind the purposes which gave rise to the question in the first place.  If there is no single correct answer to the question about science, the question about thinking is clearly even more open to a multiplicity of interpretations. Not only do we use the word 'think' in many different ways, but we face the further problem that thinking seems to be peculiarly obscure. This apparent obscurity is often cited by writers about thinking as by Diane F. Halpern in Thought and Knowledge: An Introduction to Critical Thinking:  "It seems that most  people have little awareness of the nature or even the existence of the thinking processes that underlie their judgments, beliefs, inferences, and conclusions about complex issues (Nisbett & Wilson, 1977)" (1984, p. 15). Many times we seem only to infer that thinking is going on on the basis of overt and visible signs. Even when we consider our own thinking it seems singularly difficult to convey to others the true quality of our thoughts. Thoughts seem ephemeral and only sometimes subject to our conscious control.  These and other problems have led many writers to despair of providing an adequate definition of thinking. Too often, this abandonment of the problem has been accompanied by an uncritical acceptance of an inadequate or misleading characterization.  Thinking  has been  phenomenon, or an innate capacity.  discussed  as  a  skill,  a  process,  a  Critical thinking has been discussed as  problem solving, information processing, facility with interpreting and evaluating  What is thinking? / 24 arguments,  the  exercise of skills and propensities,  abilities, tendencies,  and judgment.  and as  the  Surprisingly, considering that  writers are quick to point out the need to be aware  combination  of  many of these  of unstated  assumptions,  very little consideration is given to the assumptions embodied in each of these purported answers to the question about the nature of thinking.  If  we  are  to  proceed  with  addressing  this  question  in  any  non-arbitrary way, it will be necessary to make some of the would have need  to  to make in answering the  establish  appropriate question  the  purposes  and  and useful answers.  we  are  trying to  context  It  is  which  will  and  same moves we  similar question about science.  We must  answer.  useful  the  most  also be careful  about exactly  what  clear  question,  that  determine  We will  the  "What  is  thinking?" is very closely related to the question "What does the word 'thinking' mean?" There is, however, a widespread inclination to think that there is another question or another meaning of the first question which we ought to be able to answer. Beyond a question about the meaning, of the word, which seems to be simply  a matter  of agreement about  a convention and is  often dismissed  as  being "arbitrary" by those interested in 'getting behind' the question of meaning, there is a question about the nature of the phenomenon itself. Before considering the  purposes  which  determine  how  we  can  most  appropriately  answer  the  question, "What is thinking?" I would like to critically examine the notion that we  can  get  assumptions misleads  the  behind  the  which prejudge inquiry from  question some the  required, if only because many  of  meaning  of the start.  I  by  showing  very issues take  philosophers  it  that  it  embodies  we need to discuss, and  that  such  and psychologists  an  argument  have  taken  is for  What is thinking? / 25 granted that thinking is a phenomenon (or a process), the nature of which is to be discovered by conducting empirical research states.  into people's  mental events and  1  There  are  two confusions  phenomenon  embedded in the  notion that  of thinking independently of what  the  we could examine  word thinking means.  the The  first is a very general epistemological point. Knowledge of the world is mediated b3 conceptual schemes. We cannot stud}' the world in any pre-conceptualized or r  non-conceptualized way. If identify instances  thinking is  simply  serve be  phenomenon instances  the  only way we could  of the phenomenon is by appeal to the meaning of 'thinking'.  It is not the case, as has thinking,  a phenomenon,  as  assumed  labels  sometimes  been  assumed, that  all words, including  for natural categories of things.  that  there  which could be  are  features  discovered  and  or  used  Thus,  aspects to  of  identify  it must the  them  not  purported as  being  of thinking apart from the fact that they are identified bj' our use of  the word. To think that it can be so assumed is to believe that the world is, by  its  systems  nature, may  divided  up into  correspond.  2  certain  At least  categories  since  Kant,  to  which human  it has  been  conceptual  recognized  that  T That many philosophers and psychologists have treated thinking as a particular phenomenon or process is evident in even the briefest survey of theories about thinking. Some of the most influential examples are: Plato's notion that thinking consists of inner dialogue or the inspection of the Forms; the Kantian notion that thinking involves bringing concepts before the mind; and, Hume's idea that thinking is experiencing a sequence of images some of which are connected by habit. Almost all prominent psychologists writing about thinking and critical thinking refer to thinking as a process. The fact that "the process of thinking" has been construed in many different ways ought to serve as a warning that there is something odd about the notion that thinking is "a process." That the nature of thinking is something which can be empirically discovered is assumed by Stephen Norris, see footnote following. . There are some philosophers who believe that some classes of concepts, especially those which refer to 'natural kinds' such as 'gold,' have a meaning 2  What is thinking? / 26 conceptual  schemes  are observer  what is being observed. schemes  are  Since  underdetermined  dependent,  regardless  Quine, it has been by  any combination  of their  relationship to  recognized that of  characteristics  conceptual of the  observer and the world. Conceptual systems are (at least partly) conventional and simply cannot be determined by facts about the world. The meaning of individual concepts and even the truth value of individual sentences can always be 'saved' or changed by adjusting other parts of the conceptual scheme. The conclusion is obvious: empirical research cannot determine the reference of 'thinking' apart from its place in our linguistic practices.  It should be added that our concepts English usage  are not immutable, nor is contemporary  the only possible or the best determiner  of the categories  into  which inquiry can take place. In developing theories it may be useful to stipulate definitions and create new terms use.  It should be remembered,  which do not correspond to those however, that  our purposes  in current  and the questions  with which we initiate our inquiries often rely on ordinary language concepts. If our problem is to understand how thinking can be improved, for instance, our solution will not really be a solution to that problem unless it employs 'thinking' in the same sense as the question does. Since the questions being discussed in this thesis are of general interest, rather than being of interest only within one (cont'd) which is discovered as we discover (empirically) their essential nature. I know of no one who has argued, rather than assumed or implied, that 'thinking' is such a natural kind concept. Many have assumed it however. Stephen Norris is one example: according to Norris, claims about critical thinking ability are "categorical claims about people's either genetically or environmentally determined natures." Such abilities are "mental powers [which] arise from mental structures and processes in the same way that physical powers (magnetism is an example) arise from the internal structures and processes of physical objects." He also refers to "mental ability 'sort of stuff which is responsible for ... behaviours" (1986, p. 81). 0  What is thinking? / 27 particular philosophical or psychological theory, I take it that the public, shared concept of thinking, rather than any more specialized conception or stipulated meaning, ought to guide the inquiry.  Because this point has been widely ignored, it will be useful to consider an example. Consider the notion of intelligence. Psychologists require a means of quantifying intelligence if they are to use differences in intelligence as an explanatory something  factor 'more  in success (or lack of it) at various tasks. scientific'  than  the rather  vague  They need  and context dependent  judgments which English language speakers ordinarily use. But all attempts to produce more reliable criteria have produced results of questionable validity. The intransigence of these problems led E.G. Boring to the somewhat desperate suggestion that intelligence is whatever it is that intelligence tests measure.  1  This suggestion is, of course, incoherent in an important sense. Without an independent notion of intelligence we have no way of deciding whether something is or is not an intelligence test. The result of. accepting the suggestion would be that any test which claimed to measure intelligence would be as valid as any other, regardless of the relationship between the results it produced and what we ordinarily take 'intelligence' to mean.  As Michael Chapman has argued, Wittgenstein's distinction between "symptoms" and "criteria" is useful in being clear about these matters, and has often been ignored (1987, pp. 111-117). A criterion of a concept is a phenomenon which exists in a rule-governed relation to the concept. Typically, criteria are the  1  . cited by Michael Chapman (1987, p. 115).  What is thinking? / 28 phenomena by which the concept is learned. For example, having trouble keeping your eyes open is a criterion of 'being sleepy.' Being able to follow instructions or make appropriate responses are criteria of understanding a language.  There are, however, other phenomena which typically 'go along with' the state of being tired or the ability to understand a language. The phenomenon of parsing sentences according to semantic units rather than according to levels of acoustic energy, which Fodor claims is true only of competent language users, is a good example  (1968, p. 79-85). Such a phenomenon is a symptom. Unless our  linguistic practices regarding  the grammar  of the concept 'understanding a  language' were to change on the basis of Fodor's discoveries, "parsing according to semantic units" would not be part of what the concept expresses. Notice that if "parsing by semantic  units" did become  a criterion of "understanding a  language" we could not ask sensibly whether, in general, people who parsed, understood  -  except  as  a  question  of meaning.  "Parsing"  would imply  "understanding" whether or not it was shown, to correlate with other senses of 'understanding a language.'  Often, scientists alter the use of concepts by using symptoms as if they were criteria. This causes no problem if all involved remember that any conclusions apply only to the 'new' concept and not the concept in public use, but usually the questions which initiate the inquiry employ, and are interesting because of, the ordinary use. Sometimes, however, the 'new' use is taken to reveal what the concept 'really meant' all along. If our concept of understanding a language were reduced to "parsing according to semantic units" much of our motivation for  What is thinking? / 29 wanting to understand the concept would be lost.  The second confusion involved in construing "What is thinking?" as a question about the nature of a phenomenon is that thinking is not a phenomenon. All 2  instances of thinking are not identified by their sensory characteristics, and this is true for both my own thinking and that of others. No particular emotion, sensation, behaviour, mood, series of mental events under any description, or anything else, seems to identify all instances of thinking. Notice that this is not merely a matter of polymorphy in the sense that Ryle identifies 'obeying' as ' As an additional point which, though not relevant specifically to the debates in critical thinking, is important to the broader debate about how mental concepts are to be understood, it should be noted that many attempts to operationalize mental concepts are characterized by a failure to escape reliance on concepts involving meaning, norms, or intentionality. In this hypothetical example, an explication of "parsing according to semantic units" would, of course, require reference to meaning and standards of intelligibility. Putnam demonstrates how even radical reductionists such as Paul Stich and the Churchlands are unwilling/unable to eliminate all intention-laden concepts as they would have us eliminate all connotations of intention from our vocabulary of mental terms (Putnam, 1988, pp. 57-60). . Curiously, Alan White, who is aware of the large range of uses of the words 'thought' and 'thinking,' suggests that the question "What is thought?" can be a philosophical question about meaning or a psychological question about a phenomenon (1967, p. 87). The question we might ask is, "What phenomenon is to be studied?" Consider Wittgenstein: I would like to say: Psychology deals with certain aspects of human 2  life.  Or: with certain phenomena. - But the words 'thinking', 'fearing', etc., etc. do not refer to these phenomena (Remarks on the Philosophy of  And:  Psychology, Volume II, Paragraph 35).  Thinking cannot be called a phenomenon, but one can speak of 'phenomena of thinking', and everyone will know what phenomena are meant (RPP, II, Para. 31). The extent to which Wittgenstein believed thinking to be a linguistic, rather than a 'natural' category is also evident in: No one can think a thought for me in the way that no one can don my hat  for me (Culture and Value, p.  2e).  (Further references to works by Wittgenstein will be by abbreviated title and, where applicable, to paragraph or section numbers.)  What is thinking? / 30 polymorphic. For, while it is true that instances of obeying do not share any physical characteristic (or morphology) - that is, it is not possible to identify instances of obeying in physical object language, it is possible to characterize what it is to obey in terms of concepts like rules and commands. Thinking, on the other hand, is used in such diverse ways as to defy straightforward characterization in any single language game.  It is important to note that our inability to specify what makes something an instance of thinking, in general, as opposed to what makes for an instance in a specific context, is not simply a matter of having insufficient knowledge of the mechanisms of the brain or an inadequate understanding of the relationship between mind and brain. It is not an empirical problem which could be solved if we could see inside a brain while someone was thinking. Neural events in the brain have no more claim to be thinking than human actions have. They certainly cannot be what we really mean by thinking as that would imply we would never really know what someone was thinking except during brain surgery of a type not developed yet. Consider the following sentences: 1.  Sorry, I did it without thinking.  2.  I didn't think much of that lecture.  3.  I think she can do it.  4.  I think I'll wait a few more minutes.  5.  I can think of an answer.  6.  I need some time to think about it.  7.  I can't think of her name.  8.  I can't stop thinking about it.  What is thinking? / 31 9.  I'm thinking about that fish I almost caught.  10.  I had to think hard to understand what she meant.  Notice that many of these sentences could be used in a variety of contexts to mean rather different things. Is it even plausible that these sentences are used to  refer  to  any  single  kind  of  event  or  sequence  of  events,  either  phenomenological or in the structure of the brain? Is there any common pattern of sensory events associated with all, or even most of these uses of the term?  One of the ways in which philosophers and psychologists have dealt with unwieldly vagueness  and ambiguitjr of 'thinking' as an object of research,  the is to  identify, either explicitly or implicitly, different senses of thinking, and to treat one sense as if it were the name for a particular phenomenon or process. Most frequently, thinking in the sense that it is used to refer to engagement in trying to  solve  a problem is identified as  the  'kind' of thinking of concern.  should be clear that problem solving is not a phenomenon or a process Whether  or  not  someone  is  trying  to  solve  a  problem  is  not  But it either.  (generally)  determined according to whether certain sets of events are taking place. While it may  be  the  case that  solving certain  particular sequence of operations  sorts  of problems  typically involves  a  (as in long division) there are many kinds of  problems for which there are no recognizable steps. Certain procedures, such as Dewey's list of steps, may have relatively wide utility, but none is sufficient to produce  solutions.  A l l of the  steps in such procedures  can  be  done well  or  poorly. None is required in every case. And given the range of human problems, from needing the solution to a math problem or a* way to respond to an insult, to deciding on a career change  or the extent of one's obligation to those less  What is thinking? / 32 fortunate, it seems unreasonable to suppose that any set of steps, mental events, or brain states, is involved in all cases.  1  Undoubtably, it may be useful to focus our attention on certain uses of 'thinking' for certain purposes, but a degree of caution is required. As has been pointed out, we should not take for granted that any or all senses of the word 'think' are labels for particular phenomena or processes. It should also be noted the  different senses are  not related  the  way that  'bank'  as  that  in riverbank, is  related to 'bank' as in a place to borrow money. 'Thinking' is not one label which is used to express  several concepts  so much as one multi-faceted concept  which has a wide variety of uses. The different senses of 'thinking' are closelyrelated and it is not always easy or necessary to distinguish one from the other. Though, as the example sentences cited above indicate, 'think' may, in context, be used to mean a variety of things including attend, approve, believe, intend, come up with, figure out, remember,  worry, daydream, and cogitate,  these are  not a list of the constitutive parts of thinking the way that planting, weeding, pruning, etc., 'Believing'  form a list of the constitutive parts of the activity of gardening.  that  something  is  the  case, 'attending'  to  something,  and 'figuring'  something out, to pick three of the multiple senses of 'thinking,' do not function in similar ways in our language.  Believing is not an activity one engages in  over time as figuring may be. One can make a mistake in figuring, but not in attending. One can attend well or poorly but not believe  well or poorly. Yet,  each of 'believing,' 'attending,' and 'figuring out,' has its own multiple senses as is evident in the difficulty encountered by anyone who has tried to explicate the . In general, there is a further problem in distinguishing task and achievement senses of the terms such as problem solving, which will be discussed below. 1  What is thinking? / 33 rules which govern our use of these concepts.  But,  in spite of their differences, each of these senses of thinking is related to  the other senses.  1  What one believes is obviously related to what one will be  able to figure out and how one will proceed. 'Paying attention' or 'having one's attention  drawn' to certain  important part  of  features  solving or  of a problem or a  coming to  understand  it,  situation may be as  is  an  evident in the  so-called Meno paradox. Often, our use of thinking does not distinguish clearly between  these various senses. If I say, for instance,  that I can think of an  answer, I have not declared whether I am able to do so because I  remember  something or because I know how to figure out what the answer is.  What this suggests  is that it may not be useful to restrict the inquiry to a  particular sense in which the word thinking is used. Nonetheless, the purposes of our  inquiry ought to be useful in determining which point of view we ought to  take toward 'thinking'. It is to be expected that the point of view taken will render some of the senses of thinking more  salient  than others.  Armed  with  some idea, however vague, of the sort of concept with which we are concerned, we can turn now to the question raised earlier regarding the purposes of this inquiry.  . Wittgenstein suggests, with reference to inquiry into the varied nature of our mental lives: "The treatment of all these phenomena of mental life is not of importance to me because I am keen on completeness. Rather because each one casts light on the correct treatment of all.[Z 465]" (RPP II, Para. 311). 1  What is thinking? / 34 2.2. THE PURPOSES OF INQUIRY INTO THINKING  Good or rational thinking has long been a goal of educators. Educators are expected to teach more than facts, judgments, and conclusions; they are expected to prepare students to go beyond the examples offered in class - to conduct their own inquiries, to make their own judgments, and draw their own conclusions. That members of a community should be able to do these sorts of things is tied up with a whole complex of our fundamental values including the notions of autonomy, democracy, equality, and freedom of thought and speech, among others. At an even more basic level, being able to arrive at true or well founded beliefs is fundamental to achieving our purposes, including continued survival. In the words of William James: If I am lost in the woods and starved, and find what looks like a cow-path, it is of the utmost importance that I should think of a human habitation at the end of it.... The true thought is useful here because the house which is its object is useful. The practical value of true ideas is thus primarily derived from the practical importance of their objects to us (1955, p 134). For these reasons, among others, I take it the value of seeing things clearly, or 'for what they are', being able to reason to correct or well founded conclusions, and coming to reasonable judgments and decisions, is unquestionable.  1  . As I have argued elsewhere (1988b), one cannot really offer a justification of rationality or critical thinking without presupposing the standards which one is trying to justify. 1  What is thinking? / 35 Notice the use of value terms in the last sentence. terms  cannot be omitted. There  deciding except  in. so  far  as  It is important that these  is no value in seeing, concluding, judging, or they  have  epistemic  value, that  is, that  they  generally lead to beliefs, values, and actions which meet certain standards and in the long run, serve our purposes. Illusions, false beliefs, distorted values, and ill-chosen actions tend to be counter-productive. This leads us to the conclusion that,  contrary  to  much  sloganeering  and  the  titles  of  many  workshops for  teachers, we are not trying to teach students to think. A n y degree of care with the  language  suggests  that  educators  ought  to  be  concerned  with  teaching  students to think well. While this seems like a rather modest point, it does have two  important consequences.  First, it means  that claims to have recognized or  identified relevant instances of thinking will be normative judgments. To use an analogy, recognizing which examples of thinking ought to serve as models and which ought to be avoided will be more like recognizing seaworthy boats than it will  like recognizing square-rigged boats.  detail in the following sections,  Second,  some uses  as  will  be  explored in more  of thinking do not refer to things  which are appropriately judged against standards and will therefore, be ruled out as the primary objects of this inquiry.  Speaking very generally, we are interested in thinking as it is related to changes in  beliefs  and intentions, • including the degrees  of confidence or certainty  with  which they are held. One word which is commonly used to refer to much of what is involved in changes  of belief and intention is 'reasoning.' The  cases of reasoning involve deliberate  attempts  to* answer  a  clearest  question, solve  a  problem, or sort out a confusion. Many changes in belief and intention are not  What is thinking? / 36 like this however. Often, one changes his or her mind without deliberating or thinking about it. M y eye is caught by a clock in a window and I realize that I'd better get going if I am going to be home in time to make dinner. A l l this may happen instantaneously, without any effort or 'willing' on my part. (I may in fact wish that I hadn't noticed the clock.)  Some have assumed that cases of this sort imply that thinking must be a very fast process which can take place subconsciously or tacitly. Such an explanation, however, goes beyond the  facts.  For  purposes  of this inquiry, it will  not be  assumed that some such series of events takes place. It is simply suggested that there are some cases of changing beliefs and intentions which do not seem to involve reasoning in the sense of a deliberative attempt to think things through. Either because of natural capacities or training, people are sensitive or receptive to events in their environment. Such cases are important because thinking clearly or responsibly often involves noticing significant features and drawing appropriate inferences. certain  Training or other  kinds of experience  aspects of our environment  attentiveness  and there  are  do affect our standards  sensitivity to  of awareness  or  which we expect people to live up to. That there are consequences  for failure to modify one's action on the basis of a stop sign or a flashing blue light is evidence  kinds of thinking in which we  are  interested will not be limited to the deliberative or to conscious reflection.  The  'thinking'  in  of this fact. Thus, the  which we  are  interested  may  or  may  not  take  the  form  of  sequences of phenomenological events.  Given that concern about the quality of students' thinking is based in a desire  What is thinking? / 37 that they be able to hold their beliefs and form their intentions on a rational basis in a wide variety of contexts, it is important to recognize some differences between encouraging students  to be good thinkers and, for example, good  high-jumpers. As has already been pointed out, thinking well is not a matter of engaging in a particular series of mental steps. Nor is it clear that there is anything equivalent in mental and character development to the notion of muscular development. But there is another difference. A great high-jumper is someone who can "make the big jump," that is, she can perform exceptionally well on particularly significant occasions. But educators concerned with thinkingwant their students to think well 'in general' or 'as a rule.'  Robert  Ennis  has suggested  that  critical  thinking  involves  tendencies or  inclinations as well as abilities (1980, 1985). Passmore makes an important point about such tendencies. He shows that critical thinking is not the result of (only) having formed certain habits (1967). The requisite tendencies are a matter of coming to care about certain things and appreciate certain standards. In the long run, becoming a critical thinker is like becoming morally responsible; both are aspects of one's character.  1  Thus, taken together, Ennis and Passmore make a  crucial point. Being a critical thinker is not a matter of exercising a skill or set of skills, nor is it simply a capacity  2  or a collection of abilities or habits. Being  T In fact, being morally responsible especially in new situations or complex and uncertain contexts involves being able to think critically regarding moral issues at least. . Hilary Putnam argues convincingly that there are several problems with characterizing reason as a capacity (1983, p. 232). A major problem has to do with the fact that "there are no sharp lines in the brain between one capacity and another (Chomskians to the contrary)." How the lines get drawn between capacities (or abilities, for that matter) depends on what "seems natural" in a given way of speaking. But these lines do not remain . constant across different levels, or kinds, of analysis. Thus the sense in which reason is an epistemic 2  What is thinking? / 38 a critical thinker involves valuing certain things and seeing them as significant.  Another point about the purposes of this inquiry and the purposes which underly current interest in thinking has been presupposed by the foregoing remarks.  It  bears mentioning because of the recent history of philosophy and its influence on how people think about rationality and thinking. I have taken for granted in these remarks that one can have more (or less) reasonable  desires, values, and  intentions as well as true (or false) or more (or less) rationally assertible beliefs. We can think rationally about our purposes and about the standards by which we judge value as well as about means for accomplishing our purposes or other matters  subject to empirical verification. I make these remarks not in order to  sort out some area of controversy. In fact, people widely agree that there  are  shared public standards about right and wrong as well as true and false, and that it is rational to reflect on one's ends as well as the means for achieving them.  1  There are however, two related traditions with considerable importance to  how  people, especially  educators,  think  about  thinking, which  have  tended  to  emphasize reasoning about facts and means over values and ends.  The first of these is a holdover from positivism. It can be characterized loosely as a narrowing of the field of rationality to that which can be asserted as a tautology (logical truth) and that which can be verified according to the senses (cont'd) capacity (as learning is too) does not translate intelligibly into capacities measured in 'brain' units or information processing units. The problem of quantification of abilities and capacities, that is, the problems associated with analyzing the constituent parts of them, is one to which we will return. . See Coombs (1984, p. 5) for an account of why restricting practical reasoning to reasoning about means only is to accept "an unneccessarily restrictive conception of practical reasoning." 0  1  What is thinking? / 39 (empirical truth). While positivism has been widely rejected as an epistemological theory, and in many circles is commonly reviled, its general tenets and the way it was used to frame certain problems have continued to have influence. As a result, many accounts  of critical thinking have tended to focus on questions  of  logic and empirical verification at the expense of questions of value.  The other tradition, which is especially prominent in psychological approaches  to  the study of thinking, is to divorce questions of cognition or reason from those of affect or emotion. This makes  a mockery of both reason  and the  emotions.  Reason becomes what Charles Taylor has referred to as "bloodless thinking" and emotion becomes an intrusion on the rational self (lecture Psychology, U B C , February, 1  1988).  Richard  Rorty  at the Department of  connects  this  non-cognitive  stance to the emotions with the positivist reliance on the fact/value distinction: It  [the  distinction] suggests that  once 'all the facts are  in' nothing  remains except 'noncognitive' adoption of an attitude - a choice which is not rationally discussable. It disguises the fact that to use one set of true sentences to describe ourselves is already to choose an attitude toward ourselves, whereas to use another set of true sentences is to adopt  a  value-free  contrary  attitude.  Only  if  vocabulary which renders  commensurable  we  assume  that  there  is  a  these sets of 'factual' statements  can the positivist distinction between facts and values,  beliefs and attitudes, look plausible. But the philosophical fiction that such  a  vocabulary  is  on  the  tips  of  our  tongues  is,  from  an  educational point of view, disastrous. It forces us to pretend that we can split ourselves up into knowers of true sentences on the one hand  What is thinking? / 40 and choosers  of lives or actions  or  works of art  on the  other  (1979,  pp. 363-4). There  is no place  justified anger,  in such a dichotomized schema  appreciation of an elegant  appropriateness  of  argument, disgust towards an act  of  wanton cruelty, or caring based on reasons.  for the  Yet surely these emotions are part  of being sensitive to one's environment and having the character traits one would hope to encourage as part of an education.  This raises thinking.  a  final  Unlike  the  point about previous  the  points  purposes which  for inquiry into the  apply generally  to  nature  concern  of  about  thinking and education aimed at encouraging good thinking, this point is specific to this particular inquiry at this point in the development of our ideas thinking.  Despite  the  fact  that  now,  as  always,  it  is  widely  believed  about that  becoming educated involves (or ought to involve) becoming a good, or a critical thinker, and that there is more interest than ever in addressing this educational goal directly, there is widespread disagreement and confusion about what thinking is, how it is to be recognized or judged, and what can be done to improve it. In spite of the fact that the nature of rationality has been a major focus of philosophical  discussion over the  last  two or  three  decades,  even  philosophers  working in the area of critical thinking have not tended to be concerned with conceptual questions. It is generally asserted that thinking, or critical thinking, is a skill, or a process, or a set of abilities and dispositions, or whatever, without argument  and without taking cognizance  of the fact that  thinking is characterized will have consequences it.  decisions  about how  for what we can find out about  What is thinking? / 41 Even amongst those who agree about a general point of view, or initial characterization,  of thinking, there is often disagreement on basic definitional  questions. To cite two of many such examples, those who agree that critical thinking or good reasoning is essentially a matter of argument analysis and evaluation, disagree explanations.  1  about whether arguments  ought to be taken to include  Other points of view encompass other disagreements. Those who  agree that thinking or critical thinking is a skill or set of skills, disagree about the number and kind of skills involved. Even when writers feel pressed to argue for the existence of cognitive skills, rather than simply asserting their existence, there is little indication that clear criteria for what counts as a skill exist. Thus, Perkins feels free to argue from the fact that we can ask the question "Why not?" with regard to the existence of general cognitive skills, to the conclusion that there is a general cognitive skill, that is the 'skill' of asking "Why not?" (1985, p. 339).  In addition, many writers in the field seem remarkably unconcerned with heeding their own advice with regard to the standards of good thinking. A good example is given by in the work of Diane F. Halpern, who, in spite of devoting a chapter to the issue of finding and questioning assumptions, asserts (without further clarification or support) that the belief that adult students "know 'how to think' is unwarranted because "Psychologists have found that only 25% of first \ See Stephen N. Thomas (1973, pp. 6-7) and either Blair and Johnson (1983, pp. 10-1) or Scriven (1976, pp. 95-7). To complicate matters further, Gilbert Harman, in Change in View: Principles of Reasoning wants us to distinguish  between the rules of inference which apply in arguments and the "rules of revision" which apply in reasoning (1986, p. 3-4). While some of these distinctions may be attributable to the differing points that authors are making in differing contexts, my point is that central concepts such as 'reasoning' and 'argument' are used a bewildering variety of ways.  What is thinking? / 42 year college students  possessed the skills needed for logical thought (McKinnon &  Renner, 1971)" (1984, p. 3).  So while there is general agreement about the importance of critical thinking as an educational goal, the field suffers from a lack of conceptual sophistication and from a confusing use (and misuse) adopted While  to fulfill it  is  recognized  misunderstandings persuasive  specialized that  of common language  purposes  within a  no  study  and confusions  one or  to the range of theorists  address  terms which have been  variety is  of theoretical  going  the issues  and practitioners  to  positions.  sweep  away  in terms  interested  all  which are  in the field of  critical thinking, the need for work in this area seems clear.  2.3.  PRELIMINARY  CONCLUSIONS  While little has been said to provide a positive characterization  of how we should  answer the question "What is thinking?" in a productive and appropriate several  of the points  raised  are  suggestive.  The broad  purposes  manner,  involved in  current interest in thinking imply that the inquiry should deal with the shared, public concept  of thinking rather than  a particular  conception.  Initial  conceptual  inquiry suggests that the concept of thinking does not label a phenomenon or a process. Given that interest in thinking is largely motivated by practical such as the desire for an informed and competent  concerns,  citizenry, the primary object  of inquiry is 'good thinking'. Good thinking is not simply an internal affair, nor can  it be characterized  feelings,  and emotions.  independently of aspects "of our mental Certain  uses  of the  concept  which  lives  such  as  do not refer  to  What is thinking? / 43 anything which is evaluated according to standards  will not be of primary  concern. Those senses which do refer to that which is the centre of concern are those which refer to both reasoning and sensitivities, i.e. deliberative thinking and tendencies to be affected appropriately.  1  The fact that it is 'good thinking' which is the object of the inquiry highlights the importance of normative or evaluative judgments, a category of claims which has often been overlooked or treated as of minimal importance in accounts of critical thinking. This inquiry will place normative judgments in a central role. Perhaps the best initial characterization of the point of view from which this inquiry proceeds is that it will consider thinking as a normative activity, that is, an activity constituted by, and judged according to norms or rules. However, 2  the acceptance of this characterization as adequate depends on some degree of indulgence on the part of the reader. It is not meant to imply that there is one activity of thinking in the way that it has already been denied that there is one process of thinking. It might be best to consider thinking as a set of normative activities with varying degrees of interrelationship. At any rate, the use of "normative activity" is not meant to prejudge this issue.  Further, the use of the word activity is not meant to imply that thinking is something one does independently of other activities. As has been argued by Ryle .This is tobe distinguished from the view expressed by Norris and Ennis which stipulates that only thinking in which "a person consciously and deliberately seeks and uses good reasons" can be critical" (1989, p. 16). . This use of 'normative activity' is consistent with Thomas Green's description of teaching as "a rule guided activity" or as being "norm-regarding," in "Teaching, Acting, and Behaving" (1958, p. 117). As Green points out, an activity of this sort "is not simply norm-conforming; it is norm-obeying." 2  What is thinking? / 44 and  his  successors,  while you  work.  1  thinking  Contrary  internal activity, it will be  while  you  work  is not  necessarily  like  to the notion that thinking is some kind of private, recognized  that the fact that there  are public norms  by  which thinking is evaluated  be  recalled that thinking is of interest as it concerns the forming and  of beliefs and Partly  in  characterization considered "social  as  of  to  forestall  thinking  will  which  Investigations,  has  be  been  these two  of "normative activity," the use there is anything clear way  any  are  such  clearly  introduced,  made notions  related to how  misunderstandings,  a social practice. Because of the  practice"  Philosophical  implies that this is not (simply) the case. It will  intentions, both of which  order  whistling  most  that  is, that  connection forcefully  people act.  another thinking  between by  changing  initial will  be  "norms"  and  Wittgenstein  in  are closely related. As  in the case  of "social practice" is not meant to imply that  singular about thinking. While there does not seem to be  of quantifying practices, it is meant to be  left as  an  open  any  question  whether thinking is best characterized as a practice or a set of practices.  . As will be seen in the next chapter, this terminology is also not intended to prejudge Ryle's distinction between thinking as activity and result. 1  3. CRITICAL THINKING AS A SOCIAL PRACTICE  This chapter especially thinking,  the  is intended to develop the major centrality  and the  of  normative  relationship of the  themes of the  judgments "normative"  to  the  opening  practice  chapter,  of  critical  aspect of thinking with  "social" aspect. In addition, the relationship between mental abilities, the  its  results  of thinking, and theories about mental structures and mechanisms are explored.  3.1. 'CRITICAL' AS A TERM OF  JUDGMENT  What is it that we mean when we praise people for being critical thinkers, or simply for 'being critical'? The fact that we can use such phrases to praise is evidence that  they have normative force. John  Passmore  conveys  something  of  this force in saying, "Critical thinking as it is exhibited in the great traditions conjoins  imagination and criticism in a  science,  history, philosophy, or technology  single the  form of thinking; in free flow of the  literature,  imagination is  controlled by criticism and criticisms are transformed into a new way of looking at things" (1967, p. 201).  'Critical thinking' is used to express a judgment about  the worth of something, to evaluate something against some set of standards. A • critical thinker is one who makes rational judgments, who sees things clearly. To accept an idea uncritically is to have failed to measure  up to the standard of  accepting  To  only that  for  which we have  good reasons.  examine  something  critically is to be thorough and to employ appropriate standards. Which standards are the 'appropriate' ones is a matter of judgment, a matter  to be determined  by purposes and context. As can be seen from these examples, there is a dual  45  Critical thinking as a social practice / 46 sense in which 'being critical' implies judgment. It is used to express a judgment against  standards, and the relevant standards  are  those  of rationality or good  judgment.  There are many other uses of the word 'critical,' not all of which express  a  positive value judgment. Sometimes it is used to refer to the habit or disposition to identify flaws and shortcomings exclusively. 'Being critical' in this sense is a perjorative term in the same way that 'being judgmental' is perjorative, but this is only one use among many for either  'critical' or 'judgment'.  'critical' express notions such as gravity or seriousness significance  (as  in  'critical  mass'  or  evaluative stance (as in 'critical notice'). variety of interpretations  'critical 1  Other uses of  (as in 'critical condition'),  issue'),  or  the  taking  of  an  These uses lend credibility to the wide  of the phrase critical thinking. For example, the  last  mentioned "evaluational" sense of 'critical' accords well with Robert Ennis's earlier formulations  of  critical thinking as  the  evaluation  of  statements.  I  take  it  however, that while there is no single correct interpretation of such a phrase, some interpretations may be more useful than others given our purposes. Given that we are interested in thinking as a normative activity and given the broad educational  purposes  mentioned  in  the  preceeding  chapter,  Passmore's  strong  normative sense of 'being critical' seems most useful.  Returning to the examples cited in the opening paragraph of this section, we can see that one way we could address the problem of what it means to be critical, would be to think about the standards implied by various uses of the term. T 'Critical' as it is used in the phrases 'critical theory' or 'critical pedagogy' is discussed briefly in chapter 5.  Critical Terms  like  thorough, appropriate,  thinking as a social practice / 47  clear, rational,  and  good, are  in  the  same  family of words as the word critical. Other words which function in similar ways are  responsible,  imaginative.  careful,  Each  standards. Critical,  of  balanced,  these  like  words  good  and  sensible, expresses  discriminating, a  somewhat  perceptive,  and  different range  rational, tends to encompass  a  rather  of  broad  range of other, more specific, terms of judgment. Just what range of standards 'being critical' refers to is a question to which we  There is an  important difference between normative terms, of the  been considering, and  to their functions and  are  used  to  express  their properties, both formal  appraisals. Thus,  descriptive term, for instance as being argument but being  to  refer to  an  and  have  material; they  argument  standard.  positive judgment  It is important  with  a  'deductive,' is to identify the form of the  does not judge its quality, whereas, to refer to an  'clear' expresses a  particular  sort we  descriptive terms. Descriptive terms identify their referents  according not  will return.  that  argument  as  about it, at least according  to  'critical,'  "critical  as  it is used  in  one  thinking," is used to express a normative judgment.  Consider the conditions which must obtain in order be appropriate. One against  or  some standard  bad,  of judgment to  condition is that whatever is being judged must be measured or purpose. Another  judgment implies some standard good  for questions  flawed  what it is for, with  or  way  this is that every  or purpose. Whatever is being judged is rated  flawless, inspired or  regard  of saying  to its utility  mundane, etc., with  in achieving  reference  some desired  against some relevant standard. Another condition is that judgments can  as to  goal, or only  be  Critical thinking as a social practice / 48 made on the basis of evidence. Each judgment implies that something is known about that which is being judged. Wittgenstein has  drawn an analogy  between  making a claim (or a judgment) and shooting a gun at a target. For the claim to have meaning, or to serve a purpose, it must be possible for it to be wrong or infelicitous in some way. Otherwise it is like aiming a gun which is attached to the  target.  The  whole notion of aiming (and target) is lost in this  Similarly, with making a judgment, standard)  case.  there must be a target (goal, purpose, or  and there must be some risk taken, some possibilitj' of going wrong,  of being mistaken, or misinterpreting the evidence.  This  analogy  may  be  used to  point out two areas  of confusion  which have  plagued discussions of thinking. The first concerns what it is about thinking that can be judged. Just as some instances involve some  aiming, cannot instances  be  sensibly judged  of thinking cannot  critical standards.  of shooting a gun, because they do not  sensibly  according to  standards  of  be judged according to  accuracy,  rational or  Typically, when we use the word thinking to express  what  someone is doing, or what activity someone is engaged in, judging according to critical standards results  is inappropriate. When thinking is used to describe  in achieving (or failing to  achieve)  some  purpose,  such  someone's  standards  are  relevant. What this suggests is that it is the standards and purposes, as opposed to  the  process  (or  kinds  of  processes)  which  makes  instances  of  thinking  candidates for being critical.  The second area nor  the  passage  of confusion can be identified by noting that neither thinking of  a  bullet  are  visible  events.  It  might  be  thought  that  Critical thinking as a social practice / 49 judgments or actions provide evidence of series of unobservable mental events in the same way that holes in targets  provide evidence for unobservable physical  events. This might lead one to think that judgments about competence on the part of thinkers are based on inferred facts about mental events in the same way  that judgments about competence at shooting are based on inferred physical  events. Without questioning that we do judge competence at thinking on the basis of judgments and actions, I note that the fact that 'thinking' only sometimes refers to mental events, suggests  that caution is required if we are to avoid  confusion.  As  will  be  seen  both  of  these  sorts  of  confusion are  evident  in current  discussions of thinking and what it means to be competent at a mental task or to have a mental ability. These two areas of confusion will form the topics of sections of this chapter.  3.2. THINKING AS ACTIVITY AND RESULT  Having recognized that 'critical' is, when used in the relevant sense, a term of judgment and that its use is appropriate only to some instances of thinking, we are equipped to return to a longstanding problem in the field of critical thinking. The  problem has  processes  or  the  often  been  products  of  stated  in  thinking.  terms  of  whether  Though some  we  evaluate  the  philosophers and most  psychologists believe that we evaluate the "process" of thinking, I will argue that this position is based on a misunderstanding, one which is perhaps associated with  the  fact  that  'thinking'  can be  used to  refer  to  an  activity,  that  is,  Critical thinking as a social practice / 50 something which happens over time, or to a result or outcome.  To review: we do use the words 'thought' and 'think' to refer to events and activities which take place 'in our heads.' I can answer the question, "What are you doing?" with, "Oh, just thinking about what it would be like to win the lottery." I can report that a certain thought occurred to me at a given time or that my attention was occupied for a certain period of time. I may even be able to describe the form that a thought took as an image or a set of words. Many such reports, it may be noticed, are not of a sort that provide grounds for judging success or failure, or anything else about the quality of thinking which has taken place. The fact that someone has thought "of something or "about" something, does not, in the absence of other information, indicate that anything has been accomplished which can be judged. It is simply a report. 1  Recalling the analogy mentioned in the first section of this chapter, it is like a fact about where the bullet struck without knowing where, or if, the gun was being aimed.  However, if I claim to think that a certain painting is derivative or that a certain solution is adequate, I am not necessarily reporting on some event or making a claim about what occupied my attention at any given time or for any particular duration. There are (public) criteria for judging whether such beliefs are justified or such solutions are adequate. I may be wrong about this in a 2  T If" one thinks "about" the consequences of accepting a claim, or "of a solution or an explanation, the relevant standards are given as being epistemoiogical by virtue of the epistemoiogical character of the predicate. . Ennis claims that Dewey uses psychological rather than logical criteria for the solution of problem solving, (1967, p. 115). While this seems to be at least treading on the borderline of not having public criteria, the issue is made 2  Critical thinking as a social practice / 51 way in which I cannot be wrong when I report on what I am thinking about. While this distinction is highly context dependent, in that many sentences can be used to express either the activity or the result of thinking (and it is not always important to distinguish between them) the distinction does have a certain significance for being clear about critical thinking. The foregoing considerations suggest that thinking is assessed on the basis of results. When we say that someone is a clear thinker, it is the quality of the reasons she offers and the conclusions she draws which are being judged, not the crispness of her mental images or any other quality of her experience while thinking.  This is a point which has caused considerable difficulty. It is noted that one may arrive at a satisfactory conclusion by means which are inadequate, as a result of fortuitous but faulty reasoning, for example. This is cited as grounds for rejecting the conclusion that it is the results of thinking which are evaluated in favour of the claim that we evaluate the process of thinking. Some go so far as to suggest that success at certain sorts of tasks is dependent on having an appropriate mental mechanism.  1  Thus, critical thinking is thought not to be  reliably identified by examining the results of thinking (judgments or actions), but rather through the identification of the use of a relevant mechanism or process. ° (cont'd) somewhat more complex by the fact that Dewey often draws attention to the blend of "objectivity" and "subjectivity" in our judgments. Thus, Dewey may have understood psychological criteria as being socially mediated. See Norris and King (1984, pp. 29) for an account of the role of such mechanisms in both in their own and in Robert Sternberg's work. Norris's work will form the object of critique for much of the remainder of this chapter. This is not because Norris adopts a uniquely wrongheaded position so much as the fact that he discusses explicitly a position which is implicit in the work of many others, especially those interested in measurement and empirical research into thinking. This includes many of those who adopt an information processing approach and some who, like Norris, adopt a multi-aspect approach. 1  Critical thinking as a social practice / 52 Norris and King, in regard to assessing the validity of their test of the ability to appraise observation claims, state, "...that in order to judge the validity of the test there has to be some attempt to access the mental processes which determine people's performances on the test. The test is then judged valid to the extent that suitable mental processes lead to good performance and unsuitable ones lead to poor performance" (1984, p. 30). There are several problems with this account.  First it may be noted that ordinary attributions of abilities do not depend on knowledge of processes or mechanisms. If I see someone lift something or play a piece on the piano, I am quite entitled under normal circumstances to the belief that they can (or have the ability to) lift such and such a weight or play the piano. Admittedly there are exceptions.  Sometimes we say  that success is  achieved by luck rather than ability. In such cases we look for consistency of results to rule out the possiblity of luck as an explanation for success. Again, knowledge of a process is not a necessary condition for the warranted attribution of an ability.  Second, there is considerable ambiguity in the notion of a mental process. This will be explored in the following section, but even if we accept the authors' interpretation as unproblematic, a further, and familiar problem exists. Norris and King describe such processes as consisting of a series of steps. Examples of such steps  include encoding "relevant  attributes  of  the  terms  of an analogy"  (Sternberg, 1984, p. 40) and looking "for all relevant differences ... between the speakers [making observation claims] ... the conditions under which observations  Critical thinking as a social practice / 53 were made, or between the types of statements that were made" (Norris and King, 1984, p. 29). Notice that such steps can be taken carefully or carelessly, and successfully or unsuccessfully. One may not correctly identify the relevant attribute or find the relevant differences even if one 'engages in the relevant process.' As we saw in the case of the problem solving approach to critical thinking, the occurrence of series of steps, however appropriate they might be, is not sufficient to bring about success. Therefore, the fact that they occur is insufficient to demonstrate that the ability exists. What the use of the word relevant in the examples quoted indicates is that the real issue here is one of meeting particular standards. It is the meeting of these standards, rather than the existence of particular processes or the fact that certain mechanisms are operative, which makes thinking critical.  As a third and final point, it is significant what Norris and King took as evidence for the existence of a mental structure or process. The source of evidence for the hypothesized processes was a series of reports by test takers on their thinking while they did the test. "Examinees were asked only to tell all they could about their thinking as they were choosing their answers" (1984, p. 43). Notice the ambiguity in this instruction. If the examinees take this to mean that they should report on their reasons for choosing one alternative over another, their response is relevant to judging whether their choice was based on careful thinking or on luck. It is not clear, however, that such a report is evidence of any particular process or sequence of steps. Reasons need not occur in any particular series of steps, or indeed, occur at all, in order to count as  Critical thinking as a social practice / 54 reasons for a choice.  On  the  other  1  Reasons are not mental events.  hand,  if  examinees  take  phenomenological report, then a sincere some kind of a mental process.  the  instruction  response  as  a  request  for  a  would provide a description of  At least it would refer to something which is  undeniably mental and something which is a sequence of events with a certain duration.  However, the  relevance  of such  a  report  to judging the  quality of  reasoning is unclear. Reasons can be appropriately judged according to epistemic standards such as adequacy, whereas mental events cannot.  2  To summarize this critique of the notion that we can reliably identify instances of good thinking only on the  basis  of the  existence of mental  processes  or  mechanisms, I have suggested that knowledge of the existence or use of mental processes is neither necessary nor sufficient to warrant such judgments. Further, I  have  suggested  that  any  plausibility  that  such  claims  have  relies  on  . Should it be supposed that a reason must 'occur' in order to affect one's reasoning at all, and a fortiori, to affect the quality of one's reasoning, consider the case of a doctoral student searching for the right way to finish a chapter in his thesis. A reason for his choosing any particular ending will be that it will be found satisfactory by the examining committee, but thoughts of the examining committee need not occur and arguably should not occur in his deliberations. . Certain qualifications are required here. As Jerrold Coombs has pointed out, ordinary usage is not definitive on this point. There are what I might call symbolic processes, such as the process of elimination, which are employed in reasoning, although they are clearly not the sort of processes for which Norris and King are searching. Further, there are occasions when reports of mental events can be relevant to judging the adequacy of reasoning: if someone is contemplating taking some action it is relevant whether they have thought of how it might affect others. Failure to even have the thought that others might be affected is presumably a more basic error than to have failed to do so realistically. However while these considerations are important, they do not impugn the central point that reasoning cannot be conflated with mental processes without confusion. 2  Critical thinking as a social practice / 5 5 equivocation  with  regard  to  two  different  meanings  of  the  word thinking.  'Thinking' as it is used to refer to mental events or sequences of mental events does refer to a process but the process cannot be judged according to rational or epistemic  standards.  Thinking as  reasoning  standards but is not a mental process,  is  judged  according  to  relevant  at least not in the sense a series  of  events experienced by the thinker.  Perhaps  one  way  to  help  correct  the  widespread notion that  we judge  the  process rather than the products of thinking is to be clear about the distinction between a process and a procedure. While the word process is used to refer to all sorts of sequential events or stages, procedures are clearly normative sets of steps. Notice that processes  occur whereas procedures do not occur but can be  followed. Procedures are created by human beings and human beings can try to follow them. Their attempts may succeed or fail. This is in marked contrast to many  processes,  especially  radioactive decomposition.  In many contexts,  naturally occurring processes  such  as  digestion or  1  one may appeal to the following of a relevant procedure in  justifying a conclusion, a decision, or a judgment. For instance, one might accept an estimate of the amount of material required for a certain job because it had been worked out according to a particular procedure which was known to be reliable. As has been pointed out, the fact that a certain procedure has been followed is not proof that the estimate  is correct but it may provide sufficient  . A more complete description of the place of procedures in normative activities is given in chapter 5. The distinction between normative and causal explanations is discussed in section 4 of this chapter. 1  Critical thinking as a social practice / 56 reason to accept the estimate in some particular context.  If  we  were  to  substitute  the  normative term  'procedure' for  the  descriptive  'process' in the account by Norris and King, a much clearer picture would be obtained. It would then be seen that Norris and King are testing to see whether their examinees follow a particular procedure in assessing observation claims. A case could be made that the procedure for which they are testing is the most appropriate given the  constraints  of the  testing  situation. The  test  would no  longer be seen as a test of the ability to appraise observation claims in general, but rather as a test of whether people were inclined and able to apply certain useful principles in certain sorts of contexts. report choices.  on 2  their  thinking,  Responses  they  could  be  1  Rather than asking test takers to asked  to  give  reasons  for  their  could be evaluated according to whether those tested made  the right choices and were able to give good reasons given certain prompting. I suggest that such changes would make for more modest claims, but claims which are more defensible. These changes would make clear that we are interested in assessing judgments  of the results or the products of thinking in the form of reasoned and would avoid the  ambiguities and false  assumptions which  have  plagued approaches which attempt to evaluate thinking processes.  ~T Not any 'application of principles' is accurately described as following of a procedure. One could however, sensibly describe a very 'loose' procedure which involved checking to see if any of the fifteen principles which Norris and King suggest are relevant to the item in question. . Notice that the reasons need not have occurred consciously to the test takers to count as their reasons nor need they have been sought out deliberately, as is suggested by Norris and Ennis (1989, p. 16). They may have been assumed. What is crucial is that test takers recognize them as reasons that were relevant to their decision. 2  Critical thinking as a social practice / 57 3.3. WHAT A MENTAL ABILITY IS NOT  Norris and King are hardly alone in having difficulty with the concept of mental abilities. The concept has great importance in critical thinking, partly because of the prominent place of abilities in the multi-aspect approach to critical thinking and also because of the close relation between 'understanding,' 'knowing,' and 'being able.'  1  Having a clear idea of what abilities are is important, especially if  it sheds light on the concepts of knowledge and understanding. Unfortunately, the concept of ability, and more specifically, the concept of mental ability have been misconstrued in a number of wa}'s. This section  will demonstrate  several  confusions related to the understanding of what an ability is. One of these confusions (which will be referred to as vehicle reductionism) plays a prominent part in the information processing approach to critical thinking, although it is laid out most explicitly by Stephen Norris. Further, it will be pointed out that there is an ambiguity in analyzing an ability in terms of various sub-abilities which are thought to make up the ability in question. This realization has consequences  for our understanding of the  multi-aspect  approach to critical  thinking.  Many philosophers and others have tried to understand abilities as entities of one kind or another. While there is no merit in cataloguing all of the ways in which the term has been misunderstood, it may be useful to point out three significant ways in which we can go wrong. One possible error is what Baker and Hacker .This relation connection with grammar of the able to'. But it  was mentioned in the section on thinking as a social practice in 'knowing a rule.' The idea can be traced to Wittgenstein: "The word 'knows' is evidently closely related to that of 'can', and 'is is also closely related to that of 'understands'." (PI, Para. 148).  Critical thinking as a social practice / 58 describe as transcendentalism (1980, p. 337). This is the error that Wittgenstein refers to as thinking that "the possible movements" of a machine must already exist within the machine (PI, Para. 193-4). Baker and Hacker point out that this leads to the notion that inference from "a performance to 'a power capable of producing it' is one from effect to cause" (1980, p. 338). They go on to describe two possible reactions to transcendentalism, both of which are reductionist.  The first is to conflate a power with its exercise. They associate this error with Hume, quoting his statement that "The distinction which we often make betwixt power  and the exercise of it is ... without foundation [and] is entirely  frivolous"  1  (Baker and Hacker, 1980, p. 338). Stephen Norris also associates this  error with Hume (1983, p. 55) and with logical positivism (1985, p. 172). Norris's particular concern with this form of reductionism is that it fails to provide a "realistic" interpretation of 'ability,' that is, it fails to identify some thing to which 'ability' refers.  There are at least two other reasons for rejecting this form of reductionism. First, we are often justified in our attributions of ability without any knowledge of past or present 'doings' on the part of the possessor of the ability. I know that my car- can go 100 miles per hour even though I have never driven it that fast. Further, I know that I can fit any round peg into any round hole of greater surface area whereas I am not entitled to make the same claim regarding triangular pegs in triangular holes. In short, attributions of an ability are not the same as accounts of its exercise. In addition, knowledge of the 1  . From the Treatise, Bk. I, Pt. iii, Sect. xiv.  Critical thinking as a social practice / 59 exercise is not the only acceptable  Second, the that  support for ability claims.  fact that someone has  they can  do  have been lost. A  it. The  done something does not  'doing' may  change in the  lead to a revision of an  condition of the  ability claim  example is, if a weight lifter had to be able to lift what he had  have been  a  mean in all cases the  ability  may  possessor of an  ability  may  testing of the  exercise.  An  without any  slipped a disk, we  fluke or  would no longer expect  before, even if he had  him  not actually attempted it.  In recognizing Hume's mistake, Norris realizes that choosing the correct option a test is insufficient evidence of the ability in which he might  choose  might  have  correctly based 'the  on  is interested. A  irrelevant considerations.  right idea' but  be  mixed  up  about  a  Further, minor  student  a  point  on  student or  have  misread a relevant phrase. In either case, accepting the choice as an indicator of the ability would be misleading. However, Norris is convinced that there must be some 'thing' to which the word ability refers. . He acceptance of scientific  realism  searches for something other  and  a  the  same power"  certain  correspondence notion  than the exercise of an  ability corresponds. "It is only probing of things which can  (Norris, 1985,  of truth. Thus,  ability to which the  into the internal structures and  determine whether or not  thing is to ascribe a  associates this belief with his  p.. 174).  1  power to that  he  word  processes  a set of proficiencies arise from  "To  say  that  person, which  a  person can in turn  something categorical about the person's constitution" (Norris, 1985,  do  is to p.  172).  a say In  . Since Norris uses 'competencies' and 'powers' interchangeably, and asserts that competencies are powers, there is a certain ambiguity in the notion of "arises" in this context. 1  ! •!  Critical thinking as a social practice / 60 another place, he suggests that claims about the ability to think critically are "categorical claims about people's either genetically or environmentally determined natures" (1986, p. 81).  But, in reaction against the fallacious reduction of an ability to its exercise, Norris has fallen into Baker and Hacker's third kind of error, that is, to reduce ability claims to claims about the structure of whatever has the ability. Baker 1  and Hacker identify this as a form of "vehicle reductionism" (1980, p. 339). They associate this error with Descartes who noticed that "one form of scientific explanation  is by reference to structures. He mistakenly thought that explanation  is reduction and held that the geometrical properties (the spatial structure) of a material object not only explained but constituted its powers (and that all its 'remaining properties' were only effects of its structure upon percipients)" (1980, p. 340).  But  attributions  of ability do not, in general,  say something about the  constitution of that which possesses that ability. To see that this is true consider the following: if you know that something can go ninety miles per hour, what do you know about its constitution? Is it a car, a cheetah, or a baseball? Is there some underlying structure, process, or mechanism, which explains the fact that each of these things can go so fast? Further, is there any sense in which 2  T One might note tEe parallel between Norris's reaction against reductive tendencies in positivism and Chomsky's reaction against Skinner's behaviourist reductionism. In both cases, the result has been confusion based a misunderstanding of attributions of ability. . Norris is perfectly aware that there need be no single 'stucture' which underlies any particular ability as he makes clear in "Competencies as Powers" (1985, p. 171). 2  Critical thinking as a social practice / 61 we  need to know anything about the structure of any  or all of these things in  order to know what it means to go ninety miles per hour or that something is able to go ninety miles per hour, in the way reasearch is needed to understand "the  that Norris suggests that scientific  meaning of the claim that the child  has  the ability to do sums? (1984, p. 81).  We  might ask  whether there is something particular about mental abilities which  means that they do problem  in  addressing  'process.' We events  imply something about structures or processes. Part of the  are  this issue  is the  noted  of  have seen that processes understood as not  necessarily  related  to  better reason for assuming that there structures  ambiguity  which  in section  correspond  to  2.2.  if one  Even  mental  at  construes  'mental  seems  series of brain the  structure' or  series of phenomenological  abilities. There  must be  descriptions  a  level  to  be  no  states or brain  of mental  'mental structure' as  abilities,  as  referring to  something such as a conceptual structure, there seems to be no reason to accept that  the  correct  ascription of an  ability  warrants  claims  about  any  particular  kind of knowledge be it knowledge of facts or of a procedure of some sort.  To a  see how mental  this is true, consider ability  is warranted. Take  estimate the amount of plywood he building. Consider how  he  various  the  floor  an  areas on  actual instance the  of  a  builder  who  attribution of is able  to  will need for the subfloor of a house he is  might accomplish plans,  case  in which an  1  this task.  calculate each  area  He  could  and  add  scale out them  up,  the then  As Jerrold Coombs has pointed out, there are exceptions to this general rule for certain sorts of ability. That someone can add, for instance, implies knowledge of what adding is.  1  Critical thinking as a social practice / 62 divide by the area of a sheet of plywood and add some factor for waste. Alternatively, he could cut out a rectangular piece of paper which was the size of a sheet of plywood according to the scale of the drawings and use it as a template to mark out where each sheet would go, keeping track of the number of times he had to use it. Then again, he might say, "Oh, that's just a little bigger than the last house on the main floor but the second floor has that bit out of it so I'll need about 65 sheets." Any number of procedures might be reasonable ways of estimating and might lead to successful performance. What needs to be known in each case, is different. But, given that the builder does reasonably accurately  and reasonably reliably predict the amount of plywood  required, we must credit him with the relevant ability.  The fact that there is no single procedure or single set of facts which must be known in order to produce successful results at many tasks has an interesting consequence for talk about abilities, including the abilities which are thought to constitute part of what it is to be a critical thinker. Abilities are often labelled by the relevant result or objective. We say, for instance, that the builder in the example has the ability to estimate. In what sense, however, can we say that the ability to estimate is constituted by any particular knowledge or mental structures, or even by the sub-abilities of multiplying and dividing, or utilizing a template, or simply judging on the basis of experience? Given that we can go on imagining a host of other methods, increasingly farfetched perhaps, which could be used to generate correct estimates, in what sense can we say that 'the ability to estimate floor areas' is, in general, constituted by anything, including any set of sub-abilities? Further, the problem becomes more severe as the ability  Critical thinking as a social practice / 63 in question becomes less clearly specified. It becomes difficult to make sense of 1  the notion of 'the ability to estimate' without some idea of what is to be estimated. In what sense then can we understand the ability to think or to think critically as a set of sub-abilities?  Notice that this has serious consequences for the multi-aspect approach to critical thinking, even when it is not interpreted  as  providing names for various  processes or mechanisms involved in thinking critically. At the least, it leads us to take a list such as Ennis's list of critical thinking abilities as a list of tasks at which critical thinkers ought to be proficient, rather than understanding it as a list of skills, or properties of critical thinkers. Critical thinkers ought to be able to do those things well, but possession of the power to do these things well is not the cause of 'being critical'. The list ought to be read as set of standards or criteria, not as a list of the constitutive parts of an overarching ability - the ability to think critically. Notice that this ambiguity may be avoided by being careful with one's language. When we speak of someone 'being able' to do certain things, there is little likelihood of such confusions. As soon as we start speaking of the relevant 'abilities' or worse still, 'skills and abilities,' the chance for confusion is increased.  A more perspicuous understanding of the nature of abilities, mental or otherwise, is given by Israel Scheffler when he notes that "In context, then, it would seem T There are special cases inwhich an ability may be defined adequately as a conjunction of sub-abilities, for example, the the ability to recognize the primary colours may be constituted by the sub-abilities of recognizing red, blue, and yellow. These inferences seem warranted only, however, when the ability is related to something which can be divided into a denumerable number of discrete sets.  Critical thinking as a social practice / 64 that ability attribution typically serves to deny that some particular condition obtains" (1985, p. 93). treating  abilities as  hypothetical  entities,  constructs  structures and processes."  This way of explaining ability attributions avoids  either  which  preventative  can  as  actual  only  entities  be  with causal  understood  by  powers  "probing  Rather than explaining what abilities are,  or  as  internal  or what the  term ability refers to, it explains an important role of ability attributions in our language.  3.4. THE SEARCH FOR THE CAUSE  The considerations raised in the last two sections make it possible to the proposed analogy between judging the accuracy the  hole it leaves  in the  target,  reevaluate  of a shot by the location of  and judging the  quality of thinking  by  the  evidence of a person's subsequent words and actions. In this section, some of the ways in which this analogy could mislead us are examined. It will be suggested that  the  reasons  kind are  of explanations  used  appropriately  which some theorists The  notion that  in which concepts are  unlike  the  such sorts  as  abilities,  of  scientific  take as an ideal to which all explanations  some  kinds of phenomena  are  best understood  rules,  and  explanations  should conform. by  approaches  which differ from attempts to provide a scientific explanation is introduced.  In spite of the fact that the hole left by the bullet and the considered judgment or  action  of the  thinking person can each  serve  as  the  basis for judging the  quality of the shooting or the reasoning of the relevant person, there is at least one significant difference. In the case of the target shooter,  there is always an  Critical thinking as a social practice / 65 identifiable series of events which is known to have produced the evidence.  The  aiming of the gun and the pulling of the trigger cause the bullet to travel in a certain direction and, in conjunction with certain facts about the bullet and the environment, cause the hole in the target. These events can be explained with reference to theories of physical science.  But when I say that I think that the  argument was a good one, or that Helen obviously thought the ice was  thick  enough to skate on, or that the family pet thinks he has the same rights as the rest of us, there need be no corresponding set of mental events in myself, Helen, or Fido.  There is, however, a widespread tendency  to search  for a link to the sort of  physical laws which govern the trajectories of bullets which will explain intelligent action or speech  on the  part of human beings.  It  is thought by some  that  linguistics, psychology, and/or neurology will, given time, discover covering laws (or theories) which will explain the processes which take place between input in the  form of sense data  and output in the  form of actions  including speech.  However, as Putam argues, if this is taken to mean "saying in reductive  terms  what 'thinking there are alot of cats in the neighborhood' is, and 'remembering where Paris is' is...we more  ambitious  than  are asking a great deal (1987, p. "reducing  color  or  solidity or  14).  This is vastly  solubility to  fundamental  physics" (1987, p. 14) and these problems have proved insurmountable. This line of argument should lead us to be skeptical of claims such as those of Norris or Sternberg, mechanisms'  that  mental  terms  refer  to  to  yet  to  be  discovered  'mental  or processes. These claims seem to Be based on a rather narrow  conception of what can count as an explanation and as what can count as being  Critical thinking as a social practice / 66 real.  Norris makes  shall see,  this explicit in his references to  there are all sorts of concepts  scientific  realism. As we  which do not refer to entities  and a  concept need not refer to an entity in order to have meaning. Examples of such concepts include 'belief,' 'reason,' and 'rule,' as well as the now familiar 'ability.'  Any  of these  concepts  may  play  a  perfectly  useful  and  respectable  role in  explanations. I may explain that Helen went out on the ice because she believed that it was thick enough to skate on. I may explain that I am not in a rush because I am able to make it across campus in plenty of time for my class. In either  example,  the  explanation  offered  may be  useful and does  not wait on  scientific discovery to be meaningful.  To return to the analogy of the bullet for a final time, we can see that  the  invisibility of the speeding bullet is of a different kind from the invisibility of the 'thinking' which leads up to a judgment. The bullet unequivocally causes the hole in the target. It may be invisible but is obviously a physical  entit3'  covered  by physical laws. Attempts to describe thinking as a parallel process have been seen to involve various types of confusion. Rules, beliefs, and abilities are  not  invisible because they are going too fast, as bullets are, or because they are too small, as electrons  are, or because they are inside our heads, as neural firings  are. They cannot be seen because they are not entities  at all. This realization,  however, should not lead us to think that they have no role in perfectly useful kinds of explanation.  Part of research  into critical thinking must be an examination of the norms or  Critical thinking as a social practice / 67 standards  of  good thinking.  Unlike  the  standards  by  which  one judges  the  accuracy of target shooting, the standards for judging thinking are complex, not obvious, and potentially in conflict with one another. The task of describing the standards of good thinking is problematic in that they vary depending on the subject matter, one's purposes, and one's culture. Nonetheless, being clear about what  critical  thinking  standards.  But  it  standards,  not  causes.  reference  to  the  is,  is  should be  having kept  When we  rules  which  she  some  in mind  sort that  explain what is  of  understanding  this  is  or  the  these  an understanding of  someone  following  of  is  doing by making  standards  of  adequate  performance at her task, we are not identifying the causes of her actions. So, while standards and causes may both be invoked as elements in explanation, and both have to do with observed regularities, there are many ways in which thej' are  unlike each  consulted. They  other. are  Standards  are  referred  part of our practices  to;  on  the  basis  of  constant  are  interpreted and  of justification and criticism. While  standards may guide action, thej' do not necessitate attributed  they  conjunction.  occurrences  Following  a  nor are rule  or  they acting  according to a standard can be done only by agents, that is, by entities which can  make  choices,  whereas  many  other  kinds of entities  can  cause  and be  caused.  Often, the result of accepting only scientific explanation as explanations and only concepts which refer to physical entities as meaningful has been to distort the nature of mental and normative phenomena. The desire to operationalize concepts, to  reduce  the  extent  to  which  their  use  is  dependent  on context  and  the  judgment of individuals, results in the use of new criteria (a new concept) which  I Critical thinking as a social practice / 68 may not be translatable into the original concept (as we saw in section 1.1 with the examples of 'intelligence' and 'understanding a language').  Given that there are perils associated with adopting the methodology of scientific inquiry for inquiry into normative  phenomena, particularly with regard to the  elimination of the intentional and normative aspects of the concepts with which our inquiries are initiated, the question arises: what methodology is appropriate to the study of normative phenomena? If we are not after causal explanation with predictive power, what are we after? A brief answer might be that we are after a perspicuous understanding. Wittgenstein used the analogy of coming to know an unfamiliar city. By wandering through the  streets, one gradually develops an  awareness of the relationships between different areas and comes to recognize familiar  areas from new perspectives.  scientist  trying  to  explain  why  This  certain  might be contrasted  areas  had  come  to  to have  a social certain  characteristics.  The analogy could be extended by suggesting that various theorists  have been  over the relevant territory and have provided a variety of explanations for how things methods  are.  Sometimes,  caught  up in enthusiasm  for  their  theories  or  new  for measuring and identifying things or simply confused by different  perspectives  and atmospheric  conditions,  their  accounts  have  been misleading.  Ideally, we should correct these misunderstandings by showing how things might have looked that way under those conditions but that really it is thus and so.  By analogy (again) this inquiry has proceeded by examining some of the major  1 ]  Critical thinking as a social practice / 69 areas of debate regarding possible,  how  particular,  certain  about  of the  concepts  logic  been  a  distorted  concerned  or  with the  confused ways  understanding.  In  in which attempts  to  foundation for claims about critical thinking by  or  nature  reflect  ideals of  of  scientific  normative  and  reasoning  have  intentional  wherever  led to  concepts.  appealling to  misunderstandings  Understanding  these  is of central importance to being clear about critical thinking.  S U M M A R Y  3.5.  To recapitulate many  senses  consistent is  positions  this inquiry has  provide an objective cannons  critical thinking and rationality, pointing out  the  any  the  major  in which  points of this chapter,  the  with the purposes  strong  normative  particular purpose  adequacy.  The relevant  word  critical can  which motivate  sense.  This  but rather standards  to are  use  it will be recalled that,  be  used,  the  one  which  of the is  most  instruction and inquiry into thinking  of  'critical'  thinking which public ones,  refers  to  thinking not  meets certain standards  generated  for of  historically in social  interaction.  This  understanding  conceptions entity.  rules  as  standards internal  Thinking is judged  thinking 'thinking  The  of  of  (actions, judgments,  as  as  social  structures,  critical or  and reasons),  constructions mechanisms,  not,  on  the  not on the  is  in  or  any  basis  of  basis  opposition other  kind  of  results  of  existence  of  the  of the  to  processes.'  notion of an ability, especially  a mental ability, was  found to be  something  Critical thinking as a social practice / 70 of a philosophical minefield. Abilities are not mysterious entities already existing in potential form in each possessor of an ability; nor are abilities to be identified with the exercise of an ability; nor are ability attributions claims about the state, the structure or the constitution of that which possesses an ability. These facts about 'ability' are devastating for the information processing approach to critical thinking, which takes for granted that there are mechanisms or processes of one type or another which will be found to explain the true nature of any given ability. What this chapter suggests is that there is no reason to believe that inner processes will correspond in any intelligible way to mental abilities.  Abilities cannot even be reduced to sets of sub-abilities without risk of confusion. This suggests that some caution is required in interpreting the multi-aspect approach as well. Specifically, the list of abilities which Ennis suggests are constitutive of critical thinking ability are best understood as a list of tasks at which a critical thinker must be competent. The list is then taken as a set of criteria for the attribution of the term critical thinking rather than an analysis of the constitutive parts of an ability.  It was noted that at least part of the appeal of approaches such as Norris's and Sternberg's, is based on a misunderstanding of meaning and explanation. The most obvious misunderstanding of meaning is associated with the idea that words must get their meaning from their reference (including  'ability')  must  refer  to  an  actual  - that any meaningful word entity.  The  most  relevant  misunderstanding of explanation is to overlook the multiplicity of kinds of explanation and think . that every explanation ought to conform to the ideal of  I  Critical thinking as a social practice / 71 certain kinds of scientific explanation. It is suggested that these misunderstandings and confusions demonstrate thinking  instruction  and  that  the  research  is  most urgent need in the not  more  field of critical  highly developed  theories  and  testing so much as a more perspicuous understanding of the relevant purposes, standards, concepts, and procedures.  4. T W O S T A N D A R D DISTINCTIONS  This chapter is devoted to the exploration of two much debated distinctions: that between critical and creative thinking and that between practical and theoretical reasoning. Besides being useful for its own sake in establishing responsible ways of  understanding  these  distinctions,  the  inquiry  will  contribute  to  our  understanding of related issues. It is of interest, for example, whether there is one overarching set of standards, or one ideal model of rationality, to which all good thinking ought to conform. If it could be established that there is some such  set  boundaries,  of standards this  which applied across both disciplinary and cultural  fact would have  significant consequences  for the issues of  generalizability and univeralizability raised in section 1.2.  Also of interest is the extent to which the standards of good thinking can be fixed and the related question of whether they can rationally be criticized or changed. If such standards are fixed, coming to think critically may be largety a matter of learning what these standards are and how they are to be applied. If, on the other hand, the standards  of good thinking are created rather than  discovered, and are subject to revision through history, being a critical thinker will be understood, at least in part, as playing a role in the ongoing construction of the standards of good thinking.  I will argue that there is not a dichotomous relationship between creative and critical thinking - that rather than identifying two categories of thinking, 'critical' and 'creative' are used to express two related sets of standards. Inquiry into 72  Two  Standard Distinctions / 73  practical and theoretic reason will show that they also, are not in a or  even  a  bi-polar, relationship. Each  is used  to express  a  cluster  dichotomous, of loosely  related values. Several examples of confusion on the part of writers about critical thinking  related  conclusion  to  drawn  the  use  is that  of  the  involves disengagement from  the  term  traditional  any  theoretic  will  be  examined.  conception of theoretic  particular perspective or any  The  reason, which  particular set of  values, is somewhat misleading for inquiry into rationality.  From this latter examination will emerge a further conception of reason which is like  the  aimed  traditional  directly  at  a  conception in that perspective  of a  conception of theoretic decision  it involves given  culture  about no  what  attempt  or  reason to  in being  do), but  to disengage  worldview.  Of  contemplative  unlike from  particular  the  (not  traditional  or transcend the importance  is the  realization that neither disengagement nor transcendence are necessary features of an  approach  which  is aimed  at  revising,  as  well  as  understanding, existing  practices. Put negatively, a more interpretive stance need not be a conservative stance.  Before taking up these issues, however, it will be useful to return briefly to the question explicitly  of how by  we  can  practitioners.  examine If, as  normative I  have  standards  suggested,  thinking is assessed are inherent in social practices and actions are criticized and justified, one to ask  obvious way  which  the  are  standards  not  stated  by  which  are the basis on which  to discover the standards is  practitioners for their reasons for acting as they do. Their reasons for  choosing to do some things and rejecting others ought to make reference to these  Two Standard Distinctions / 74 standards. An immediate problem arises, however. Many  people who can engage  successfully  or doing  in practices, such  as speaking  a language  a trade, are  unable to state many of the relevant standards or rules. Even collectively, people have been unable to enumerate practice. This  seems  people are following  the rules  which  to be a paradox. How  govern  any significant human  can it make  a set of rules or acting  sense  to say that  according to certain standards if  they cannot produce the standards when asked? But this is to make the same mistake  discussed  in the previous  implies  'being able  chapter  - to think  to produce a rule' in the way  that  that  'following  'using  a rule'  a ruler' implies  'having a ruler.'  Why  should it be surprising that people can follow a set of rules without being  able  to state them? Surely  following  under  it is onty a result of trying to assimilate  the example  of obeying  an explicit  instruction such  all rule  as, "Keep  your elbows off the table." But most of the practices in which we are interested are  not learned  aspects  exclusively, or even primarily,. through explicit instruction. Many  of most  social practices  are "picked  up" by being  around  competent  practitioners, seeing  how  they act, and listening to their judgments of products  and  The  fact  performances.  produce the relevant rules include  are hidden; competence  that  competent  practitioners  rules or standards ought not lead  it simply at giving  implies  that  the rules  practices, coming to be competent implies  competence  be  unable to  us to believe that the at a  of the practice. not having  may  practice  need not  For at least  to think  some  about the rules  anymore, so it is onty to be expected that practitioners need not be "practiced" at expressing the rules. Competence implies that one can act in accordance with  Two standards  If one  but not necessarily  is trying to  instructive  to  competent their  the  'worldview,' but  also  must or  measure  and  consider  for  explain  about  understand  practitioner,  Teachers  be  able  demonstrate  up  or  that one can  how  whom from  points  point  be  improved.  reference  to  terms  practice, of  likely  standards  student which  Judges  their  strengths  which  in  decisions  and and  enhance  not  it may  view  of  be  part  to  only  efforts make  of  critic. and  fail  to  judgments  with reference  to  rules  of  products  and  must  interpret  the  weaknesses  the  and  be the  performances  their  frequentty  75  explain them.  point  most  in  ways  must justify out  Distinctions /  of view of teacher, judge,  the  could  of a  the  are  students  Critics  in  standards  to  they  criticism  the  from  shortcomings  standards.  of  the  only  identify  but  objects  not  much less  and rules  to  behaviour,  with  standards  practice  people's  performances  the  express,  Standard  understanding  of  a  broader  audience.  These  remarks  especially  one  have  obvious  which is  intended to  of judging or judgment has teaching  are  requires  a  than  being  thinking  suggestive.  significance  already  be  They suggest  understanding  good  at  does.  While  may  provide  be  taught,  it  fact  that  critics  and  criticism  of  of this  the  into  teaching critical  hold  a  special  thinking,  The central remarks  role about  teaching critical thinking  standards  implies  insight  critical  upon, but the  that being good at  self-conscious  should  consideration  educationally perspicuous.  more  reasoning  a  been commented  teachers ought to know to be good at  The  for  little the  of about  good  thinking  how  question  of  critical "what  thinking."  relationship  to  standards  of  I Two Standard Distinctions / 76 practice is hardly surprising, but it may be useful in illuminating the way in which 'critical' is used in talking about thinking. Although an analysis of the use of the word 'critical' will not determine the standards of critical thinking, or tell us what critical thinking 'really is,' it will be useful in preventing certain misunderstandings and ensuring that certain features are not overlooked. While extensive analysis is not required, a few points do require attention. They can be brought out in discussion of the relationship between critical and creative thought.  4.1. C R I T I C A L &  The phrase  CREATIVE  THINKING  'critical thinking' has often been taken  to refer  to a purely  evaluational activity, or the identification of flaws in arguments. Robert Ennis's original characterization  of critical thinking was "the correct assessment of  statements." He referred to it as being a "kind of thinking" which could be distinguished from other kinds of thinking such as creative thinking, whether or not they could be distinguished in practice (1967, p. 117).  1  A teacher whom I  met recently suggested that his school had adopted a program of "productive thinking" because it covered the full range of critical thinking, creative thinking, problem solving and the like. Sharon Bailin, citing theorists such as Glaser and de Bono, suggests that the "prevailing" or "standard view" of critical thinking (mistakenly) "sets up a sharp separation between" critical and creative thinking (1986, pp. 2-3). But, while there is no reason that we could not adopt this "standard view" it is not consistent with the conception of 'critical thinking' T hi later formulations he recognized that "critical thinking is a practical activity" which includes "creative activities" (1985, p. 45).  Two Standard Distinctions / 77 which I have begun to elucidate, nor does it capture the full range of what educators in general wish to accomplish under the label of critical thinking. As was pointed out above, 'critical,' as it is used in 'critical thinking,' does not refer to a special kind of thinking, but rather to thinking which is judged to meet certain standards. It is recognized above that 'critical' is sometimes used to refer to the habit of identifying flaws and shortcomings exclusively, but that is not its only use and it is argued, is not the most useful way to conceptualize critical thinking.  In many contexts, the distinction between the creative or productive aspect of inquiry, and the critical or evaluative aspect, is overstated or used misleadingly. Positivist philosophers of science developed a distinction which is usually referred to under the the labels 'context of discovery' and 'context of justification.' Some philosophers of science have suggested that discovery, or the creation of novel hypotheses, is essentially mysterious and intuitive - perhaps inexplicable, but that justification, or the evaluation of hypotheses, . proceeds according to established rules. Others are simply suggsting that there are two distinguishable phases of scientific discovery. Consider the words of Israel Scheffler, "Objectivity, in general, is a matter of test, control, and critique, and it characterizes the processing of ideas that have been independently and freely generated" (1967, p. 68), and "Creation is free; discipline enters in the evaluation of a theory's empirical adequacy, its logical coherence, and its relative simplicity" (p. 69). An incautious interpretation  of such phrases  could lead  one to think that discovery is  completely free and unconstrained and that justification is according to some definitive procedure. It would suggest that critique was categorically different (or,  Two Standard Distinctions / 78 a different "kind of thinking") than creation or discovery. If such a view could be justified, it might suggest that criticism and evaluation were thinking of a different sort than creative thinking, that critical thinking was not only an evaluative phrase, but also one which identified 'thinking for a particular purpose' and 'according to a particular procedure.' There are many reasons for rejecting such a model for understanding the progress of science or the way in which people undertake  other sorts of tasks. The following section  explores some  considerations from the philosophy of science which demonstrate that, to the extent  that  discovery  can be usefully  distinguished  from justification, the  distinction is more one of degree than a distinction between categories. We may have more developed and better articulated standards for justification than for discovery, but they are closely linked and both are rule-governed.  We might begin by recognizing that the range of possible novel hypotheses is not infinite; in fact it is determined by our linguistic practices at any given time.  1  Nelson Goodman has argued  that only those concepts which are suitably  entrenched in our linguistic practices are suitable as predicates in conditionals, predictions, and counterfactuals  (1983). He suggests that we could invent the  predicate 'grue' which would be used to refer to anything which has been green in the past but will be blue in the future (or after any particular point in the future). Although it seems as though 'grue' is a ridiculous predicate, requiring a miraculous change in colour at some arbitrary point in time, this is true only in relation to our existing stock of colour concepts. Relative to a set of concepts T. Our practices may change but there are limits to how much of our existing practice we can give up without becoming incoherent: there are limits to how radically we can change.  Two Standard Distinctions / 79 including grue, bleen, and purlow, all our colour concepts would exhibit this disquieting transformation. But any evidence that we have for an object being green will serve equally well as evidence for an object being grue. Given this problem, how can one explain that everyone is willing to accept the statement (1), "If I mixed blue and yellow paint I would get green paint," but no one accepts (2), "If I mixed blue and yellow paint I would get grue paint,"?  1  Goodman's answer is that 'green' has been entrenched in our language whereas 'grue'  has not.  2  Thus, our ability to predicate can be seen to be constrained by  the history of our linguistic practice.  A rather different objection to drawing a sharp distinction between discovery and justification, or creative  and critical thought, is apparent in Imre Lakatos's  account of the progress of science.  3  Lakatos supports Popper's position that  "scientific change is rational or at least rationally reconstructible" (1970, p. 93). Science is '"revolution in permanence', and criticism is at the heart of the . Notice that this kind of inference, a kind of inference which is common in scientific reasoning, escapes formalization in syntactic rules. All premises in support of. statement 1 equally support statement 2, yet sufficient support of 1 is not taken to be sufficient to establish 2. Short of simply prescribing that 'logic' will be taken to refer to any sort of systematic reasoning, it is hard to see how a logic approach could be interpreted as a comprehensive approach to reasoning. . As Kripke has pointed out, this is (pretty much) the same point that Wittgenstein makes when he discusses the impossibility of private language (1982). In Wittgensteinian language, our practices incline us 'to go on' in some ways but not in others. Once one has accepted the private language argument, the notion that the production of novel hypotheses is not rule-governed but that justificatory claims are, is implausible. The fact that a new hypothesis can be expressed in words shows that it is part of a rule-governed practice. . It may be interesting to note that Scheffler accuses Kuhn of ignoring the distinction between justification and discovery and suggesting that psychological factors were involved in justificatory, as well as creative, aspects of science, while Lakatos accusses Kuhn (p. 93) of failing to recognize that there is a logic 2  3  of discovery not simply a psychology of discovery.  Two Standard Distinctions / 80 scientific enterprise" (p. 92). As Lakatos goes on to say, his account of the evolution of scientific knowledge (sophisticated methodological falsificationism) is "a theory of criticism" (p. 114)  according to which a theory cannot be falsified  "before the emergence of a better theory" (p. 119).  In Feyerabend's words  (quoted on the same page) "The best criticism is provided by those theories which can replace the rivals they have removed."  On these accounts, criticism is inseparable from the creation of new hypotheses and the evolution of science. While all falsificationist theories are theories of criticism, Lakatos describes the result of his particular formulation as follows: "... the distinctively negative character  of naive falsificationism vanishes; criticism  becomes more difficult, and also positive, constructive" (p. 120). The sense in which Lakatos uses criticism recognizes the intimate relation between creation and criticism. It does justice to the fact that critique can involve the imaginative use of counter-examples or the construction of plausible alternatives as well as the fact that novel creations can only be judged as novel or worthwhile against a set of standards and within a relatively stable worldview. While particularly significant new ideas may shift the way we look at some aspect of the world and even alter the standards by which ideas of a certain type are evaluated, the same holds true for particularly cogent critiques of important ideas.  Having recognized that no heavy black line can be drawn between creative and critical  thinking,  it  can  be  noted  that  the  two  words  are  not used  interchangeably. It is far more natural to use the word 'critical' to refer to the works of a theoretical scientist, a philosopher, or an historian, than it is to the  Two Standard Distinctions / 81 work of a sculptor or a dancer.  1  'Critical,' at least in the sense that it is used  in 'critical thinking,' seems to find its natural home with reference to standards of rationality. Like the word creative, however, the word critical is not generally applied to the mundane or mechanical following of procedures, no matter how correct the result may be. Most commonly, 'critical' is used to indicate that there is some evidence of good judgment or even inspiration in the application of standards. As Passmore suggests, "A critical person ... must possess initiative, independence, courage, imagination, of a kind which may be completely absent in, let us say, the skilful critic of the performance of a laboratory technician" (1967, p. 198).  It has been noted that the standards to which 'critical' in this sense, refers are the standards of rationality. Unfortunately, this fact is of little assistance in simplifying the task of coming to understand it. Debate about the nature of rationality has been extensive and, in many ways, inconclusive. Even a survey of the ways in which rationality has been the focus of philosophical debates could be a thesis in itself. There is one issue, however, which is of central importance to becoming clear about critical thinking. It concerns the relationship between theoretical and practical reason.  . Art critics and literary critics evaluate according to aesthetic standards (and possibly other standards as well). Notice that critics may be creative in their own right and that their insights may be constructive as well as 'critical.'  Two Standard Distinctions / 82 4.2. T H E O R E T I C A L  One  AND PRACTICAL  of the most longstanding debates  focussed on the distinction between  REASON  about the nature  theoria  of rationality has  and phronesis, or theoretical reason  and practical reason. Like many other distinctions, this one has been construed in different ways for different purposes. In its most general use, it refers to the distinction between reasoning about what is, or what is true, and reasoning about what is good, or right, or what course of action ought to be pursued in a particular context. This is, of course, an outrageously vague way of characterizing the distinction. Obviously, there are some claims about what is good or right which are questions about what is the case, rather than being questions about what ought to be done in any given context. However, given the nature of the problem at hand, that is, establishing some general features of the standards of rationality,  a more precise  definition is not required; in fact,  this broad  characterization will permit a wider exploration of some issues.  1  Much work in critical thinking,  as well as much philosophical work, has  displaj'ed a marked tendency to either ignore issues distinctively related to practical reasoning or to attempt to subsume questions of practical reasoning under a theoretic model. Sometimes, theoretical reason has been taken to be the T For those interested in the lively debates about how one can specify the distinction between practical and theoretical reasoning in a more precise way, especially focussing on the nature of the conclusions of practical reasoning, Donald Davidson, H.P. Grice, and Gilbert Harman are three philosophers who have offered such specifications (references to all three can be found in Harman, 1987). Discussion of this issue with regard to problems in critical thinking can be found in Jerrold Coombs "Response to Alan Pearson" (1988). While these issues are interesting and may be important in sorting out some questions, this inquiry is a very general one and does not seem to be affected by the adoption of any particular interpretation of the distinction.  Two Standard Distinctions / 83 highest form of reason and practical reason has been understood to be a less perfect, less developed, or less rigourous form of reason.  This section will begin by characterizing a positivist approach to understanding this distinction, showing its inadequacies and its apparent influence on literature in the field of critical thinking. Reasons will also be offered for rejecting some aspect of alternative  approaches  (such as Norris's scientific realism or some  versions of 'naturalized' epistemology)  which involve the  attempt to reduce  intentional and normative terms to theoretic entities. An example of this is the common attempt to treat beliefs as representations.  Some other confusions in  writing about critical thinking related to a misundertanding of the relationship between theoretic and practical reason are catalogued. These include the tendency to understand all practical reasoning as the application of covering laws to instances and confusion of explicit knowledge with theoretic knowledge.  Drawing on the work of Kovesi and Lovibond, I argue for a reinterpretation of the relationship in question, one which does away with a dichotomized view of facts and values without attempting to collapse practical reasoning into a special type of theoretic reasoning. This lays the groundwork for the the following section in which I suggest an alternative to the goal of developing a theoretic understanding of critical thinking. This is important, I argue, especially to the extent that 'theoretic' understanding is taken to involve disengagement from our purposes and values.  Positivist doctrines about meaning and epistemology, which restrict the kinds of  Two claims which are meaningful  Standard  Distinctions / 84  to those which can be empirically verified and  those  which are logically true, leave no room for rational evaluation of desires, values, and  intentions or  of  the  ends  for  which  actions  judgments, which form the major premises and are  regarded  according  to  this  stricture,  are  undertaken.  conclusions of practical arguments,  as  either  being  meaningless  expressing facts (verifiable by observation) about the relevant person's desires.  If they  understanding  are  meaningless,  Normative  practical  reasoning  cannot  be  or  as  attitudes or rational.  But  normative judgments as facts about attitudes or desires is no more  satisfactory.  Any  superficial plausibility  such  an  account  might have when used  the practical reasoning of others disappears if one reasoning. Neither one's preferences nor to  oneself on  considers one's own  one's values  the basis of observation. One  about which  analyze practical  are established or verified  does not look into one's self  discover one's desires or the conditions for their satisfaction. One reason  to  of one's desires ought to take  realization of some desired state would be  a  may,  and  in fact,  precedence or whether  the  good thing, all things considered.  Some desires can be changed at will, and many others can be altered over time. We  can often distinguish between what we  is in our  best interests or what  which attempt to understand are hardpressed  to account  considering one's own  The  want the most and  we- ought to pursue.  what we believe  Reductionist approaches  practical decisions in terms of theoretical reasoning for these distinctions which seem so commonplace in  reasoning.  foregoing is particularly important if one  is considering critical thinking from  Two Standard Distinctions / 85 a pedagogical point of view. If our goal is to develop a way of talking about critical thinking which makes sense to students and is useful in helping them to think better, it ought to make sense in a first person account. It ought to be perspicuous from the point of view of someone trying to reason as well as they can, not merely from the external standpoint of someone considering another person's reasoning.  1  J  One of the kinds of tasks important to reasoning responsibly  about one's own actions involves the choosing and balancing of various desires and other values. But, we do not seek evidence for or against our desires as we do for a theoretic claim. Nor do we experiment to see what values we hold or what our reasons are, although we may reason about our values and change them on the basis of experience. A useful account of critical thinking ought to do justice to these distinctions.  If one glances through the literature of critical thinking from the 1950's and 1960's, it is striking the extent to which the strictures of the logical positivists are represented in the choice of problems to be addressed. This is not meant to imply that those writers subscribed to logical positivism, merely that positivism had influenced intellectual thought in ways that were still evident in the writing of the 1960's. More than three quarters of Max Black's book, Critical Thinking, is devoted to deductive logic and the scientific method, and the balance is concerned with informal fallacies and problems of meaning. While Black certainly recognizes the importance of context to determining the meaning, and therefore the truth value, of statements, there is no section devoted to understanding ^ That there isadifference here is well marked by the grammar of our language. As Wittgenstein has pointed out, "It is correct to saj' T know what you are thinking', and wrong to say T know what I am thinking.'" (PI, II, p. 222).  < ^  t^  > ^  ft  I Two Standard Distinctions / 86 normative judgments. In 1967, Robert Ennis still used a definition of critical thinking as "the correct assessing of statements" and, although he recognized that value statements should be included as being worthy of evaluation, he explicitly refrained from including them in his list of aspects of critical thinking.  1  While he has since amended his conception to include judging value statements, it is instructive to see what an extensive problem it was for his account. One of the consequences of setting aside value statements is that Ennis's paper can give no guidance in the area of second order reflection on the conclusions in several of the 12 aspects of critical thinking which he does identify. To give an example: if one is "judging whether a definition is adequate" (aspect #11) one's conclusion will be a value judgment according to some standard of adequacy. If Ennis's paper does not cover "the judging of value statements," it does not cover this judgment, but this type of judgment is typically involved in any critical thinking. Critical thinkers, if they are to remain critical, must ask, "Is this assesment fair?  Are my reasons  good enough? Have I grasped the most  important point?" All these questions demand answers which are value statements and making well-founded judgments about these statements is fundamental to being a critical thinker.  A possible explanation for Ennis not being inclined to see this as being as much of a problem as I make it out to be may be that he does not regard judgments of adequacy, reliability, and the like, as being value judgments. In T See Ennis (1967, p! 117) for his list of aspects and the mention of value statements. As is well known, he later (1980) amended his definition of critical thinking to include reasoning about what to do.  I Two conversation, he  suggested  aesthetic standards.  1  Standard Distinctions / 87  that "value statements"  implies reference to moral or  I (following Paul Taylor, 1961  and, more directly, the work  of Jerrold Coombs) have been using "value statements" or "normative judgments" to  refer to claims made with reference to intellectual  well  as  moral,  disagreement Thinking,  prudential,  over  Ennis  indicates  In  that  inference  standards. But,  his  there  most are  recent "three  value judging (Norris and  it is presumably a matter  2  asked  aesthetic  definitions.  deduction, induction, and is so,  and  is employed. Given  this  book, basic  standards  is not  simply  Evaluating  types  Ennis, 1989,  as a  Critical  of inference":  pp. 6-7). If this  of some import that the appropriate type of  these  in the preceeding paragraph  or rational  choices, it seems  clear  that the  questions  demand answers which involve the judging of  values.  Many  critical thinking texts and  problems  of logic  conclusions)  with  and little  theory or  no  programs still follow the format  (the  relating  attention  to  of observation normative  claims  issues  or  of addressing to the  theoretic specific  character of practical reasoning (e.g. Harnadek, 1980). Significantly, none of the recognized tests of critical thinking even attempts  to measure competence at the  tasks which are distinctive to practical reasoning (e.g.'s the ability to test one's  . I would suggest that this is a much narrower interpretation of the term than is usual. In fact, I believe that Ennis is not consistent in using the term this narrowly himself. One example from his own work which implies a more general understanding of what values are is from the authors' preface of a recent work by Norris and Ennis: "Since one element common to all evaluations is that decisions must be made about the relative value of things, we urge that value judgments cannot be avoided (1989, p. xvii). . I accept this characterization of the relationship between deduction, induction, and value judging simply for the basis of this argument. 1  2  Two Standard Distinctions / 88 principles or to reflect constructively regarding one's intentions).  1  But, restricting  critical thinking to problems of logic and the relation of observation to theory is no more sensible than restricting the category of meaningful statements to those which are unambiguously true or false according to observation statements and tautologies.  Choice of content,  or the nature of the problems which are taken to be  significant, is only one of the ways in which an emphasis on theoretic over practical reason has adversely affected research into critical thinking. A variation of this position, sometimes adopted by those enamoured with a model of scientific reasoning, is exemplified by the tendency to see all reasoning as subsumable under a theoretic framework in which all practical judgments are dependent on the application of general theories to specific cases, j Those who reason without explicit reference  to theories  are  thought to be using tacit theories. When  practical reasoning is pictured in this manner, it seems like an inferior form of theoretic reasoning - inferior because it involves the assumption of theoretical positions which are not amenable to critical reflection.  The notion that reasoning  about specific instances  j  involves necessarily  the  application of general laws has, no doubt, been a contributing factor to a varietj' of rather dubious practices in the teaching of critical thinking as well. Most obviously, it reinforces the widespread notion that, in order to learn how to think critically students must learn the 'forms of argument' or forms of explanation, T Some questions on" the Cornell tests are framed as questions about what to do but in each case the point at issue is one of belief rather than one which depends primarily on arbitrating between competing values.  Two Standard Distinctions / 89 disengaged from the distractions provided  by content and context,  apply  forms  the lesson  learned  with  abstract  to the practical,  then learn to contextualized  problems of the real world. This problem is most clearly demonstrated by those who adopt the logic approach.  The  dubious assumptions underlying this strategy are many. The most obvious is  displayed in the realization that most people learn an enormously complex set of practices  governing  inductive  reasoning,  inferences  (including  conditionals  and  inferences  in practical  counterfactuals,  none  argumentation,  of which  can be  expressed in formalized systems of rules) without even meeting a 'p', a 'q', or a modus ponens.  Assuming that this approach is the only or the best approach is  like thinking we should teach children the language by starting with the rules of grammar.  Yet  other  problems are manifest in the tendency of those interested in critical  thinking as argument analysis, to refer to any • "rigourous" or "explicit" knowledge as 'theoretical.' For example, Johnson and Blair refer to those unacquainted with the  names of fallacies  p. 34). This has  as "not be[ing] conversant  apparent confusion  with  fallacy-theory" (1983,  of 'explicit' knowledge with theoretic knowledge  been widespread and destructive. It leads people to misunderstand the role of  knowledge  in a  variety  of practices  including  the practices  of thinking and  teaching. It is important to realize that knowing the rules of a game or knowing a  reliable  regardless  procedure of how  for making  pastry  is not having  'theoretic  knowledge'  explicitly one can express the relevant rules or procedures.  1  . Perhaps some degree of caution is required in claiming that knowledge of the rules of a game is not theoretic knowledge. It is, in fact, knowledge about what 1  \~~~~~  Two  Thinking  Standard Distinctions / 90  that all explicit knowledge is theoretic leads  people to think that  only expressible knowledge about practices (including both thinking and must  come  from  theory  based  on  research  of  a  scientific  kind,  teaching)  rather  simply on accounts of good practice. This leads to a denigration of important reliable sources  Another John  This  McPeck, that  notion,  ordinary  we  that  we  has  in Stephen  establish what  and  we  we  Norris's  mean  by  suggestion, claims  criticized  by  abilities  by  about  "arise from mental structures" (1986, p. 1981).  cannot  until  make it scientifically  of  is displayed  mental processes  language  common. As  than  of knowledge.  manifestation  examining how  the  be  clear  explore  respectable  the  in some  about  what  relevant other  we  mean  phenomena  way,  with  perfectly  experimentally  is unfortunate,  if all too  been pointed out, making our concepts conform to the  conceptualization  necessary  for  many  kinds  of  scientific  or  inquiry  standards involves  (cont'd) is the case, and therefore fits the criterion of theoretic knowledge according to one of the common formulations of the concept. Further, it is possible that one could watch people playing a game one did not know and develop a theory about the rules by which they were operating. In cases such as this, -the relevant knowledge is more like a typical example of theoretic knowledge in that the truth of the theory is tested against evidence gathered by observation. But in more ordinary cases, in which the ultimate test of the authority of the rules is their provenance and their acceptance as displayed in the practices and judgments of competent players, knowing the rules of the game is not having theoretic knowledge of the game. . In philosophy a parallel problem has existed over the question of the need for 'theories of meaning'. A.J. Ayer has discussed this briefly in noting that while Wittgenstein's influence on philosophy has been profound, much of the debate about theories of meaning has ignored one of his central theses - that the kind of understanding we are most in need of in philosophy, especially in regard to concepts like meaning, is not theoretical (1985, pp. 137 & 142-3). Ayer, as well as some more S3 mpathetic critics of Wittgenstein, is not impressed by Wittgenstein's stated preference for description over explanation, arguing that it is more of a pose than a principle which guided Wittgenstein's own work. The next section may be useful in seeing how a more constructive interpretation of Wittgenstein's distinction could be made. 0  1  r  Two changing  them. With  something  interesting  meaning  these and  of the ordinary  new,  changed  worthwhile, language  Standard Distinctions / 91  concepts, one  but it will  may  be  not involve  concepts in which  able  to do  establishing the  the original problem  was  framed.  This tendency understand  is also displayed by those who  produce  of expressing this tendency  is as the attempt  a "naturalized" epistemology or theory of rationality. This attitude is  prevalent  among  including  philosophers Fred  philosopher who with  cannot be said to  epistemology or rationalitj' unless they can be reduced to a set of  more scientific concepts. One way to  imply that we  theoretic  those  interested  in artificial  Dretske,  at least approaches ones is Gilbert  Jerry  intelligence Fodor,  and  and cognitive  science,  John  Another  Perry.  the brink of confusing such normative issues  Harman  in his book entitled  Change  in View.  1  Because radical positions in favour of both the need for, and the possibility of, a naturalized theory of rationality are so obviously at odds with the account being developed  in this  detail. Treatment goes beyond  my  thesis, there seems little need  to explicate the differences in  of major parts of Harman's more subtle and self-aware acounts immediate  objectives. Nonetheless, one general objection  which  applies to Harman, as well as the more obvious advocates of naturalized versions of normative enterprises, can be made.  It seems significant that almost all attempts to produce a naturalized account of reason  rely  representation.  on  a  reduction  Harman's  of  account  the  concept  is somewhat  of more  belief  to  the  sophisticated  notion of  in that  he  . Whether Quine should be included on this list is a complex question, as is made clear by Putnam (1983, pp. 240-5). 1  Two Standard Distinctions / 92 allows that there are "implicit beliefs" as well as beliefs which are "explicit mental representations."  1  Nonetheless, it is explicit beliefs, or  representations,  which must do most, if not all of the work in his theory. For example, it is explicit beliefs to which his "principle of clutter avoidance," applies. But there is 2  little reason to accept that a theory of how we do, could, or should revise "mental representations" is a theory of belief revision. By this, I am not saying that beliefs may not be accompanied by mental representations  - we often  associate a certain mental picture (for instance, the colour and shape of a book located amongst other books) with a certain belief (for instance, that the book is in a certain location). Sometimes the representation may take linguistic form, as a string of phonemes or perhaps as visual symbols.  We may note that sensations are like representations in this regard, i.e. they may be typical accompaniments of certain beliefs. The belief that I am about to taste a delicious meal, for instance, may bring on a whole complex of pleasant sensations. But neither the representation, in • whatever form, or the sensations, are the beliefs. It is easy to imagine situations in which one might experience 3  T Implicit beliefs are not to be confused with beliefs which are held subconciously or unconsciously. The examples of categories of implicit beliefs given by Harman include those beliefs which are implied, or otherwise inferrable, or in some other way presupposed by one's explicit beliefs (1987, p. 13.). A hostile critic might construe these as 'unrepresented representations'. . "Clutter avoidance" is the notion that we do not/should not form, or hold on to; trivial beliefs. This idea plays an important role in his account of how beliefs become vulnerable to revision. . This is quite different from the potential objection which Harman attempts to forestall, that might be made b}' a logical behaviourist such as Daniel Dennett. His objection would be to the idea that there are such things as explicit beliefs. Harman addresses this behaviourist objection although it is not clear that his response is adequate. In particular, it is not clear what is being referred to by the phrase, "whatever explicit thing underlies belief." If it is behaviour or brain states which underlie belief (surely the most obvious choices for Dennett), it is difficult to make sense of the word 'explicit' in this phrase. 2  3  Two Standard Distinctions / 93 the same mental representation or the same sensation without belief.  Similarly,  representation. fascinating  one  One  lecture  might  might, without  have  the belief  for instance, ever  without  believe  experiencing  any  that  having  the same  the sensation one  particular  was  or the  attending  "being  a  fascinated"  sensation or having the phrase, "This is a fascinating lecture," occur.  The  mistake of conflating beliefs  with  representations  seems to be a result of  trying to turn beliefs into entities of the sort which are amenable to the kind of theorizing which Harman, Sternberg, beliefs  take  metaphorical  up  space,  be  and others wish to do. But the notion that  it mental  or  sense, seems a questionable  otherwise,  in any  more  than  a  assumption. Further, the notion that we  can quantify beliefs in any way which is relevant to their "taking up space" is also questionable.  The fact that we  can individuate a belief under  a  'content'  description (as the belief that X) does not mean that it can be individuated at some  other  Thinking  level  of description, for instance,  of beliefs  as representations  at the level  makes - it  easy  of neural  activity.  to think, however, that  beliefs exist as identifiable objects in the mind.  Yet another consequence of seeing scientific or theoretic knowledge as the highest or  best  form  of rationality  is manifest  in the assumption  knowledge are brought about by bringing our understanding aspects of the world is appropriate some areas application  that  increases in  of more and more  under a theoretic model. If, however, a theoretic approach  or productive in only some kinds of inquiry or for the study of  of human  interest, this belief is ungrounded. The development and  of theoretical understanding  of some  aspects  of our world  may  be  Two Standard Distinctions / 94 unproductive or run contrary to other human values. In the words of Charles Taylor: The kind of thinking favoured by the  modern understandings of  freedom and reason is disengaged. That is, it is the kind which strives to draw as little as possible on our implicit understanding of the context of practice in which we act, so that discourse is as far as possible comprehensible independent of particular life experiences and cultural settings.  While Taylor recognizes  the worth of striving in this direction for certain  purposes, he warns: ... this ideal distorts practical reason beyond all recognition. By its very nature practical reason can only function within the context of some implicit grasp of the good, be it that mediated by a practice to which this good is internal or by practices which contribute to it as cause and constituent, or by contact with paradigm models, in life or story, or however (1988, p. 18).  In a variety of traditions of social theory and philosophy, writers have sought an account of rationality which is more inclusive than the positivist, or as Taylor more broadly labels it, the 'modern' conception. While there is much debate and disagreement about some aspects of such an account, there is general agreement that it must proceed from within the structure of existing norms and beliefs (rather than from some Archimedean point or outside source of revelation) and  Two that  it must  include  a  range  of normative,  dimensions. Philosophers are less inclined  Standard Distinctions / 95  as  well  as  logical  to see  their  own  and  empirical  particular  historical  and cultural context as being irrelevant, or as being interference with, doing good philosophy  or thinking clearly. In general, the possibility  perspective  is  philosophy  denied.  Further,  1  emphasizes  the  the  generally  extent to which  of a  pragmatic  truly trend  questions of truth  or  disengaged in  recent  adequacy of  claims are dependent on human purposes.  Among other factors, these trends in philosophy have led to a deemphasis on the disengaged  theoretical  perspective  contextual  and  reasoning.  Conceptions  of  normative  element  based,  rationality,  normative  one  are  which  and  issues  -  critical  has  a  of  those  issues  which  thinking  which  do  I would  been  recognition  suggest,  criticized  on  quite  importance  characterize  not an  the  do  justice  of  practical to  the  obsolete conception of  relentlessly  by  a  range  of  philosophers since the 1920's.  Not surprisingly, one of the areas of study which has been most concerned with developing  an  adequate  account  of  practical  reason  which  emphasizes  its  rationality is the field of ethics. Ethics has a special concern with decisions about what one  ought to do. Thus, ethics provides a rich field in which to find ideas  which lead to a more constructive construal of the relationship between theoretic and ideas  practical from  reason the  work  than  the  one  of Julius  criticized  Kovesi  and  above. Of Sabina  particular  Lovibond.  interest  Together,  are they  T There are exceptions. Thomas Nagel, for instance, argues that it is possible to abandon one's own point of view and adopt The View from Nowhere (the title of his 1986 book).  Two Standard Distinctions / 96 outline  what  language,  1  I  will  refer  to as  which can be contrasted  an  'expressive'  approach  to understanding  to the representational, or 'picture-theory' of  language adopted by the logical positivists from Wittgenstein's  early work.  Kovesi attacks the purported dichotomy between descriptive terms and evaluative ones. He points out that, while the term "yellow" the term one  is a  functions very differently than  "good," that the difference is not attributable simply descriptive  term  and the other  is evaluative.  to the fact that  It is the case, for  instance, that one can have two objects which are exactly the same in terms of perceptual  characteristics except  that  one is yellow  and one is not. But one  cannot have two objects (or actions) which are exactly the same but one is good and  the other  is not. Goodness is not an independent quality in the way  that  yellowness i s . But this should not lead us to imagine that there is a difference 2  in metaphysical status between evaluative and descriptive claims - that descriptive qualities  are real  in a  sense  that  evaluative  qualities  are not. As  Kovesi  demonstrates, neither "yellow" nor "good" are typical examples of descriptive and evaluative terms.  The  terms "table" and "murder" are also a pair of descriptive and evaluative  terms, but "table" is more like "good" than "yellow" one  - that is,  cannot have two objects which are exactly the same except that one is a  table and one is not. In the case of neither \  in this respect  "tables" nor "murders" can one  The term is Lovibond's (1983).  . One would need to specify some sort of ceterus., paribus clause specifying that the same sort of goodness was being judged in the same sort of context, in order to counter possible objections, but as we will see, some such specifications would be required in the case of descriptive terms which share this characteristic of lacking independence from other qualities. 2  Two specify what makes them phenomenal qualities.  the same in terms of their physical characteristics or  What makes one  1  Standard Distinctions / 97  table "come to the  same thing,"  to use  Kovesi's felicitous phrase, as another, is its use or its place in our lives - the fact that people generally find it useful to have level surfaces on which to set things  and  predominantly  "murder" come to the  planar surfaces on  same thing  as another  which  to work. What  is the importance  makes  one  in our lives of  blaming people or invoking sanctions of various types as a means of controlling people's actions.  Kovesi notes that Hume, one of the founders of the tradition of modernity which has been criticized as providing inadequate conceptions of practical reasoning, was correct  in pointing  existence'  which  something  called  out  we  that  call  "we  vice"  (1967,  'table' over and  present in order that something  cannot p.  find  that  'matter  of  fact  18). But  neither  do  we  above the material elements  or  real  "perceive  that have to be  should be a table" (p. 19). He continues:  In an important sense, in the world there is no value and there are no  murders,  language  tables,  houses,  is not about  accidents or  inadvertent acts.  that world in which there is no  But  our  value or no  tables, houses, accidents or inadvertent acts. That world, the world of raw  data, cannot be described for the sense of that world  outside  it and  the  very  description  of it, likewise,  lies  also lies outside of  T Kovesi uses the phrase "material elements" to refer to these characteristics while Coombs draws a similar distinction by speaking of the "experiential meaning" of a concept. The contrasting terms are, respectively, "formal elements" and "relational meaning."  Two Standard Distinctions / 98  it.  1  (p.  19).  Lovibond expresses the reverse  side of this realization. She argues that, contrary  to the position of 'non-cognitivist' writers in the field  of ethics, our evaluative  judgments are not glosses or interpretations laid over our "descriptive" or factual perceptions.  To return to Kovesi's example, our perception  murder is as direct as our perception raw  or unconditioned  perception  that something is a  that something is a table. Neither  is a  of reality, nor is either necessarilj based on an r  inference from some more basic level of perception. Both are coloured interests, as all our perceptions  are. Lovibond  argues that  some  by human  moral  claims  express directly perceivable facts in the same way that anyone standing in front of an appropriate an  piece of furniture would accept that, "This is a table," states  empirical fact directly  verifiable through the senses. Thus, in terms of the  world which human beings inhabit and make sense of, things such as 'kind acts' or 'murders' are as real as, or are of the same metaphysical status as, things such as tables and collisions of billiard balls.  To  be clear, it is important to point out that acceptance of the 'realist'  2  position  argued for by Kovesi and Lovibond and sketched briefly in this account, does not necessitate  accepting  the  claim  that  evaluative  terms  cannot  usefully  be  T He goes on tosay that the closest analogy we have to words that would mirror the world of data are colour words. . This kind of realism is to be differentiated from the scientific realism of Stephen Norris and of the earlier works of Hilary Putnam. The realism of Kovesi and Lovibond is the recognition that the metaphysical status of murders or values is the same as that of collisions of billiard balls or electrons. That any of these things form meaningful categories is similarly dependent on human purposes and ways of life. 2  Two distinguished according  from  to  arguments do  the  descriptive same  rules  not warrant  terms, and  or  that  standards  Standard Distinctions / 99  normative as  discourse  theoretic  operates  discourse. These  a rejection of the naturalistic fallacy. What they do  imply is that the application of moral  notions is not more subjective than the  application of descriptive terms because one refers to 'real' properties whereas the other merely expresses a feeling about something. Further, they imply that value judgments are no less rational or appropriate as objects of rational criticism than empirical claims are. If it is the case that there tends to be over  whether  something  whether something fact  that  the  is or  is not  a  table  than  there  less controversy  tends  to be  over  is or is not a vicious act, the difference does not lie in the  criteria  for  tables  are  more  objective  than  the  criteria  for  viciousness.  1  While I will not attempt to rehearse here the differences between the norms and procedures of theoretical and practical reasoning, I do think that two the relationship are important to consider. One  features of  is that practical reason does have  a certain autonomy from theoretical reason. All the facts about what is the case (in  the  more  ordinary understanding  of 'facts' rather  than  Lovibond's) do  not  necessarily lead to a conclusion about what ought to be done. But it is certainly  . It seems reasonable to assume that the explanation for this difference is rooted in the different place of moral terms and descriptive terms in our ways of life. Moral terms are used to assign praise and blame and form part of a network by which we establish rewards and punishments. Being successful at disputing approbations and drawing commendations is an achievement with direct consequences for how one is treated from a very early age. Attributing and evading responsibility continue to have importance . for how we are treated and how we are justified in treating others. The practice of disputing the use of more purely descriptive terms is not typically associated with similar urgency or payoff. I should point out that this is very different from the explanation which Lovibond offers.  Two Standard Distinctions / 100 not the case that beliefs are irrelevant to the responsible or rational formation of intentions. The second feature of the relationship is that it is extemely difficult to state categorically the differences between theoretic and practical reason. If we reconsider the quotation earlier in this chapter from Charles Taylor, that "By its very nature practical reason can only function within the context of some implicit grasp of the good..." we might note that all reasoning takes place within the context of some "implicit grasp" of what constitutes a valid inference or a "good" argument, among other things. I am not trying to suggest that Taylor does not realize this point or that he is offering this statement as a formulation of the distinction. He is using this phrase to indicate how a central ideal of theoretic  reasoning,  that  of disengagement,  is  detrimental  to  an  adequate  conceptualization of practical reason. As such, he might be understood, though surely he would not wish to be, as saying that practical reason is characterized by this "implicit grasp" of certain central goods or values in a way in which theoretic reason is not.  The most it is reasonable to claim is that theoretical  reason involves the attempt to disengage oneself from any particularities in one's conception of the good which might be specific to an individual or cultural/political group. However, not all values or commitments to certain goods can be avoided. Most obviously, a commitment to the  worth of establishing the truth is  presupposed when one engages in any inquiry, no matter how theoretic.  Gilbert Harman suggests a distinction between practical and theoretic reason by suggesting that: In practical reasoning one can be justified in satisficing even in choosing among competing plans at the same level. In fact, this is  Two often what one  should  do - make an  plan to accomplish one's goals. But be justified in making an  Standard Distinctions /  101  arbitrary choice of a satisfactory in theoretic reason one  arbitrary choice  would not  of what to believe among  competing hypotheses at the same level (1987, p. 68).  While  this  certainly  has  Lakatos's reconstruction arbitrariness formulation denying  or  some  immediate  plausibility,  careful  reflection  of scientific evolution might suggest that there  convention  involved  in  theoretic  reasoning  than  on  is more Harman's  of this distinction would incline us to believe. Once again, I am  that  there  is a  distinction  which  can  be  that the distinctions are perhaps more subtle and  drawn, but  I am  complex than can  not  suggesting be  captured  at this level of abstraction.  Harman offers a further distinction between the two  kinds of reasoning  by  noting  that the role of desires is different in practical from theoretic reasoning. The that one  wants to do  (or intending  to  reason of any  do  something is a prima  it) whereas  the  desire  kind for believing it to be  facie reason in favour that  something  be  of doing it  true  true (1987, p. 77). (He  fact  is not  a  qualifies this  claim carefully so as to avoid asserting that desires are irrelevant to theoretical reason.) While the claim  seems well-founded, it is hardly  nature of the relationship between practical and statement of one  of the criteria by which we  a discovery  about the  theoretical reason so much as a  differentiate them. Consider Charles  Taylor's definition of theoretic understanding as being aimed:  ... at  a  disengaged  perspective.  We  are  not  trying to  understand  things merely as they impinge on us, or are relevant to the purposes  Two Standard Distinctions / 102 we are pursuing, but rather grasp them as they are, outside of the immediate perspective of our goals and desires and activities (1982, p. 89). Here we must remember that such disengagement is of varying degrees. We can no more have complete disengagement than we can have, in Kovesi's terms, description of the world in terms of "raw data." Practical reason, on this account, must be something like reason with the ideal of taking a full range of goals, desires, and purposes into consideration.  Most fundamental to the the project at hand, an understanding of the standards of rationality or critical thought, are the realizations that practical reasoning is neither an inferior form of theoretic reason nor a mere expression of feeling in contrast to a legitimate claim to represent the truth. Practical reason is related in complex ways with theoretic reason but is not reduceable to it. As Harman says, "Theoretical and practical reason are ... intertwined" (1987, p. 113). To the extent that it is possible to identify norms, strategies, and procedures which exemplify .good practical reasoning, they are as much a legitimate part of critical thinking as, for instance, the standards and procedures for relating observation claims to theories are. Because second order reflection on the adequacy of one's 1  own attempts to explain, conceptualize, describe, or justify, involves making practical judgments about whether to accept, revise, or reject various bits of reasoning,  the most  theoretic  of reasoning  necessarily  involves what has  T The standards and procedures of normative reasoning are perhaps explored most exhaustively by Paul Taylor in his Normative Discourse. Jerrold Coombs has done considerable work in explicating the standards of practical reasoning in educationally perspicuous terms. See for instance, "Practical Reasoning: What is it? How do we enhance it?"  Two traditionally  been  suggested  that  reasoning  about  referred  ways  practical  of talking  practical  attention. Many  to as  and  about  of the existing  reasoning. For  and  normative  these  reasons, it is  teaching responsible approaches  issues  accounts  Standard Distinctions / 103  is an  of critical  area  thinking  much and  to  in need many  of  of the  programs for instruction and  evaluation based on them have tended to ignore or  undervalue  of  the  importance  normative  reasoning  in  general  and  practical  reasoning in particular.  4.3. INTERPRETATION AND  THE  PRACTICE OF  CRITICISM  Given the arguments of the previous section, that an reason  and/or  practical  a  reason  alternative  misunderstanding has  approach  misled  stance  illusion  of a disengaged  issue  involved  disengaged  to the  in this  study  In  the  relationship  between  and  writing  about  this  section,  I  of rationality  which  critical  attempt  avoids what  to  on theoretic theoretic  and  thinking,  enterprise may  is the  possible  also give up  concern  that  an  articulate  I argue  in giving  a  is the  perspective in the study of our rational practices.  perspective we  reform or improve  research  is indicated.  general  of  overemphasis  One  up  a  the 'critical distance' necessary to  those practices. I will argue that this need not be the case.  If reasoning is divided into two  distinct categories, the categories of practical and  theoretic reason, or even if their relationship is regarded as being a matter of degree  along some continuum,  thinking will  appear  then attempts  to attempts  to understand  rationality or critical  to achieve theoretic understanding. They would  obviously not be practical, in the sense of being directed at deciding what to do,  Two Standard Distinctions / 104 so  they  would  seem  to be be theoretic. On  the basis  previous section, the drawing of such a conclusion  of arguments  in the  can be seen to be a mistake.  It is a mistake because practical and theoretic reason are not dichotomous, nor are they simply opposite ends of a spectrum.  Each is associated  with a cluster of loosely associated  has  been  traditionally  associated  with  contemplative, and disengaged. Further,  thought  attributes. Theoretic  that  is rigourous,  reason explicit,  it has been associated  with the notion of  transformation or revision. Back as far as Plato, the notion  of theoretic reason  has  been associated  and  practices  ourselves.  with transcending the limitations of our particular traditions  and creating  Practical reason  which cannot be expressed  a 'critical' distance has been  from  associated  in rigourous language  which to view society and  with  commonsense  and is used  'know-how'  to guide action.  Often, it is thought to be the sort of reasoning we pick up 'uncritically' as we are inducted into the traditional practices of everyday pursuits.  This section is an attempt to disentangle clusters,  showing  perspective that  such  that  there  is an  some of the different aspects of these alternative  to the traditional  theoretic  which is particularly relevant to the study of rationality. I will argue a  perspective  can share  many  perspective, including being explicit, rigourous,  of the virtues  of the theoretic  and revisionary, without taking the  notion of disengagement as an ideal. Such a position is a realistic alternative to the  illusion  of establishing  a transcendentally  ground one's theorizing, or the notion could  be used to avoid  issues  objective  foundation  on which to  of a neutral position or vocabulary which  of ideological or cultural differences. The explicit  Two adoption of such  Standard Distinctions / 105  a stance would be useful in ensuring that we  are not misled  (by the ideal of disengagement) into the illusion of an a-cultural, non-ideological, or value free conception of critical thinking. This runs counter to Ennis's stated expectation moral  that  values"  responsible useful  thinking  (discussed  alternative  on  of rationality  scientific  would p.  not correlate with  14,  above).  to the traditional  counter-influence to  understanding their  critical  verification  the  theoretic  widespread  can only  Seeing  come  stance  notion about  "political, social, and that  an  exists  that  intellectually  ought to be a  improvement  through  and the other questionable moves  better  in the  theories and  documented  in the  previous section.  The  alternative I propose  will not be defined any more precisely  or practical reason have been. In fact, the approach  than theoretic  to reasoning to which I am  referring is difficult even to label very adequately. For purposes of this discussion it will be referred to as taking an interpretive stance. In social theory, it has been  referred  understanding" hermaneutic  to  as  to refer  verstehen.  Wittgenstein  to somewhat  uses  the same  the  thing.  phrase  Some  understanding. Clifford Geertz borrows the term  "perspicuous  writers  refer to  "thick description" to  label one avenue to understanding of this kind. While I am  deliberately avoiding  tying  to emphasize  this  notion  to any  particular  formulation, I wish  some  characteristics which are connected with each of these examples. As the notion is developed,  the work of a number  of well-known  philosophers will be used  as  landmarks by which to explicate the proposed perspective.  In each of the cases mentioned, there is an attempt  to capture as closely and  Two completely  as  perspective  of the  across  distinction  the  possible  an  understanding  participants. between  As  of  some  indicated, this  practical  and  Standard aspect sense  theoretic  Distinctions / 106 of  reason.  they impinge on us, or are relevant to the purposes we them  desires and  as they  from  the  of understanding  theoretic reason in Taylor's terms, as "not trying to understand  grasp  life  If we  cuts  construe  things merely as  are pursuing, but rather  are, outside of the immediate perspective of our goals  activities," we  could construe this interpretive understanding  and  as being  from the perspective of an informed participant in whatever practice or aspect of life  provides  the  context  for  purposes, goals, desires, and to disengage  themselves.  inquiry.  This  means  taking  into  account  activities from which theoretical reasoners are trying  Obviously, as  are limits to the extent that one  can  is the case  with  theoretic reason, there  "adopt a perspective" for the purposes of  an inquiry, especially a perspective which is very different from one's own. the  'adoption  context. The different another  of a task  participant's  perspective' means will  of taking the  for anthropologists or culture than  perspicuous  account  view  from  historians  the  trying  inside  practices familiar  to  vary  both  the  What  dramatically with  of a  to understand  it is for linguistic philosophers who of  the  practice the  are trying philosophers  is very  customs of to offer a and  their  readers.  This understanding  from an internal perspective is like practical understanding in  that it involves the preservation of the purposes, values, and in  context, in as  theoretic reason (although  it may  rich  is not inform  a  sense  aimed such  as  nuances of meaning  possible. However, in the  directly  at making  choices in a  choices about  same way  that  specific actions  productive manner) neither is this  Two kind  of understanding. While  goods peculiar to a given the  immediate  context  it is not  disengaged  in a  problems  strange  of decision  of  contemplative  land,  their  making  anthropologists,  inquiries  in the  from  107  purposes, values,  and  practice or set of practices, it is disengaged from about  immigrant faced with practical decisions about how life  Standard Distinctions /  as  what  sense that Aristotle  do.  Unlike  1  a  new  to cope with the exigencies of  translators, or  relative  to  the  historians can  abstractions. associated  This  the  understanding  theoria as  with  face  is  opposed to  the phronesis required of a general or statesman.  While  it is recognized  roughly of  that  sketched out, and  standards,  disengage  or  purposes, partly  only  very  that it might be possible to say more about the  kinds  and  this  kind  of  understanding  particularities  disengage  and  still  of  context  take  part  has  from in  been  which  either  one  can  theoretic  or  interpretive understanding, I suggest that as it stands the distinction is of some utility in characterizing certain important issues. These issues have been brought out quite clearly in current debates about rational inquiry in the field of ethics, a field in which  normative issues are  most likely to remain at the  attention. In the following paragraphs I will describe two  centre  such disputes  of  in order  to bring out issues relevant to inquiry into standards of rationality.  Charles Taylor's account in "Justice After Virtue" (1988) brings out this issue in discussing fundamental differences between the  approaches of Rawls and  and  that of Maclntyre. Keeping in mind the  coarseness of this distinction,  can  understand  Taylor  as  saying  that Rawls and  we  Nozick want to examine the  " More will be said about the sense in which there are values internal to a practice in the last section of the following chapter. 1  Nozick,  and  goods  Two Standard Distinctions / 108 issue of justice from  a relatively theoretic standpoint. In Taylor's words, "Nozick  abstracts from society altogether. The rules of right distribution are exactly what they would be if we weren't associated at all, but met in a state of nature, as say, members of quite independent  clans might meet at some watering-hole in  the desert" (p. 20) and, "Rawls in a different way wants to abstract from any particular suggests when  pattern that we  viewed  of indebtedness" can have  from  such  perspective is and how  (p. 21). Maclntyre,  only a fragmentary a  disengaged  disengaged  on  and distorted  perspective. How  the other  hand,  notion of justice disengaged  Rawls  he intends it to be is in contention in this  debate. Obviously, a commitment to some values including equality of individuals and many standards of good reasoning are presupposed epistemic  position  behind  the veil  including commitment to a range the relationship  in the construction of the  of ignorance. Whether  or not much  more,  of liberal sentiments and presuppositions about  of the individual to society  is being presupposed,  and whether  Rawls is cognizant of this, (ie. whether he thinks he is constructing a liberal or a universal theorj' of justice) is a debated  point. But, whether or not Rawls is  passing off ideas which are strongly conditioned by his own political and cultural presuppositions as if they were universal and eternal claims about the nature of justice, it is claimed by Maclntyre from  such  Maclntyre  a disengaged on  this  that 'justice' is not perspicuously understood  perspective. Taylor, Walzer,  side  of this  issue.  They  and Lovibond  are all pursuing  are all with approaches  to  understanding which are much more explicitly attached to our traditions and our current purposes, not  necessarily  understanding  desires, activities, linguistic practices, etc. (However, they are committed  can only  be  to Maclntyre's achieved  further  through  a  claims  detailed  that  a  perspicuous  reconstruction of our  Two intellectual history  in the form  of a  Standard Distinctions / 109  narrative.) It is this latter  position, that  value issues are best understood, at least for some purposes, by making use of, rather than trying to escape, our current practices and standards, which I argue, provides a realistic model for inquiry into rationality.  Something of the same issue separates Habermas's and  Foucault's approaches to  ethics and social theory. Habermas opts for the theoretic perspective of the 'ideal speech situation,' disengaged from existing practices of interpersonal relations with their ubiquitous' imbalances of power and  authority. Foucault, on the other hand,  tests and describes the limits of present day them and  the concepts and  practices from  concepts and practices by  which they evolved. Habermas  to transcend, in so far as possible, the limitations of any  situation. Foucault  wishes to illuminate or 'render visible' the elements of our worldview ordinarily unseen or accepted as given because  seeks  particular viewpoint by  considering only those issues which arise in any communicative  make sense  examining  which are  they are the means b3 which r  we  of the world. Foucault deliberately stays within the confines of an  immanent critique, pointing out that many of our existing practices result  from  arbitrary decisions and mistakes, or are the unintended by-products of the pursuit of goals since forgotten, and approach  so on. Significantly, he  is consistent with critical reassesment  shows that this immanent  and revision of current standards  and practices.  Three issues of particular relevance to the study of rationality arise from these disputes. One  has been made already. It is that there are kinds of knowledge  which can be rigourous and explicit and contemplative, which are not theoretic in  Two Standard Distinctions / 110 the  sense in which theoretic is normally contrasted  Such knowledge is exemplified  with practical or interpretive.  in the works of those philosophers arguing for an  'engaged' examination of our moral and social beliefs and standards.  The  second  perspective  point which  is that  there  are peculiar  are some limitations on adopting to inquiry  into  practices  of rational or critical  thinking. One way of expressing these limitations is to consider of Nozick, quoted above. Recall Taylor's  existing patterns  a good perspective  Taylor's critique  point, that Nozick discusses  of social arrangements and standards of morality any  a disengaged  the nature  in a state of abstraction from  of association. Leaving aside the question of whether this is  from which to understand how  we do or should arrange our  social relationships, one can see that an inquiry into rationality cannot pursue a parallel course. We and  rules  cannot disengage ourselves from existing patterns  of inference  of argument  and continue to conduct any inquiry, including one into  rationality.  This is not a claim  that we cannot theorize (in some sense) about standards of  rationality. It simply suggests that there is an additional factor which limits the extent to which we can disengage ourselves from the very purposes, goals, and standards which are the object of our inquiry. To a larger extent than is true in some areas of inquiry, we necessarily approach inquiry into rationality from a standpoint internal to our existing practices.  It might be thought that these limitations could be avoided by seeing how others have reasoned, especially others who appear to have somewhat different standards  Two and  procedures  for arriving  at  rational action. In addition one  Standard Distinctions / 111  conclusions regarding  might  rational  assertability  exercise one's imagination and  or  conceive of  other possible standards and procedures. But, there are severe limitations on both of these  approaches  standards and for  us  which  or  are not our own,  as  make we  of our  reason. As  sense  out  Donald  of actions,  must see them  'implicit  grasp' of the  Davidson  practices,  has and  as at least partly  argued, language  commensurable  own.  understand  Just  constraints  practices with which we  to understand  with our  To  to escaping the  them is to understand  we  cannot  them through our own  describe Kovesi's  ourselves within  a  though  stock of concepts. Presuming  our own  is sensible and  very  raw  data,  conceptual scheme, except  seek  this subject, Hilary to maximize  (1983, p. 150). Without communicating  of  as  cannot  place  it is mediated  that what other cultural groups  beliefs  the humanity  the assumption  and  Putnam  do  intentions  cites Vico as follows: "... in  of the beings being translated"  that speakers of another language  which  are somewhat  according to rules which operate somewhat as ours do, we 'getting it right' in translating. And more distance between our inquiry displacement  we  intelligible in our terms is required in the process of translation  or interpretation. On translation, we  different  world  conceptual scheme.  than  we  can  through  the notion that we and  our own  interpretation  to our  lack any  own,  criteria for  can get further, or get  worldview tied  similar  are  to  through imaginative concrete  alternatives  seems improbable.  1  " Maclntyre quotes from three different translations of a passage in Homer's Illiad describing a case of practical reasoning in order to display the extent to which interpretation is coloured by the translator and audience, not as a defect in translation, but as function of constraints on translation and understanding 1  Two Standard Distinctions / 112 Rationality, on this account at least, is inextricably bound up with being human. Being  rational  human  cannot  be separated  from  the realization of whatever  beings have, or come to have, or from  communication  which characterize  human  life  purposes  the notions of community and  and make  rationality possible.  No  understanding of the world, no matter how disengaged, is unaffected by what we might call the material  facts of the human condition: i.e. the fact that we have  certain kinds of sensory organs and other bodily characteristics, that we typically come to have certain expectations, or 'go on' in certain ways based kinds  of experiences, the fact  social needs  that  and communicative  we  have  evolved  as beings  on certain  with  capacities. Nor can it be disengaged  complex from our  linguistic rules and traditions of inquiry and argumentation.  The  third  and  final  point  interpretive and theoretic  regarding  the  relationship  only  This might seem- like a contradiction make  sense  of the world  standards,  and  conceptual  scheme, as Quine  ended. Even application  procedures.  an  and Davidson  circumstances.  to our existing  not be  standards  replicating the status  of the point just made, that we can  according  It should  our most central  to new  taking  stance is that an interpretative understanding does not  imply that one is bound to a conservative stance - merely quo.  between  taken  refer  this  stock way.  Our  to it, is complex  of rationality require  Consider  of concepts,  the standard  existing  and open  interpretation or  of simplicity,  as it  applies to theoretical structures, as an example. Simplicity is cited as a criterion of a good theory in almost every attempt to spell out such criteria. Nonetheless, there has never been and it is unlikely that there will be a formal account of  0  (cont'd) (1988, p.  17).  Two Standard Distinctions / 113 what counts as a simpler theory. Which theory is simpler in any given case may be a matter of debate and contestation. Sometimes, what has been taken to be a simpler theory may be shown to be more complex by a new argument or new formulation of the criteria of simplicity.  My main point here is that there is room for argument and revision of standards within an interpretive approach. Taking an interpretive stance does not imply the acceptance of our existing standards, procedures, and concepts as ideal or immutable. They must stand the test of ongoing debate, application to new examples or problems, and confrontation with an evolving set of competing alternatives.  In fact, there are traditions of debate, evaluation, and criticism  which seem likely to produce change and revision within our conceptual schemes.  One interesting treatment of this question is offered by Michael Walzer, in his book on Interpretation and Social Criticism (1987). In his preface he suggests that the book asks the question "as much political as it is philosophical, whether social criticism is possible without 'critical theory'" (1987, p. ix). He suggests, 1  however that, "Social criticism is less the off-spring of scientific knowledge than the educated cousin of common complaint" (p. 65). . I t may be worth noting, at this point, that there is a certain amount of confusion, at least within the field of education, between critical theory and critical thinking. For example, Brookfield's latest book (1988) incorporates some elements from the tradition of critical thinking (as rational thinking) with some notions from critical theory (as in the Frankfurt School) without differentiating the very different traditions and purposes which have motivated these two different streams of research. Perhaps I should point out that I am not making the same mistake by equating Walzer's use of 'social criticism' with 'critical thinking' either. Walzer's term refers to claims made for a particular purpose, from a particular perspective. Critical thinking refers to any purposive thinking which meets certain standards.  He  argues  that  three  approaches  to  moral  distinguished: that of discovery, invention, and the  product  theorizing  of  as  it was  characterization epistemology "to  for  of the  my  (quoted from  of  own  thoughts  and  Descartes's Discourse  who  take  invent the  Walzer claims that "The nature  moralities"  and  social  philosophy  can  be  can  be  interpretation. Discovery  it was  Discovery  those  searching  to build  this  veil  do  approach  for also  Moses, is the  for a  or  philosophical  most  appropriate  'naturalized' theory  but  any  provide, a  then  goes on  foundation  or  wholly  Walzer, p. 9). As  the  ideal  was  my  own"  examples of  cites  speech  Rawls  and  situation  invented morality is to provide what  ask,  of  as  more particular perspectives on morality.  universal to  a  to ethics, Walzer  of ignorance  point of an  not  on  on Method by  means for detaching ourselves from  and  as  Bentham.  goal  philosophers who  Habermas  revelation,  Standard Distinctions / 114  or reason. Invention is associated with Descartes project which  reform  moral  religious  Two  corrective  "But  why  for all the should  we  different  bow  God social  to universal  correction?" (p. 13).  If the 'invented morality' was what was  right and  plausible,  or  to  get  wrong, why a  inventions clearly do) an already  believe.  in radical conflict with our existing intuitions about  It must  grip  would we  on  our  accept it? For it to seem somewhat  sensibilities,  (as  Rawls  and  Habermas's  invented morality must be relatively close to what approach  an  interpretation  of existing  practices  judgments. Thus, the disengagement is limited. Adoption of the view from  we and  behind  the veil of ignorance on this more minimal conception of invention is, in Walzer's words, to "surrender all knowledge of our position in society and connections and  of our private  commitments, but not, this time, of the values (like liberty  and  Two equality) that we more of an  share  Standard Distinctions / 115  (p. 16). This construal of Rawls invention makes it into  interpretive device, but  at the cost of making  it less obviously of  universal import. That is, it will only have a grip on those for whom it seems to represent an intuitive understanding  Returning  to  a  'discoveries,' we accepted  (on  consideration can  see  rational  goals  which  were  that the  grounds  more clearly standards  of  of ethics.  1  Bentham's  or  anyway) except  the  that  matter,  same constraints apply. Why that  that were already accepted  already  for  goals  of  their  they  Moses's  would  appeared  they  be  to interpret  or lead more productively to  respective  audiences.  It  seems  significant that, as Walzer notices, the history of utilitarianism is largely a story of  successive  modifications  to  bring  the  products  of  the  remarks  is  theory  into closer  alignment with existing moral intuitions.  The  obvious  discovery existing  conclusion  and  stock many  invention, at  practices  understanding  pointed  and  different  values  given  ways, there  values in new  ways and  new  and  examples  least  is. All rely on an  of values. But,  to  by in  in  these the  the  field same  of  that  ethics, are  ways  in  approaches constrained  which  of by  interpretive  appeal to values which are part of our existing  that we  have a  is always  the  number of values, interrelated in possiblity  of  appealing  to  existing  arguing that some ought to be reevaluated in light of  arguments.  This  is a  reasonable  characterization of  what  T Whether or not the perspective from behind .the veil of ignorance or Rawls difference principle can get a grip on everyone's imagination, or only those from a particular culture or those who share a particular ideology, is largely an empirical question. Obviously neither command universal acceptance but there are many reasons other than differing intuitions which could account for this.  Two Standard Distinctions / 116 criticism and interpretation are.  I suggest that what is true of the study of ethics and social theory, is equally true of the study of rationality and critical thinking in this case. The adoption of an interpretive stance need not be the adoption of a conservative stance. Practices of criticism and revision are internal to the practices of rationality and one need not adopt (if indeed one can) a transcendental or disengaged stance in order to gain critical distance from existing practices and standards. It may be useful to summarize the major issues of this section. I have suggested that: 1.  there  is  knowledge  which  can  be  explicit,  rigourous, and  contemplative, which does not rely on the ideal of disengagement from existing practices and values; 2.  there are special limitations on the extent to which one can study rationality from a perspective which is disengaged from the very standards which constitute rationality; and  3.  a disengaged, theoretic perspective is not the only perspective from which one can criticize existing norms and practices - an interpretive perspective is not necessarily conservative.  These points have some importance for inquiry into critical thinking, especially in light of the various attempts by writers in the field take the ideals of theoretic knowledge as the ideals to which all knowledge ought to conform and the language of scientific explanation as appropriate for all kinds of explanation. It is important to see that the only alternative to the rigourous pursuit of scientific understanding is not the uncritical acceptance of whatever "folk psychology" is  Two Standard Distinctions / 117 represented  by our current  linguistic practices,  cognitive scientists appear to believe.  1  as certain  philosophers and  The notion of an alternative perspective  ought to be helpful in encouraging those interested in critical thinking to realize that while the ideal of a completely objective, disengaged stance from which to examine our rational practices is unreachable, the alternative is not to lapse into complete relativism. While standards of rationality develop within the context of a particular culture and are bound to reflect the purposes of particular groups of people in particular historical circumstances,  they are a product of continuous  revision and criticism.  4.4.  SUMMARY  The chapter began with a discussion of the points of view which were useful to consider when trying to understand the standards and rules of a practice. The perspectives of the competent practitioner, the teacher, the judge, and the critic were mentioned.  The issue of whether critical thinking is a special kind of thinking, or whether it is thinking which meets certain  sorts of standards,  was raised  again in  connection with the often cited distinction between critical and creative thinking. Through a discussion of points made by Goodman and Lakatos, it was argued ~T Hilary Putnam addresses the selective way in which Stephen Stich and Paul and Patricia Churchland are prepared to dismiss "propositional attitudes" (such as beliefs, purposes, and desires) as "quasi-mythological entities" and argue that they must be eliminated if we are to achieve a suitably scientific view of mental phenomena, and yet are unprepared to eliminate other categories (such as the extension of the word chair) which rely on the notion of purposes for their existence (1988, pp. 57-60).  Two Standard Distinctions / 118 that criticism and creativity are useful in demonstrating the  closely related. Goodman's argument  limitations of approaches  was  also  to critical thinking which  place undue weight on syntactic rules without context or semantic considerations.  The distinction between theoretic and practical reason was also considered. A way of construing the relationship between associated vestiges  with  positivism was  of that  these two sorts of reasoning which was  criticized, and it was  philosophical tradition have  pointed out that  continued to influence ideas  certain about  critical thinking. In general, the idea that all knowledge should be as scientific or theoretic  as  confusion  on  possible the  was  part  demonstrated  several  writers  to  be  in the  misleading and field  of  the  cause  of  critical thinking. The  confusions included adverting to "fallacy theory," practices founded on the belief that capacities  (in general)  are learned by studying theory and then learning to  apply it in practice, the overemphasis on the relationship between theories and evidence in critical thinking curricula and underemphasis on issues reasoning,  and the  illicit reduction of intentional terms  such as  in practical belief to  the  names of entities such as representations.  The need for a more balanced understanding of the relationship between practical and theoretic reason was pointed out. Kovesi's and Lovibond's expressive approach to  language,  their  dissolution of  the  fact/value  dichotomy,  and  their  realist  interpretation of values were examined as an alternative to scientific realism and a non-cognitivist approach to values which has continued to influence theory and practice in the field of critical thinking.  Two Standard Distinctions / 119 It was recognized that the distinction between practical and theoretic reasoning is not sharp nor is the relationship uni-dimensional. In fact, each of theoretic and practical reason connote a cluster of characteristics.  By separating out these  characteristics, we can see that they are not necessary associations, that we can have reason which is rigourous, explicit, and contemplative, without adopting the ideal of disengagement from any particular set of cultural values and practices. The explicit adoption of such an interpretive stance is useful in ensuring that we are not misled (by the ideal of disengagement) into the illusion of an a-cultural, non-ideological, or value free conception of rationality. Further, it was argued that the adoption of an interpretive stance need not imply simple acceptance of the status quo.  Re-interpretation and criticism can function from within the sets of  beliefs, values, and practices of a given culture. In other words, we can continue to revise and possibly improve our standards of rationality without scientific discovery or the adoption of a transcendent or theoretic stance.  5. RULES AND  In  the opening  sensibly offered  be  chapter  studied  examples  of this  as a  NORMATIVE ACTIVITIES  thesis, I argued  normative  of confusion  within  that  critical  practice. In succeeding  thinking  chapters,  the Field, about the nature  could  I have  of rules and  standards, the relationship phenomena under normative and empirical descriptions, what  it means  to 'know  a  rule,' and  procedures, standards, and normative  many  other  activities. This  issues  related  to rules,  chapter will be devoted to.  developing a coherent and realistic picture of rules and their place in our lives. Such a picture will enhance our understanding of the issues mentioned above. It will be useful in understanding a further issue which has been largely by  ignored  those interested in critical thinking and has proved troublesome for a number  of philosophers.  The issue is the relationship of rules to judgment in the sense  in which one can exercise good or bad judgment. Understanding this last issue is of considerable  significance to assessing  Ennis's multi-aspect  approach, in which  the concept of judgment plays an essential, but largely unexplained, role.  The  first  two sections  of this chapter are devoted to developing conceptions of  'rules' and 'normative activities.' The third  section displays  the consequences of  such conceptions for furthering our understanding of critical thinking. The issues to be clarified include: differences between normative and causal explanations, the ways  in  which  rules  and  standards  are  embodied  in our  practices, the  relationship between rule following and judgment, and the sense in which thinking critically has intrinsic value.  120  Rules and normative activities / 121 5.1. R U L E S  Trying  to  characterize  the nature  of a  characterize the nature of a game. We  rule  is something  like  trying  to  all know what games are, and can list  many different kinds of games, but there is little that can be said which applies to all games in any informative way. In characterizing what it is to be a game, or  to be a rule,  exemplars  perhaps  and identify  the best we  can do is to point  some of the characteristic  out a range of  features of different kinds of  games or rules. This chapter will include discussion of the variety  of kinds of  rules and how they are interrelated, the different grounds which can serve as a basis  for identifying  rules,  and  the way  in which  rules  are developed for  particular purposes within the context of normative activities. These activities are, in  turn, a constitutive  activities  will  also  part  include  of our way  a discussion  of life.  The discussion  of normative  of the role of judgment  in competent  performance.  The notion of rules arises in connection with those situations in which people can do things which may felicitous  be judged as right or wrong, legal or illegal, good or bad,  or not, etc. It makes sense to speak of rules only in contexts where  this is the case. Hence, we do not have rules which forbid doing things which people cannot ordinarily do (going to the moon) or cannot help doing (sneezing). Rules make sense only with regard to actions which are, or can be, intentional. In  cases in which people's behaviour is caused  (in the sense that they have no  choice about what they do or how they do it) rules play no role in explaining  Rules and  their behaviour.  1  A  prisoner who  normative activities /  122  is locked in a cell is not acting in accordance  with the rule 'do not leave this room.'  Max  Black suggests, in this regard, "I think it will be found in every  a rule formulation identifies what I shall call a class of human p. 107). Black goes on to explicate the term "actions" in a way clear he is referring to intentional behaviour.  The  fact that rules are adverted  The  first  is  at  actions..."  (1962,  which makes it  2  to in those situations in which there is a right  or a wrong (or better or worse) way conditions.  case that  the  of doing  heart  of  things gives rise to two Wittgenstein's  "private  further  language"  argument. If something is to count as being done according to a rule, it must be  possible to 'get it right' or 'get it wrong' and  some external criterion to serve  as  a  check on  the  this requires that there sensation  of being  be  right.  3  . This claim expresses no position on the determinism vs. freewill issue, except that it presupposes that it makes sense to speak of choices, intentions, and actions in the sense that we usually do, that is in the sense that we hold people responsible and worthy of praise or blame. It would be consistent with this position to believe that for every action which can be explained or interpreted according to rules or norms, there could be a causal explanation according to physical laws. It is being suggested, however, that there is no reason to think that these alternative kinds of explanation 'fit' in the sense that the categories involved in normative explanation (e.g.'s rules, decisions, beliefs, actions) can be translated into, or analytically reduced to the categories of causal explanation. . It may be that we are inclined to attribute some attenuated sense of intentionality to higher mammals. Thus, we could regard some rule-conforming behaviour on the part of trained animals as rule-following in a limited sense. It may be noted that very few of the possible 'things we can do with rules' (which include justifying, enacting, formulating, explaining, and protesting) are possible for someone or something which is _ not a member of a fairly sophisticated linguistic community. . If we think of a rule such as an aesthetic standard, we may be disinclined to use the words "right" and "wrong" but the same general point holds. The novice water-colourist does not produce art simply by pleasing himself. His work 2  3  Rules and normative activities / 123 Put differently, there must be a difference between thinking one is following a rule and actually following it, a difference which evaporates  if there is no  possibility of having one's experience of thinking one is following a rule corrected according to public criteria.  The second of these two conditions is that rules are intimately related to the notion of 'authority.' It may not be most fruitfully understood as a necessary condition, but it is a characteristic feature of rules. It is significant that we speak of a king ruling over subjects and of rule-governed activities. While, as we will see, there are a wide variety of rules, only some of which are directly associated with regulation and governance, there is a sense in which all rules are authoritative, i.e. unless a rule has at least suasive force, issues of right and wrong are inappropriate. Thus, while the appropriate conception of authority may be either overtly political, as in legal rules; the authority of expertise in the intellectual, moral, religious, or practical realms; or the authority we associate with accepted practice, some sense of authority applies.  We have noted that rules are applicable only in those situations in which it is sensible to speak of right and wrong, better and worse, or correct and incorrect, and so on. As is implied by these words, judgments according to rules are not simply matters of taste, they must be considered, in some sense,  to be  authoritative or to decide the issue. Thus, Black points out that some intentional activities, e.g. doodling (1967, p. 92), are not rule-governed in that the concept (cont'd) must meet certain public standards regardless of the fact that we find it difficult to provide a perspicuous formulation of the relevant standards in all cases. 0  Rules and normative activities / 124 of a mistake cannot arise with regard to their performance.  1  There are some fairly obvious apparent counter-examples to the notion that all rules involve relations of authority. In some cases of norms defined in social practice, for instance the rules of appropriate conduct on public elevators,  there  is a sense in which there is no authority, political or epistemic, to appeal to for a definitive judgment. But I think that this sort of example gets its force from the fact that such rules are borderline examples of rules. They are at the point where rules begin to shade off into customs and habits. (This is not to deny that there are some customs which are enforced much more clearly and directly by particular authorities.) In some places, and in more places at times in the recent past, a young man would have been taught by someone in authority to wait until all the ladies got off the elevator before getting off himself. Had he failed  to  heed  his  teacher(s),  someone  might well  have  spoken to  him with  authority about his manners. In the case of social practices which are regarded as being of significance to a community, such as linguistic and moral practices, there are, in fact, many different and sometimes competing authorities.  Another subset of rules which may seem not to include a role for authority is rules which an individual makes to guide her own behaviour. Someone might, for instance, make it a policy never to park in public parking garages  at night. In  such a case, it is true ex hypothesi that there is no authority, in the sense of . Black's point here is well taken although he ..perhaps overstates the extent to which the activity of doodling is a-normative. The fact that one's design can be ruined by having one's elbow bumped or that one's doodling can be found to be imaginative by others indicates that some standards do apply even to this modest and almost purposeless activity. 1  Rules and normative activities / 125 no external authority, to enforce the rule, to criticize actions according to it, or to engage in any other normative activities with regard to the rule. Nonetheless, we do speak of people governing themselves according to such rules and we do speak of such rules as being authoritative in certain situations.  So, while some instances of rules are related to a rather attenuated conception of authority, some connection seems to be, at the very least, characteristic of rules. If this connection is stated as a condition that rules must be regarded as, in some sense, 'authoritative,' rather than 'depending on an authority', it may be regarded as a third necessary condition of 'rules.'  The foregoing three points express conditions for the existence of a rule. For ease of reference, "non-private"  thej'  condition,  can and  be labelled the the  "authority"  "intentionality" condition, the condition.  Armed  with these  conditions, we will examine something of the range of kinds of rules and the sorts of activities which imply the existence of rules.  Baker and Hacker identify five "clusters" of rule-type concepts which display somewhat distinctive features. These are: 1.  laws, statutes, regulations - these are "formal rules, voluntarily created according to rule-governed stipulations."  2.  practice, code, convention - "informal rules which exist in the practices of a social group and are not created by norm creating acts."  3.  standard, canon, model, paradigm - these concepts exemplify the evaluative role of rules.  Rules and normative activities / 126 4.  maxim,  principle,  'impersonal rules',  precept, i.e. rules  recipe  -  emphasize  not addressed  the  to anyone  "guiding  role  of  in particular but  'available' to anyone who wishes to adopt them," and 5.  prescription, direction, directive, instruction - which tend to be "rules issued by individual authorities, often to individual subjects" (1984, p. 250).  This list is obviously not exhaustive, nor are the divisions between the categories of concepts free from vagueness and ambiguity. The list is useful, however, in that it indicates something of the variety of rules, their origins, their scope, and their uses.  5.2. GROUNDS FOR THE EXISTENCE OF RULES  The first category includes the most obvious instances of rules, the ones which spring  to mind  first  when one thinks about  rules.  For our purposes,  this  category is primarily important by way of marking off a kind of rule which plays little part in the practice(s) of thinking, and yet can serve as a misleading model or paradigm for the kinds of rules in which we are interested. Seeing that rules which are purposefully created by individuals in authority are only one of many kinds of rules can prevent us from trying to understand all rules as if they operated like formally constituted rules. Most importantly for our purposes, the way in which formally constituted rules are typically learned, i.e. first as rule formulations, and then as applied in practice, is only one of the ways in which rules may be learned. Consideration of the ways in which other rules are typically learned will be suggestive of other possible educational strategies which may be more effective in promoting critical thinking.  Rules and normative activities / 127 Many of the kinds of rules with which we are concerned need not be formulated and are not proclaimed before coming into effect. Nor are they enforced by the use of sanctions. Many of the activities associated "being  subject to"  rules  in the  regulation  sense,  with either "promulgating" or have  1  no role  in  language  games appropriate to rules in the sense that thinking is a rule-governed activity. The rules of thinking cannot be drafted, rescinded, or revoked. Nor can they be protested, although they can be criticized.  2  The rules with which we are primarily concerned  "exist  in the practices  of a  social group." Such rules emerge and evolve within a community. They may or may not be formulated in order to qualify as rules. Often, even for those rules for which formulations do exist, activity takes precedence  agreement by those competent  in the  over any specific formulation (or reconstruction)  relevant of the  rules. A paradigmatic subset of such rules are the rules of logic. While Aristotle is often credited as the father of the study of logic, it is not imagined that no one was logical until Aristotle formulated the rules. What Aristotle did was to construct formulations which captured (to the extent that he was successful)  the  rules which already governed the practice of drawing inferences. In an important sense,  Aristotle's  formulations  governed existing practices.  expressed  or  stated  the  rules  which  already  3  . This terminology is borrowed from Max Black, 1967, p 116). . It is rather striking, however, that many "non-regulation" concepts have uses which emphasize the "official" or "formal" sense of rules. A n "exemplification" in law, for example is an official and certified copy of a public document. "Canonical" can be used to mean "authoritative; officially approved; orthodox." Both definitions are taken from the The Heritage Illustrated Dictionary, McGraw-Hill, 1969. . See Max Black, 1962, pp. 95-100 for an account of the problems involved with speaking of such formulations as "descriptions" of the rule in question. 1  2  3  Rules and normative activities / 128 Of course, once formulations of the rules of a practice exist, they may come to be authoritative. They may become guides to practice and they may modify practice. However, it is important to notice that this kind of rule formulation can be incorrect in a way that a regulation or rule of law cannot. A legal regulation or statute is in effect if it is enacted by a relevant authority and becomes invalid only if it is overturned, rescinded, or revoked by the relevant authority, or if the authority loses power over the relevant jurisdiction. A regulation is neither correct nor incorrect. Its validity depends on its provenance (e.g. whether it was legally enacted by competent authorities).  A dictionary serves as a good foil by which to explicate the difference between regulations and the formulations of "rules of practice." Consider a dictionary as an authoritative set of rules for spelling the words of a language. It is created by trying to capture accurately the spelling practices of competent spellers. In turn, it serves as a reference for those who wish to correct or justify the way they spell. But dictionaries are fallible: they may be incorrect, for instance by failing to include acceptable variations for spelling a word. Their authority is not absolute.  Linguistic  practices  may  change  and  render  them  obsolete.  Non-observance of the rules of spelling by generally competent language users can make the relevant rule formulations incorrect or invalid. Adequacy of these rules depends on whether following them produces judgments which accord with those of generally competent practitioners.  1  T This is, of course, a contingent fact about our. current rules and practices. L'academie francaise has a more authoritative and official mandate than any equivalent English language institiution, in determining "correct" practice. The current Korean alphabet and rules for spelling were invented by a king and spellings are determined exceptionlessly according to phonetic practices.  Rules and normative activities / 129 These examples rules,  rule  point out a fact of some  following,  and rule  can exist on the basis which case their  the practices  their  formulations,  of their  formulations  may play  a  Rules  formulation and promulgation by authorities, in  are crucial for their  and regularities  between  are not simple or invariant.  formulations and the interpretations  for enforcing them by  significance. The relationships  taken by those responsible  significance.  in judgments secondary  Other rules  are constituted  of a community,  in which case  or subservient  role.  In these  latter  cases especially, it will be important to maintain a distinction between rules and their formulations.  The  variable  paralleled paradigms.  1  relationship  by a  which  similarly  A n exemplar  varied  holds  between  relationship  rules  between  and rule rules  formulations  and exemplars  may, as in the case of the judgments  Christ or Buddha, serve as a standard for actions their actions and teachings,  is or  and actions of  and judgments  of others. By  such figures establish new norms, in these cases, for  'Christian actions' or 'the practice of gaining inner illumination.' Actions of others can be judged on the basis of their similarity, in relevant respects,  2  to those of  an exemplar. Just as one can follow, or act according to a rule, one can follow an  example,  or  act  according  to  an  exemplary  model.  In  such  cases,  an  . For a m o r e general account of the distinction between rules and their formulations, see Baker and Hacker, 1984, Chapter 7, Section 2, pp. 250-265; or Black, 1962, pp. 100-2. . What constitutes "relevant respects" or "similarity" is a complex question. Putnam has pointed out that everything is similar to everything else in some way or other, "...'of the same kind' makes no sense apart from a categorial system which says what properties do and what -properties do not count as similarities" (1981, p. 53). In other words, judgments of similarity are judgments according to conceptual rules. I suspect, although I will not argue it here, that acting according to an exemplar involves subsuming both the exemplar and the action under consideration under a principle or rule. 2  Rules and normative activities / 130 exemplar  could be said to create and define  the rule, or, in other words, to  set  a standard. Citing an exemplar is a way  of expressing a rule.  But  is  simply  a  instance falling under an existing rule. A  speech  might be singled out because it  often,  an  exemplifies instance. norms  exemplar  many In  (or  standards  can  articulated  of  the  a  case,  such rules)  but  be  rule  or  paradigm  (already the  rather  realized  formulations  exemplar it  or  recognized)  can  may  apply,  or clarifying a rule. F o r example,  standards  need  provide  measured  up  a  soccer  game  as  to.  off-side."  of  set  or  model Even  exemplars  a teacher  "being  not a  good  in  may  be  speaking,  create  which  or striking  the  relevant  shows  cases  in  useful  for  how  the  which  well  i n explaining  might single out a particular bridge  hand as exemplifying "a one no-trump opener" in  particularly clear  or a particular position of players  Such  examples  may  be  used  to  demonstrate how a rule formulation is applied in practice.  As  i n the  trying  to  examples) clarify  case  of  rules  subsume under  the  a  all  in  There may  between  between  correctness,  we  must  rules  and  or  careful  exemplars  practices  be helpful to take  Tightness,  be  i n which it seems  rule-governed  it may  note  goodness,  in  avoid  (or  other  important to  and  either  of what any  to  one  rule adverts  particular  case.  well be cases in which no one factor is definitive. In the context  trying  to  understand  complex  justice  or  rationality,  we  exemplary  formulations,  relationships  relationship  establishing  rule  particular model. F o r cases  formulations or exemplars, to  and  people,  canonical  and  may lists  contested  appeal of  to  rules,  issues, exemplary  such  as  the  judgments,  formulations  of  standards judgments  principles  of of by  abstracted  Rules and normative activities / 131 from practice,  intuitive judgments  about hypothetical cases, or standards of  acceptable practice in our community. In some cases no one of these factors seems completely authoritative and several may be taken into account. It is in the interplay of these various factors that there is 'room' for criticism and re-interpretation of existing standards and rules.  5.3. N O R M A T I V E  ACTIVITIES  The preceding sections on the nature of rules are based on a presupposition. Implicit in the account so far is the notion that rules do not simply exist as individual entities in the world. Rules, of whatever sort, exist within a particular kind of medium, we might say. They exist as elements in normative activities, as part of the fabric of our social practices. While we can formulate imaginary rules, actual rules (rules which are the basis for judgments about right and wrong, better and worse, etc.) have their role in the practices and institutions which constitute our form of life. Importantly, rules come in clusters, clusters which are created within particular spheres of activity. Rules are meaningful within the context of these activities. The ability to use the rules (follow them, judge according to them, etc.) is dependent on some degree of familiarity with the practice. A familiar demonstration of this point is the experience of many men who, not having been initiated into the practice of cooking through their upbringing, find that the procedural rules offered in cookbooks are insufficient for the production of edible meals. The ensuing section addresses more explicitly the nature of normative activities and the way they form the context in which rules have a place.  Rules and normative activities / 132 As one might expect given the connections between rules, as explicated above, and normative activities, the necessary or standard features of rules will also apply to normative activities. To say that something is a normative activity implies something about the intentions of the participants and the fact that there are correct and incorrect or better and worse ways of participating. Further, it implies some level of agreement amongst the participants regarding the rules that define the activity. For any individual participant, engaging in such an activity means the acceptance as authoritative of (at least) most of the constitutive rules about which participants in that activity generally agree. Put differently, all participants must recognize the rules of the activity as being relevant to what they are doing - including the determination of what is right and wrong in that context.  While these remarks follow generally from the earlier account of rules, some cautionary notes may be in order. With regard to intentions, very little is being claimed. It is simply the case that normative activities are those activities in which intention and the related notions of choice and judgment have a place. Activities like dreaming, which are, for most of us, not subject to our intentions, are not normative, in this sense. It is certainly not the case that engages in a rules  which  normative define  and  activity govern  must have the  the intention  activity.  of acting  anyone  according  who  to the  An obvious counter-example to the  italicized claim is a poker player who plays poker but cheats at every opportunity. While we could say that he is not really playing poker, because he is not playing according to the rules, more commonly we might say that he is playing but he's not playing fairly or properly. Notice that cheaters do not  Rules and normative activities / 133 regard  the  competitors'  rules  as  actions  invalid.  They  invoke the  rules  in order  to restrict  their  and to claim their own winnings. The carrying out of the  cheater's intentions are fully as dependent as those of the honest player on both the  existence  of  followed. Both the  rules  and  cheater  the  general  and the  honest  presumption player  that  the  rules  agree on the  will  be  of  the  rules  game, both as rule-formulations and as agreements in judgment about  instances  of right and wrong. Both accept the authority of the rules in a way, but the cheater's recognition of the rules is displayed by what is done openly and what is done surreptitiously whereas obedience.  Someone  who refused  the  player's  recognize  the  recognition fundamental  is displayed as of  poker  would not be playing improperly, as the cheater is described, but rather,  would  not be playing at a l l .  to  honest  rules  1  There is a sense in which performing an action which is part of a normative activity depends on acceptance by the actor of a certain relation to the rules of that  activity. This could be described as adopting an attitude of acceptance of  the rules as constitutive of the activity. If I am engaged in writing a cheque, painting a painting, or arguing for a particular belief, I must understand what I am doing in terms of the rules which govern those activities. Again caution is required however. For reasons made clear above, my belief that I am writing a cheque is not sufficient to make it a case of cheque writing - my actions must conform to the rules from an objective perspective. Also, as we have seen,  the  T This is parallel to a p o i n t in Cavell (1979, Chapters 2 and 3) about the criteria of a concept such as pain. The writhing which serves as a criterion of pain does not prove that the writher is in pain - she could be acting. But in the case of both the actor and the person who really is in pain, the writhing serves to identify pain as being the relevant concept, be the pain mock, feigned, or actual.  Rules attitude be  of acceptance  intentionally  cannot  breaking  be  understood  some  of  the  as  and normative  an  rules  attitude  by,  for  activities  of obedience  instance,  /  134  - I  writing  may  a  bad  cheque.  It  maj'  also  activities. rules  be  I need not  and  engaged  penalties  as  money  and its  it  being  not  is  entirely  bounded by  practice  be  But  know  rules. useful  or  can  cases  unclear  may  We may  applied  have  a  set  understanding  happens  govern  their  awareness  of  transfer  everything  new  with  of  money  be engaged  we  to  or  or  in  but to  less  the  fact  that  we  use  and  settle in  typical  common  extension  or or  in  or  in  as  not  to  be  significance  of  my  knowledge  activities, such  an  rules  standard  more  reinterpretation  of basic or overarching rules for some  not  order  for  activities  ones.  of  cover  Often  situations  marginal  is  are  which  possible dispute. or  1  activity  in  of  and that  activities  required  have  all the  order  some  normative  every  normative  in cheque w r i t i n g .  rules do  of  cheques  the  engaging  develop  controversy  disputed rules  before  the  satisfying  practice  without  and/or  demand  what  that some  Typically,  rules  be  the  associated  possible aspect of a  may  without  with  every  be  about  of  degrees of understanding of normative  to  closely  to  degrees  in our lives, I cannot  necessary  It  are  transgressions  involved  critical.  the  for  place  there  know everything  fact that there are  is  that  in writing one.  action  The  noted  the but New  old rules.  which serve  . This point is made by many philosophers in many ways. Charles Taylor uses the example of voting to show how the relevant action is constituted as an act of voting by the concept and its place in our lives and necessarily involves certain understanding and intention on the part af the voter. Hilary Putnam's opening argument in Reason, Truth and History is based on the point that no matter what kind of path an ant traces in the sand, the line it leaves is not a depiction or representation of anything (including Winston Churchill) because the ant is, as far as we know, incapable of intending to depict things. 1  Rules and normative activities / 135 to establish a framework for the interpretation and revision of the rest of the normative structure, as is typical of the relationship between a constitution and the by-laws of an organization, but there is not always recourse to another rule which explains or fixes the interpretation of any rule in question.  This general  notion arises  in two somewhat  distinct issues.  The first of these  issues has to do with the fact that sets of rules for normative activities do not completely specify every aspect of those actions which are to count as fulfillment, transgression, judgment  is  or obedience, required  etc.  to  Rules must be interpreted and, in many cases  decide  borderline  cases.  Some  cases  may  be  indeterminate. As Wittgenstein says, there is a certain vagueness in the rules of games,  but they are games for all of that  involves the  problem of "infinite regress"  Concept of Mind. These two issues, for  the  nature  of  normative  as  (PI, Para. taken  taken together,  activities  and  the  100).  The second  issue  up by Gilbert Ryle in A have important implications place  of judgment  in  our  explanations. Each of these issues will be dealt with in turn.  Perhaps the clearest examples sets of rules. Games  of rule-governed activities are games with formal  like tennis  or chess can be said to be defined by, or  constituted by, the rules which govern those who take part in them. Engaging in one of these games involves the use of many different kinds of rules including the constitutive rules which "make up" the game, strategic rules in the form of heuristics  or  procedures  for  achieving  success,  different kinds of disputes, critical standards,  auxiliary  etc.  rules  Nonetheless,  for  arbitrating  in spite of the  many and varied kinds of rules, if one is engaged in playing the game,  many  Rules and normative activities / 136 of one's actions are not determined  by the rules. Tennis  has no rule regarding  how high or hard one throws the ball, as Wittgenstein points out (PI, Para. 68). Chess has no specific requirements  regarding the size of the pieces or how  are to be held when being moved. But this incompleteness  they  or vagueness of rules  for games does not prevent the games from being played or mean that they are incomplete  Often,  as rule-governed activities.  we  are inclined  to think  that  a  well  formulated  rule  determines  our  judgments on some particular issue. But this can be misleading. Typically, rules are determinate  only for standard  cases. We  know  for instance, that deceiving  someone for one's own personal benefit is wrong because it is a case violating the  moral  principle  of treating  someone  as an  end  rather  than  a means.  Nevertheless it is not difficult to think of examples which are morally ambiguous at worst before  (e.g., falsely  applying  requirements  for a  representing one's attitude raise). Even  for a university  may  more apply  towards the boss's  specific  rules  curriculum  performance. While or  otherwise  and  relatively  there may  irregular  as the entrance  in a straightforward manner only to  students who have a typical history involving attendance particular  such  new hat  standard  ways  at schools which have a of  measuring  student  be special provision for applications from foreign  students,  rules  are  typically  created  to  deal  with  eventualities which do arise, not with all conceivable cases.  Similar points can be made about some of the sets rules which have been a focus  of the dissertation  so far. The rules  which  govern  the use of concept  labels, for instance, need not be so complete or precise as to settle, in advance",  Rules and normative activities / 137 all possible questions about the extension of a term. How could they? But there is a general notion that there are rules which could, at least in principle, be discovered, and which determine whether any particular judgment is correct, or not.  1  Perhaps this notion is derived from an analogy with the widely accepted  notion that all physical events are caused according to natural laws which could, at least in principle, be discovered. The notion seems particularly prevalent among those who take geometry or deductive logic as exemplifying rationality in general and has been associated historically with Frege. But, logic and the standards  of rationality need not form some kind of perfectly ordered and  complete structure in order to serve a purpose or be adequate for our needs.  2  Rules are created by human beings for particular purposes, that is, to achieve certain ends or avoid certain problems within particular contexts. They are only as clearly defined as need be to accomplish those objectives. These realizations should help us avoid thinking of rules (including concepts and norms) as abstract entities which are clear and perfectly ordered in themselves but only roughly or imperfectly perceived due to the limited understanding of human beings. We can also avoid thinking that cases not clearly determined according to existing sets of rule formulations must be determined according to tacit rules, as Schon suggests . Several versions of this view are criticized by Baker and Hacker in Language, (1984). This view is also implied by Norris when he suggests that research could eventually determine the correct application of terms such as mental ability, although the point is somewhat obscured by Norris's failure to recognize that meaning of terms is a normative matter, dependent on our practices, rather than a matter for empirical determination. This is an alternative to the view that there must be a special activity or faculty which determines judgments in cases not covered by rules expressed as formulations. The 'special activity' view will be discussed below. "The preconceived idea of [the] crystalline purity [of logic] can only be removed by turning our whole examination around. (One might say: the axis of reference of our examination must be rotated, but about the fixed point of our real need.)" (Wittgenstein, PI, Para. 108). 1  Sense and Nonsesense  2  Rules and normative activities / 138 in his accounts of reflective thinking.  1  A  more perspicuous rendering might be  that judgments in some such cases are part of the social creation of new norms, in  others,  that  we  must  decide  how  to interpret  existing  rules  under  new  circumstances.  Only in some cases is it important for rules to preclude ambiguous cases or to have a sharply it desirable ought  defined  field of application. Only for some normative activities is  or necessary  to be done  to have  in cases  when  a formal rules  hierarchy  appear  of rules  to conflict  to define  what  or more than one  standard seems relevant. It is a mistake to think  that normative activities must  or  which  should  have  an underlying  structure  of rules  can be operated  as a  calculus in which there are determinate and formal procedures for deriving valid rules from a finite set of axioms and definitions.  Closely  associated  need have neither  with Wittgenstein's realization that rules and systems of rules sharp boundaries nor determine all aspects of a practice, is a  point which has been raised by many philosophers, but is most closely associated with Gilbert Ryle. Ryle points cases, upon required rule  a further  'following  of interpretation  a rule' cannot depend, in all  or application. For, if every  rule  a higher order rule to govern its application to particular cases, each  application  commonly  rule  out that  known  would  involve  an  as the problem  taken this to imply  that  infinite  series  of infinite  of steps.  regress.  2  Some  This  problem is  philosophers  have  there must be some special sort of activity or some  ^ e e Schon (1987) for an example and Selman (1988c, pp. .184-7) for a critique of Schon's work on this point. . Notice that adverting to tacit rules does not avoid this problem but merely pushes it back to another level. 2  Rules and normative special  faculty  which  is involved  rule-governed. Thus, Oakeshott  in the application  activities / 139  of rules  but is not  searches for:  "[w]hat is required in addition to information ... which enables us to interpret it, to decide upon its relevance, to recognize what rule to apply  and to discover what  action permitted by the rule  the circumstances, be performed,  should, in  ... [something] capable of carrying us  across those wide open spaces, to be found in every ability, where no rule runs" (1967, p.  The  168).  required kind of knowledge/ability is called, in this case, judgment.  writers  have  posited  a  special  type  of activity  or faculty,  sometimes  judgment but also by many other terms, including intuition. Alasdair  Other called  Maclntyre  associates this point with Aristotle's notion of phronesis (sometimes translated as practical wisdom or judgment). In Maclntyre's words:  "So  we are faced with these alternatives: either we have to posit an  infinite hierarchy of rules or there is a kind of activity which  may  involve the application of rules to instances, but which itself is rule governed"  (1988, p.  not  117).  This way of putting things seems likely to be misleading. It suggests that the exercise of judgment, (what Maclntyre calls 'phronetic activity') is separate or  of a different kind than, rule-governed  were a final  stage of appeal that each  pass  after having  through  passed  through  from,  activities. Phronesis sounds as if it  rule  application  would  be required to  whatever intermediate applications of  higher order rules might be required. It sounds as if good judgment might be  Rules and normative activities / 140 facility  at  a  particular  sort  of  activity,  a  special  phronimos possesses but which others do not. The  skill  perhaps,  which  question arises, how  the  could the  novice ever apply a rule without this special skill to bring to an end the infinite regress?  A  similar notion is found in Kant:  If  [logic] sought  to  give  rules,  is, to  we  distinguish  are to  under  something  does or does not come under them, that could only be  means of another  that  how  subsume  by  these  general instructions  whether  rule. This in turn, for the very  reason  that it is a rule, again demands guidance  from judgment.  thus  is capable of being  it appears  instructed, peculiar  and  talent  that  though  of being which  understanding  equipped  can  be  with  practiced  taught ... [an error in subsumption ... not  having  adequate are  through  only,  and  under rules] may  examples  and  is a  cannot  be  be due to  actual  practice,  training for this particular act of judgment ... Examples  thus  Reason,  received  rules, judgment  And  the A  go-cart of judgment, 133-4,  B  172-3  (from  and  The  quoted  Critique of Pure  in  Hacker,  1986,  pp. 174-5n.)  Again,  this  seems  misleading, not  perceptive remarks about good  judgment,  but  phronesis is thought  on  account  the role of training  because to be  the a  talent  particular  of the and  sensible  and  examples in developing  is thought 'kind  very  to  be  of activity.'  'peculiar' Consider  as the  Rules and following example. An  normative activities / 141  apprentice is helping a carpenter build a floor.  One  of the tasks of the apprentice is to bring pieces of wood which are to be cut and  used as joists. At first, the carpenter must instruct the apprentice  regarding each piece, pointing out relevant features like knots, checking, or bad milling, which make it inappropriate for the purpose at hand. Gradually the  apprentice  wood's being apprentice  comes to understand good or appropriate  the  standards  involved in a  for a  particular  task. Gradually, if the  applies himself, is reasonably  explanation, he instruction  intelligent, and  piece of  is given  sufficient  will be able to choose pieces which are appropriate  or without  such frequent instruction. He  without  will have developed  a  sense of judgment albeit in a limited domain.  As and  Kant  says, such training may  actual practice, but  is the  governed  activitj''?  standards  as taught by the experienced  may  have  developed  The  where  necessarily involve the use  apprentice  these  has  'peculiar talent' or learned  to  carpenter. The  rules himself  from  may  understand  more  than  taught never to use  compressive  strength, or  judge  'non-rule  according  experienced  to  carpenter  close to the bottom  that the lower edge of a  joist is under tension when load is applied and strength  the  seeing, for instance, that  joists with large knots near the centre of a span and edge are likely to snap, or he  of examples  he  that knots affect tensile may  simply  have  a joist with a large knot near the bottom edge.  been Qua  selection of joists in standard circumstances, good judgment need not depend on a peculiar kind of talent with a particular sort of provenance or on the exercise of any  particular kind of activity. Good judgment, at least in this  Rules and normative case,  is not something  in addition  to being  able  and  activities / 142 inclined  to act  according to the rules and standards one been taught or otherwise learned; it is simply having learned to do it properly.  The  concept  of judgment  is, of course,  contexts. A  central  make  decisions in apparently  good  unusual  situations  use involves claims  or cases  appealed about  the ability  indeterminate  in which  to in many  of a person to  situations,  the available  different  rules  in new and  and  standards  appear to be in conflict. Poor judgment, in this sense, often implies that a person  is inclined  important situation  to act rashly,  factors, or by narrowly which  requires  a  without  taking into  adhering  broader  view.  account  all of the  to a particular standard In this  sense  in a  of the word,  judgment is not required for the interpretation of standard cases, which can be decided relatively mechanically, but is crucial to recognizing the features which  make  a  case  non-standard  and in making  judgments  in new or  borderline cases.  Many  complex  normative  activities  are characterized by  purposes, standards, principles, exemplars, officially formulated  a multiplicity of  and practices, and, in some cases,  regulations and policies as well. Often, the participant  in these activities faces problems in deciding on an action or judgment not because she lacks knowledge of the relevant norms but because the norms are  not "perspicuously  certain difficulty  purposes  more  in seeing  ordered," important  for instance, when than  the relationships  others  between  the context  makes  but the participant the standards  has  which are  Rules and normative  activities / 143  relevant and irrelevant to those particular purposes.  No  doubt, certain kinds of teaching are more conducive than others to the  development relevant seems  of  a  more  systematic  standards. Returning only  reasonable  to  to the expect  or  perspicuous  case  of the  that  an  understanding  of  the  apprentice carpenter, it  apprentice  who  is  given  explanations for rejecting each unusable board, rather than simply being told that it is no good, will be more likely to be able to make good judgments in  new  cases. He  which one  is more likely  to recognize, for instance, situations in  of the standard criteria are irrelevant, as when the joist is not  load-bearing. Being able to connect the standards the lower third of a joist.") with the purposes  (e.g. "No  large knots in  (maximizing the load-bearing  capacity of the floor) is a part of having a perspicuous understanding or having good judgment.  Experience with 'real life' examples is crucial to developing a perspicuous understanding of the rules of a normative  activity, at least in part because  such examples typically involve making judgments involved at balancing the requirements  of a variety  between maximizing materials  of standards. Some balance must be  load-bearing capacity and  at hand. Whether  cause rejection may  or not  exactly  defect is sufficiently  what  important to  are available, how  close  span, what the likely use of the floor is  to be, etc. It should be noted that we specify  getting the job done with the  depend on what other boards  the joists are to their maximum  to  a  maintained  defects  could develop highly specialized rules are  inadmissable  under  particular  Rules and normative activities / 144 circumstances.  However, the multiplicity of possible situations, the fact that  1  it is easier to overbuild than to tailor each piece to its precise role in a structure, and  the relative forgivingness of frame construction which  to distribute the stress from  any  particular weak point, means that  rules would be more trouble  than  they would  typically  with  rules  function  determine  adequately  correctness of judgment but  of  serve  be  worth.  thumb, as  such  Thus, carpenters  rules  guides  tends  which  do  not  to good judgment.  What Oakeshott refers to as "those wide open spaces, to be found in every ability, where no rule runs" are a function of the degree of specificity with which  it is sensible to have  rules are will be determined of  the  consequences  of  explicitly  formulated rules. How  detailed the  by the nature of the practice, by the gravity  mistakes  and  the  degree  of  precision  necessary to fulfill the relevant purposes. Normally, the purposes are  also  rather  reasonable  loosely  load, but  determined.  past  a  certain  A  floor  is expected  point, we  are  which is themselves  to hold up  inclined  any  to blame, or  question the judgment, of those using the floor if they load it beyond its capacity.  Too often, philosophers have been inclined to take geometry, or formal logic, as  the  paradigmatic  examples  of  rule-governed  systems.  While  they  do  exemplify some aspects of normative systems, they can be misleading if we think that they set the standard to which all normative conform. rationally  Many of the rules, standards, and are  not  determinate  for  activities ought to  concepts employed  all possible  cases,  T These rules would function like Kovesi's "complete moral their application would unequivocally determine correctness.  but  in thinking that  is not  concepts" in that  I  Rules and normative activities / 145 necessarily a defect in our understanding of rationality or our practices of reasoning. rules by  Our  standards  which we  for reasoning are  as  context dependent  cook, build houses, or write theses, and  as  the  the need for  judgment is evident in all of these. Nevertheless, the requirement of good judgment  should not be  above an  interpreted  as  appreciation of the purposes  a demand  for something  for which we  over  engage in an  and  activity  and an understanding of the waj s in which rules serve those purposes. r  Another feature of normative activities, one which was account of rules, is the way  in which  have been called "internal goods." is good  about  activities generate  what  Consider the activity of driving a car.  1  Some of what  normative  not prefigured in the  driving  a  car  is good  independent  of the  existence of cars, the practice of driving, or the rules which govern driving a car. Such goods are the relative speed, comfort, and individual freedom of driving  when  transportation  compared were  to other  available  means  which  of transport. If other means of  were  better  driving a car, the activity of driving might  be  in  these  regards  than  abandoned on the grounds  that these values were being maximized in other ways.  For  some  people,  however,  cars  and  the  skilful  driving  of  cars  have  intrinsic worth. Some people enjoy driving as an activity or enjoy watching others  who  are  particularly  good  at  it. To  the  extent  that  these  are  T This terminology s borrowed from Charles Taylor (1988) and who adopted it frm Maclntyre (1981). It may be noted that I will use the notion of goods internal to a practice in contrast with goods external to that practice, not as Taylor and Maclntyre do, in contrast with "transcendent goods." My use of 'practice' is more inclusive than Maclntyre's, also.  Rules and normative activities / 146 valued, they are valued as part of a practice and have no independent existence apart from the practice. Part of being 'on the inside' of a practice often involves valuing those goods which are internal to a practice. Coming to be competent or good at an activity may involve coming to appreciate internal goods as being good. Notice that by their very nature (by  definition)  participants  1  such  goods  are  inaccessible  to  those  who  are  not  in the practice. While this need not be the case with a  practice such as driving, full participation in some activities requires coming to care about its internal goods. I take it that this is R.S. Peters's fundamental point when he stresses the intrinsic value of education and our intellectual practices.  To summarize these features of normative activities, they involve: 1.  intentional activities in which the notions of right and wrong, better and worse, correct and incorrect, are appropriate;  2.  agreement and the common recognition of rules as authoritative;  3.  rules which are typically only as exact and complete as is necessary for normal practice; and often,  4.  internal  goods  or  values  which  are  inextricably  tied  to  the  particularities of a practice.  \ "Participation" may take avariety of forms. In the sense I am using it, "participation" includes judging, criticizing, appreciating, and teaching, as well as active participation, as long as judgments of those who are judging and criticizing are guided by the same norms and concepts which guide what we might term "direct" participation.  Rules and normative activities / 147 CONSEQUENCES  5.4.  A  F O R CRITICAL  THINKING  major consequence of accepting what I have argued  rules and normative  is a 'realistic picture' of  activities is the recognition that rules, procedures, standards,  strategies, and the like, are part of a semantic field or language  game which  can and ought to be distinguished from the linguistic practices in which concepts such as structures, processes, mechanisms, habits, skills, and many other terms common in the field of critical thinking are at home. Rules, procedures, and the like, may  be adopted  for use hy anyone  acquired. Processes may  occur  naturally  whereas  habits  and skills must be  whereas strategies  and procedures are  developed by people for purposes. One must know a rule (though one need not be  able to formulate it) in order to use it, whereas mechanisms and processes  may  operate independently of human agency. Rules may  be formulated whereas  structures, skills, and the like can only be described. If writers in the field of critical  thinking  were  to take  cognizance  of the characteristics  of rules and  rule-related concepts, they would be more careful than they are in their use of these terms.  Care with such distinctions ought to mitigate the tendency  to make certain sorts  of mistakes such as those made by Sternberg and Norris when they mistake a procedural set of steps for a process or mechanism.1 in  these  ability.  terms, they But what  procedure. A  believe it plays a causal role  they  take  to be a  mechanism  As a result of describing it in the production of an is best  understood  as a  procedure does not cause an ability 6r the exercise of an ability,  . Discussed in section 3.2 above.  Rules and normative activities / 148 although it may guide (intentional) action.  1  This mistake is important in that a  mechanistic account is likety to obscure the intentional or purposive character of students' reasoning.  A second consequence of this conception of rules is related to the issue of whether or not we can have a culturally or politically neutral set of standards for critical thinking. When it is recognized that all rules are created by human beings, either deliberately by groups or individuals in authority over the relevant jurisdiction, or collectively through the historic development of social practices, the possibility of a neutral set of standards seems implausible. In either sort of case, rules are developed in order to serve purposes. While it is true that there are some purposes which are very broadly shared by human beings, it is also true that different cultural groups and social classes have differing purposes. Given that those interested in critical thinking want to develop standards for thinking in many different areas of human interest, it is unrealistic to suppose that any particular formulation of the standards for critical thinking can be based on anything but the purposes which are at least somewhat specific to a particular cultural and political context. At any rate this conception should help us avoid the idea that there is any ground for certainty about rules and standards which exists outside of the practices of some existing cultural/linguistic community, in contrast to conceptions which seem to to imply that there are transcendent or ideologically neutral sets of standards to be found through the abstract practices of logic or through the supposed objectivity of scientific research. '. Donald Davidson might suggest that knowledge of a procedure might serve as a reason for acting and therefore as a cause of the behaviour, but this is a very different sense of cause from that implied by Norris and Sternberg.  Rules and normative A  activities / 149  third consequence this conception of rules for approaches to critical thinking is  related to understanding (as a with  how  set of words), then judgment  has  rules are learned. The learn to use  dominated  many  to  critical  Those  that judgment cannot with  relevant  a  more  theories  practice.  1  of  sciences) normative again, judgment  scientific  first  Theories  be  of abstract symbols, then teach how  so  that  critical  suggest  they thinking  in the sense  is thought  taught, but must be  bent  on  that we  have are  that they  to wait  to apply it  thinking. Logicians  rules can be used in the analysis of 'everyday' reasoning, and suggest  learn a rule  it or apply it, then learn  approaches  teach rules of implication in the form  notion that we  them  and  (unlike  then, with Kant,  learned through must  teach  can  theories  these  students  apply in  practice.  them  the  the in  physical  are intended to guide practice. Once  experience  in the  application  of these  theories.  What the conception of rules and many  rules  are  not  learned  normative  this  way  activities shows us, however, is that at  all. Many  rules,  standards,  and  procedures are never formulated. They are learned in practice, as in the case of the carpenter's apprentice. They experienced  practitioner  may  mistakes, criticizing lapses, and  can  help  be a  taught, at least in the sense novice  by  setting  examples,  explaining individual judgments and  that an correcting  criteria. (It is  not clear that there is another sense of teaching to be contrasted with this one.) But in this case we or appreciating the  see no separation between having learned the relevant rule appropriate standard  and  having  good judgment  about this  T The inadequacies o f t h i s approach are as evident in the way we prepare teachers to teach well as they are to the way we prepare thinkers to think well.  Rules and normative activities / 150 sort of thing.  Once we are  see this point, we  can reconsider  taught a rule-formulation  the sort of case in which students  and then taught  to apply  the rule expressed by  the formulation. What they learn is how the rule is used, just as the apprentice learns how the joists are selected. Thus, we can see that it was only the idea that the rule was instantiated in the rule-formulation of this three apply  which created  the picture  stage process of learning the rule (as a formulation),  learning to  it, then  implies  only  relevant  applying  that  rules  it with  a person  judgment.  is good  and standards.  The  at some  It does  attribution of good  practice  not imply  as judged  the person  judgment  against the  has any  other  capacity, much less a special faculty, over and above knowing the rule.  This gives  us good reason to reject a position we  already  had good reason to  reject, that is, the idea that judgment (or intuition) is a special skill, a faculty, or a mechanism. an  extra  But it is also reason to reject Ennis's  category, something other  than  the abilities  account of judgment as and tendencies listed as  aspects of critical thinking.  The final consequence of this conception  to be considered  is related to the idea  of internal goods. It is also related to the grounds on which we  believe that  instruction and inquiry in the field of critical thinking is important. There are many reasons why we would want to teach  students to think well and why  we  would want to understand what it means to think "well. Many are very practical, having to do with the capacity to achieve one's purposes. Though  some try to  Rules and justify  teaching  consistency  critical  thinking  on  these  grounds,  normative activities / and  on  the  missing  grounds  of  with other ideais (e.g. Harvey Siegel, 1988), there is something about  such justification that seems to miss the point. What is missing be  151  from many texts and  appears also to  programs of instruction for critical thinking. It  is, I believe, a sense of the goods internal to the practice of thinking.  People do  not  try to think well in general  because it is required well because appreciate  we  the  by  want  our  to  we  care  commitment to other  understand  way  care  to other  standards. We  things, because, to  standards of good reason we  have been initiated in one and  because it leads  the  goods or  try to think  extent  that  we  about good reason. All of us  or another into the practice(s) of being rational  about it for its own  sake. It is this sense of appreciation of the  goods internal to the practice of thinking which are left out of many texts which take a rather  technical or instrumental  technique although one areas.  An  critical  may  is that  critical thinking is not  need techniques in order to think critically  important part of what we  thinker  approach. But  they  value  mean when we  certain  goods, the  say  a  in some  that someone is a  goods  internal to  the  practice.  What this- conception  of rules points out is that these are not innate values  natural wants. Thej' are values  which one  or  learns in learning to think rationally.  It seems reasonable to suppose that explicit attention to these values would be useful part of encouraging people to be critical.  a  6. C O N C L U S I O N S ,  CONSEQUENCES,  AND FUTURE  DIRECTIONS  There is a sense in which this thesis is more of a prolegomenon to future work in critical thinking than it is the development of a theory or even a conception of  critical  inconsistency  thinking. and  The  has  inconsistency with  responsible  views  briefly  issues raised  the  field  have  critical thinking, their  been  been what  surveyed I  have  pointed out. This, the  in the  first chapter. Each  inadequacies, and  the  and argued  areas  of  are  philosophically  concluding chapter, of the  five  internal  reviews  approaches to  status of the problems and issues  identified, are reassessed. In keeping with the promise of the introduction, there are few a  positive recommendations of a practical nature to be derived from  work. What  tradition  value this work has  of Wittgenstein. The  notion of therapy  final  is likely section  to be  of this  such  therapeutic, rather in the chapter  elaborates on  in the context of issues in critical thinking and  this  offers some  more speculative comments on future directions in the field. In particular, I draw attention  to the  connection between  rationality  and  the  ideal of a  non-coerced  community. This Kantian notion, which has been revived by both pragmatists critical theorists, says and  social  relations  something important  in promoting  and  about the role of social environment  or impeding  the  development  of practices of  rationality.  6.1. F I V E A P P R O A C H E S  While proceed  REVISITED  conceptual work rarely leads to any  clear conclusions about how  best to  in practical matters, it can sometimes provide reasons for rejecting ideas  152  Conclusions,  Consequences, and  Future Directions /  153  which might otherwise appear plausible. This is certainty the case with regard to the  process  approach  mistaken notion reference  to  critical  that using  is being  the  thinking,  which  same word  in a  was  seen  number  made to some particular process.  The  to  rest  on  the  of cases means that fact that there  is no  empirical support offered for the belief that the analysis of a chemical compound is made easier or less challenging by  practice at analyzing  weaknesses in basketball games, to take one  of Ennis's  words or opponents'  examples (1985, p. 45),  serves as supporting evidence.  The  problem  Thinking  solving  of the  things - one  sort that can  may,  of problems one strategy  or  approach  was be  also  found  good or bad  wanting is not  might  wish  procedure, as  to  solve  is implied  even a useful procedure may this  approach  standards. Modern  several  reasons.  always aimed at solving  for instance, merely wish to understand something. The are by  not  usefully addressed  those who  neither good thinking nor problem solving is simply  adopt  for  have  be  adopt this  by  accounts of the  failed  to  develpment  any  one  approach. Also,  the adoption of a procedure -  used carelessly or insensitively but  generally  range  develop  the  of scientific  Lakatos's, give cause for skepticism that there is any  those  relevant  who  sets  of  knowledge, such  as  particular method, process,  or procedure which exemplifies good scientific thinking, much less good thinking in general.  The  logic approach is problematic  both at the  level of conceptualization  terms of the instructional methods by which it is taught. Conceptually,  and  in  the notion  of logic, if restricted to syntactic rules, is too narrow to refer to all of what is  Conclusions, Consequences, and Future Directions / 154 important  to good reasoning.  Certainly the standards  of deductive logic are  insufficient to account for much of our reasoning. At most, logical competence is a necessary condition of being a good reasoner and even this is disputed by philosophers as respected as Gilbert Harman. Knowledge of the concept labels and rule-formulations employed by logicians is not a necessary condition. Even if one is willing to accept a conception of logic which includes inductive and informal logic, it fails to include many important aspects of reasoning, especially those which depend cn semantic  distinctions.  Goodman's green/grue  example  showed how inference patterns which are central to the practice of the natural sciences depend on a history of practice, rather than simply on syntactic rules, for their validity.  The practical consequences  of misunderstanding the role of logic in reasoning,  coupled perhaps with a misunderstanding of what a rule is, are evident in programs  of instruction based on the logic approach.  Most obvious is the  frequently encountered predeliction for teaching syntactic rule formulations and strategies  for  their  application.  Comparatively  little  emphasis  is  placed on  assessing whether an argument is important, on what Coombs refers to as the norms of deliberation (Coombs, 1989), or on the relationship between various types of value standards. While increasingly texts use examples of 'everyday' reasoning,  there is little attempt to deal with value related issues in any  systematic fashion.  The information processing approach is more diverse and harder to characterize than the previous three approaches,  However, certain problems are relatively  Conclusions, Consequences, and Future Directions / 155 universal. Preeminent with  mental,  objectivity expense the of  among  normative,  associated  these is the consistent  and  with  even  modal  natural  science  failure  concepts. have  of a coherent sense of mental and  So  been  to deal adequately far, claims  purchased  only  to  the  at the  normative concepts. Since these are  concepts in which our inquiries are framed, their distortion destroys any hope having our  social  practices  questions answered as  norms, rules, and  too  contingent  in any to  satisfying  provide a  reference, is, perhaps, one  manner. The  suitably  objective  rejection of ground for  of the causes of this problematic  theorizing.  The  final  approach  to be  considered  other approaches, it has not been While one  is the multi-aspect  approach. Unlike  the  shown to be based on mistaken assumptions.  of its proponents (Stephen Norris) fell prey to some of the problems  which  plagued proponents of the information processing approach, this need not  affect  our  major  areas for concern. One  assessment  of the  approach  in general. There  is is related to problems  quantification of abilities and sub-abilities. A  are, however, three  in the individuation or  second the degree to which the role  of values in assessing thinking has been undervalued or overlooked. The the  misleading picture of judgment  third is  as something separate from, or additional to,  ability. Each of these issues will be dealt with in the following sections.  6.2.  ISSUES  AND PROBLEMS  Several of the issues and  REVISITED  problems  with which  this inquiry  began  have  been  settled sufficiently for present purposes. Significant doubts have been cast on the  Conclusions, Consequences, and Future Directions / 156 plausability, or the completeness (as conceptions of critical thinking) of the process approach,  the  formulations  problem  of the  solving  approach,  information-processing  and  the  approach  logic  have  approach.  been  seen  confusion over the relationship between the language of physicalist and  Existing  to involve normative  explanations. Thus, the ensuing discussion will focus primarily on the multi-aspect approach.  Included  in the category  of issues which have been settled in so far as possible  at present is the notion of a neutral conception of critical thinking and sharp and  distinction having  the  between ability  misleading, the  first  range of purposive purposes which vary political  factors.  closely related  The  knowledge to process  because thought  and  ability  it. These  all conceptions are  bound  or  between  notions  have  encompassing  to reflect  the  are  misleading  to attributions of ability. To  because  been enough  priorities  at least somewhat in accordance with latter  having  that of a information  shown  to  to cover  and  the  background  cultural, social,  knowledge  be  claims  are  and so  have certain information is, among  other things, to have certain capacities.  More problematic is the issue which has dominated inquiry in the field - that is, the issue of generalizability or transfer. It has  served as a particular interest of  Robert Ennis. When put in the language of the multi-aspect approach, the issue is most commonly construed as involving the extent to which various abilities are relevant to performance at thinking tasks in a range of different subject areas or fields of knowledge. The  question I want to ask is, "What fixes the reference of  the term ability so that we  know whether we  are referring to the same ability  Conclusions, Consequences, and Future Directions / 157 or a different one?" This, I take it is the issue which drove Norris to the position that there must be a mental structure or mechanism to which the term ability, in each case, refers. We have seen that this is not true, that it is based on the fallacious reduction of an ability to the structure of its vehicle. So, what else might fix the reference?  The only plausible candidate is our linguistic practices. But, I suggest that our linguistic practices with regard to ability claims are so context dependent as to provide little assistance. For instance, take the way we use the phrase 'can read' in the following sentences. 1.  I can read even though I am not reading right now.  2.  I can't read when I am asleep.  3.  I can't read because there is not enough light.  4.  I can read because I learned as a child.  5.  I can read but I can't read this - it's in German.  Notice that all of the statements could be translated into ability-talk quite easily and without affecting the issue under discussion. Given suitable circumstances, all of the above statements could be true simultaneously, even though some assert and some deny that I 'can read.' What 'can read' means is in each case modified by the phrase following. What we mean with claim 1 is that, given relatively standard circumstances, I will meet some relatively unspecified level of performance at the activity of reading a relatively standard text in a language I know. But what counts as standard circumstances, level of performance, standard text, etc. is defined by the context, who I am, the modifying clauses, and so on. What then, is the ability to read?  Conclusions, Consequences, and Future Directions / 158 Researchers in critical thinking want to know whether certain abilities are closely tied to particular contexts or whether  they  are more general. How can we find  out when the reference of the word ability changes from one context to another?  Recall also my argument in section 3.3 that abilities could not be understood as sets of sub-abilities without risking confusion. I suggested that the solution to this problem for the multi-aspect approach is to be clear that the list of abilities is a list of tasks a critical thinker ought to be good at or a set of criteria for the attribution of the term critical thinker.  1  But these ways of understanding the  list of abilities are of no help in determining how generally abilities apply because it is obvious that what counts as one task or two tasks, one criterion or two criteria,  is simply a matter of definition or convention. However, I  suggest that the same holds true of 'abilities.' This poses a grave difficulty, I believe, for the notion defended by both Norris and Ennis, that empirical research will determine the degree of generalizability of critical thinking abilities. Unless some philosophically responsible way of fixing the meaning of 'ability' is found, the notion is unsuitable for the work which Norris and Ennis wish it to do.  This does not, of course, preclude empirical work in this area. One might, for instance, test whether students who are good at accurately reporting observations in the context of a science lab are more successful than those who are not when it comes to reporting the events in a play or a movie (although we have T This approach is quite compatible with Ennis's earlier (1967) analysis of critical thinking but is harder to reconcile with the langauge of his later works which makes greater use of 'abilities' and even 'skills' (especially 1985).  Conclusions, Consequences, and Future Directions / 159 good  reason  considerably whether  to suppose according  there  that  to their  are any  situations involving  what  people  interests  heuristics  notice  and  remember  and experience). One  with  general  utility  reporting observations. But, even  might  across  if there  will  a  vary  determine variety of  are such  general  heuristics, the question of whether we ought to posit the existence of a general ability  to report observations remains open. What we count as an ability  depends  on the context, not the means by which the task is attempted.  A  second major issue is the place of normative or value judgments in critical  thinking. I have drawn attention to the way in which judgments about thinking (in  the sense in which we  are interested in thinking) are normative judgments  made on the basis of standards of rationality. This suggests of the practice of thinking critically But  reasoning  instructional  both  with  materials  and  designed  that a central part  is the practice of making value judgments.  about  values  for teaching  has  been  largely  thinking according  ignored in  to any of the  approaches.  The  result  developed  is not that  students  fail  to develop  values, but that  the values  are not viewed as objects of criticism, and subject to revision much as  our beliefs are. We  ought to recognize that an important part of being a critical  thinker  is the appreciation of the goods  internal  to the practice  of thinking.  Critical  thinking curricula and programs of instruction ought to be designed  with  the explicit goal of bringing students to care about these values and appreciate these standards. As I have argued, we cannot consistently accept both the ideal of  disengagement  from  the values  and traditions  of our culture(s) (or simply  Conclusions, Consequences, and  Future Directions / 160  pretend that some form of natural science will replace epistemic and other values or  determine  what they  practices as intrinsically engagement realistic  which  and  'really are'), and worthwhile.  also hold the values internal to our  For this reason I suggest that the modified  characterizes the  interpretive  perspicuous epistemic position from  stance  ought  to  serve  which to view and  as  criticize  a our  existing practices.  One  writer who  Robert  has  devoted  attention to the place of values in critical thinking  Ennis. In his early work, when Ennis understood  the correct evaluation of statements, he He  did recognize that this exclusion was  his  more recent work, he has argued  "reflective and  offered no a gap  critical thinking to be  analysis of value  to be  statements.  filled (1967, p. 117). In  that critical thinking is best understood  as  reasonable thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe or  do" (e.g. 1985, p. 45). In explicating this more broader conception, some analysis of  what is involved in making  (e.g.  Item A, 6, e, in 1980,  and  judging value judgments has  p. 13; and  been included  Item 8, explicated in 1985,  p. 46, and  1989, pp. 185-6).  Ennis  himself  explicating relatively  notes  what  is  that  these  involved  in  analyses  provide  thinking  critically  modest place that value  only  a  about  starting value  point in  issues.  reasoning plays in his conceptions  The  is made  evident in the absence of value related aspects of critical thinking in his various tests. If, as I have argued, making value judgments is at the heart of critical thinking, then shortcoming.  this relatively  limited  treatment  of value  reasoning  is a serious  Conclusions, Consequences, and Future Directions / 161 Another  significant  development  in Ennis's  work  on  critical  thinking which is  relevant to evaluating his treatment of values in critical thinking is the declining attention  given  to  the  purposes"  from  his  1967  tends to detract from all  our  standards  place  of  conception  life') tends  of good  connections  to be  explicit  pragmatic  dimension"  and  to his most recent work.  "background  This ommision  1  the value of his later work, in that the connection with reasoning  actual examples of reasoning and of  "the  and  our  judgments  about  our fundamental commitments  the (even  quality our  overlooked. I have tried to make the importance  in developing  a  conception  of interpretive  reason  of 'way  of these in section  4.3.  One  further concern  value judging as  a  about Ennis's treatment "type  deductive inference. While  of values is his characterization of  of inference" to be it is difficult  distinguished from  inductive and  to identify exactly what is at stake in  referring to value judging as a type of inference, it seems difficult to conceive of it  as  being  an  equivalent category  to  dedution.  deductive arguments in justifying value judgments,  2  empirical, or conceptual claims. This seems to call  We  can,  of course,  just as we  employ  can in defending  into question the view that  value judging is a different type of inference from deductive infererence.  This issue is of great significance in that educators are quite confused about to  deal  responsibly  with  issues  involving  values.  There  seems  to  be  how great  T. Post 1967, Ennis does not employ what he earlier referred to as "the three dimensions of critical thinking" (1967, p. 117-8). One of these, the pragmatic dimension, was taken to include the role of background purposes in determining how relevant standards were to be applied in a given context. . This is true even if, as I have argued, value judgments and practical decisions are not arrived at by deduction from unquestioned premises. 2  Conclusions, Consequences, and Future Directions / 162 difficulty in finding any if  they  are  the  middle  self-evident  course between asserting values dogmatically, as  product  of  human  relativistic assumption that values are simply people's  attitudes  and  emotional  separate type of inference, then seems likely  states.  intuition,  or  a high toned  Conceptualizing  lapsing into  way  to contribute to teachers' feelings  of speaking of  value  saying little about its standards  the  judging and  as  a  procedures,  of helplessness in dealing with  values issues in a constructive and responsible manner.  6.3. A M O R E P E R S P I C U O U S  The  CONCEPTION  thrust of this dissertation has been to argue for inquiry into critical thinking  as a social practice and been  taken,  most  a normative activity. In so doing, certain positions have  notably,  realism  with  expressive approach to the understanding the understanding  of rationality, and  regard  to  standards  and  values,  an  of language, an interpretive approach to  a social constructivist approach to rules. As  these positions have been established, their relationship with writing about critical thinking has  been discussed. Little  of a systematic nature has  way  of a positive account of critical thinking.  The  critical remarks which make up  the major part of this thesis do suggest, if  not a theory of critical thinking, at least a way be  of characterizing what I take to  a responsible approach to the tasks facing educators  field.  A  succinct  Wittgensteinian following  way  notion  paragraphs  of  of  expressing  this  philosophical inquiry  elucidate some  been said in the  of the  approach as  ways  a  and is  researchers in the to  borrow  the  therapeutic  activity.  The  in which  the  notion  of  a  Conclusions, Consequences, and Future Directions / 163 therapeutic approach may be helpful.  First, we may consider the task of school teachers as therapeutic. Given that students learn the rules and standards of argument, dialogue, and debate as they learn the language, in a variety of contexts involving communication and verbal contestation, we should not regard teachers as introducing their students to critical thinking.  1  A more realistic view of what teachers can do is that they  can diagnose deficiencies in their students' reasoning and, using rules and examples, correct their students' practices. In many ways, this task resembles teaching students to behave according to any complex set of standards, such as those of politeness. In such cases, a central part of coming to be polite, or rational, involves coming to care about certain things and becoming sensitive to relevant  distinctions. Crucial  to  this  enterprise  is  the  development of an  atmosphere in which the giving of reasons is taken seriously (not merely as an academic exercise) and reasons given are evaluated against relatively consistent standards of adequacy.  Notice that teachers need not have a fully developed and articulated theory of rationality or good thinking in order to be successful at this therapeutic task, any more than therapists need a fully articulated notion of the good life or mental health in order to help their patients. For teachers, as for therapists, it may be useful to have familiarity with second order concepts and distinctions to aid in explicit reflection on our practices, but teaching need not consist of instruction  1  in  such  categories.  As  we  . As, for instance, McPeck (1980) does.  have" seen,  starting  with explicit  Conclusions, Consequences, and Future Directions / 164 formulations of rules is not the only way in which rules can be taught or learned.  Sensitivity to a wide range of distinctions is crucial for being able to reason well. In addition to being sensitive to distinctions such as soundness and validity, critical thinkers must be able to distinguish between conceptual claims, empirical claims, and normative judgments. Often such distinctions are context dependent and cannot be explicated according to a formula or differentiated according to a simple procedure. As is sometimes said, such distinctions require judgment. But, as we saw above, developing good judgment is part of learning these distinctions in the sense in which it is most important that thinkers know these distinctions. Students ought to learn to treat conceptual claims as conceptual claims, whether or not they learn to label them property. Whether the best teaching method, in general or in any particular context, is to introduce these distinctions by their labels or to build on the 'implicit grasp' all language speakers have of these distinctions is more a matter to be answered by experienced teachers than by philosophical argument.  One point that teachers ought not overlook is that conceptual and other rules come in clusters of some complexity. Using a word such as 'justice,' or acting according to a rule such as 'choosing the simplest alternative,' are not the sorts of practices which are either mastered or not learned at all. Our knowledge of such rules and concepts admits of degrees. Interpreting rules and standards in new situations is often a challenge and a question of judgment for even the most expert authorities.  Conclusions, Consequences, and In  addition  students claims best  to valuing  should  to  learn  good reasoning and a  variety  of  appreciating  procedures  truth, rational assertability, or  categorized,  perhaps,  as  for  Future Directions / a variety  of distinctions,  establishing  and  good judgment. These  strategies,  in  that  any  given  helpful. It is difficult to make any  in that  their role in our  thinking  inquiry. In some tasks, it may  procedure  for instance, such  as  known  to  produce  critical involves  any  given  procedure  is  variety  one's  constraints  progress  in  such  the  mistaken, and  An  definitive  of,  as  use  a  available  or  particular procedures which  way  carefully. In  merely  likely  any  to  of such strategies  solution time,  part  of  being  the  must be  monitored,  against  contextual  checked  significance  produce, reliable  or  of understanding what teaching critical thinking is, is as  the  students.  As  productively  conceptualized  addition  understanding and  to  case, being  extent to which  of  being  alternative procedure.  attempt to encourage good judgment in the formation of beliefs and the  are  wrong  the potential for adopting an  informative  be  having a realistic idea of the  reaching  areas of  of procedures for testing different claims in  conclusions or judgments. Often, the with  may  a difficult moral issue. In other cases,  reliable conclusions if followed  different areas of knowledge and  not  number  across differing contexts and  problems, there may  knowing a  is  appropriate to utilize a variety of strategies  when trying to understand  mathematical  are  categorical claims about these strategies,  varies  be  evaluating  procedures  typically essential to arriving at a rational judgment, although any be  165  as  has  been  argued  a  special  talent  applying  above, judgment or  skill  which  intentions is  not  on  most  is something in  rules intelligently. Coming to have good  judgment is simply having a developed competence at following a rule within  the  Conclusions, Consequences, and  Future Directions / 166  context of a normative activity. Judgment only appears to be  separate  following  with  of  rules  when  we  conflate  'learning  a  rule'  from  'learning  the a  rule-formulation.'  Regardless starting Kant  of whether rules are learned by  with  examples  in the  of good  realization  judgment. If students  and  bad  that examples  starting with rule-formulations or by practice, it seems  are  central to the  are to become good at reasoning  sensible to follow  development of good  (as opposed to becoming  good at talking about reasoning) they will need ample opportunity to criticize  and  give reasons in support  the  potential  benefit  of  of a  this  variety of judgments. In  practice, students'  reasoning  order must  to maximize be  criticized  alternatives must be  pointed out. Teachers must explain what makes one  more  one  compelling  reason  that  standards  or  teachers  criticism  need  to  more  be  important  able  to  than  articulate  and reason  another. It is for this their  knowledge  of  of critical thinking to a greater extent than is true of those who  the are  interested only in thinking well for themselves.  Given  the  preceding  remarks  about  central  aspects  of  teachers'  tasks  promoting critical thinking, it is instructive to consider what role philosophers  in and  educational theorists might play. Once again, I think that the notion of therapy has  relevance.  A  primary  task  of philosophers,  I suggest, is to criticize  and  undermine confusions based on the misuse of language. In Wittgensteinian terms, such work ought to be therapeutic in that we that some key we  will  will be  discover  the  found to unlock essential nature  ought to be cured of the illusions  the hidden secrets of rationality or that of critical thinking ability.  More  specific  Conclusions, Consequences, and Future Directions / 167 illusions and confusions which have been discussed are the misleading separation of thinking from  emotion  or critical  thinking  from  value reasoning, exaggerated  claims about the role of formalized rules (especially logic) in good reasoning, the misrepresentation of thinking (in general) as a series of unseen inner events or mechanistic processes, and the notion that there is an objective, disinterested set of standards which determine what counts as good thinking. These confusions can be cleared away, I argue, by accepting frankly that 'thinking' is a multi-faceted concept  with  a variety  of loosely  connected  uses, that there is no essence of  thinking to be discovered behind this multiplicity of uses, and that the standards of  good  thinking,  like  the  rules  of  a  game  or  the  standards  of good  workmanship, are a social and historical product developed to serve a varied set of purposes.  Therapuetic philosophy ought to make and  us satified with the somewhat incomplete  partially articulable set of rules, standards, and purposes  which has evolved  through human efforts to understand, argue, . and otherwise communicate. We argue be  may  that, due to changing conditions, certain aspects of our practices ought to  changed, but they  will  be changed  within the context of this  network of  social practices and standards, not by appeal to an external and unconditioned reality, or to some fundamental  Critical  therapj',  aimed  and disinterested level of description.  at exposing  illusions  which  are used  to support and  justify theories and educational practices in the field, is only one way in which philosophers and theorists may  contribute to the field. Another  is by developing  reconstructions of the strategies and articulations (in so far as possible) of the  Conclusions, Consequences, and Future Directions / 168 standards used by competent thinkers. Jerrold Coombs's "Critical Thinking and Problems of Meaning" (1986b) serves as a good example of this sort of work. In it he distinguishes different ways  in which questions  of meaning can be  important and suggests strategies for dealing with some standard sorts of cases.  Notice that there is no limit to the number of problems which might be explicated in these terms. Nor is there a definitive set of appropriate strategies and/or relevant distinctions. Thus, we cannot expect that philosophers will, one by one, explicate the entire field of critical thinking problems. However, incremental improvements seem possible, especially if philosophers and theorists work closely enough with practicing teachers to try out and modify strategies according to pedagogical, as well as rational, standards.  It is, perhaps, important to note that these reconstructions  of strategies and  articulations of rules and distinctions are not likely ever to be much help to teachers who lack a relatively sophisticated  appreciation of the practices of  rational thinking, any more than a cookbook is likely to help a novice cook a complex and challenging meal. Developing competence at thinking, like developing competence at other social practices, involves, in most cases, extended experience with competent practitioners.  To this point, we have followed most of the critical thinking literature in considering the improvement of critical thinking in the context of adults teaching children, or young adults, the intellectual practices of a culture. If we consider the situation of adults trying to become more critical, a somewhat different set  Conclusions, of issues emerge. For many expert  Consequences, and Future Directions / 169  people in many  situations, there  is no teacher, no  or authority, who can be turned to for a determinate answer which will  settle an issue or complex set of issues. Many important practical decisions, such as  how to vote, where to live, what kind  of employment to seek, and so on,  are like this for any autonomous individual, by definition.  It  is part  anyone who there  of the modern  predicament, certainly part  of the predicament of  rejects foundationalist accounts of rationality  is no ultimate  Putnam  points  Putnam,  Kant  authority  or source  out that Kant celebrates  of expertise  diagnoses this  the realization  and epistemology, that  to which  situation quite  that  nothing,  we  can turn.  well. According to  not even  reason, can  determine fundamental truths of religion and morality, and that this is a good thing  (Putnam,  1987, p. 49). It is good  because  the notion  that  an}'thing  determines these ultimate truths leads to fanaticism, in the sense of intolerance or hostility towards others  who would think for themselves. The result is that,  "we all have the potential to think for ourselves with respect to the question of How  to Live"  autonomous  (p. 50). Thus,  "individuals who  Kant's  think  ideal  community  for themselves  without  is a  community of  knowing  'human essence' is, without knowing what 'Edaemonia' is, and who  what the respect one  another for doing that" (p. 51).  As  Putnam points out, the idea of rational assertability, especially in difficult and  complex  areas,  as that  which  could  be accepted  inquirers, has continued to have currency, notably in  the work  of Apel  and Habermas.  Such  by  an ideal  community of  with Peirce and more recently  communities  must  operate  under  Conclusions, Consequences, and certain  Future  sorts of rules, rules insuring that all criticisms and  Directions /  170  all hypotheses  are  heard, otherwise "the possibility of an irrational sort of 'protection of belief rears its ugly head" (p. 54).  We  must recognize, of course, that these are ideals, or to put it differently, that  claims to rationality are, on these accounts, counterfactual claims. Nonetheless,  we  have some idea about what a non-coercive  by  extrapolation We  from  the  social environment is like, if only  difference between more  and  less coercive environments.  have some idea what it is to come to a conclusion freely and  autonomously,  rather than under the influence of coercion, psychological compulsion, or ideological conditioning, even if all these terms are somewhat problematic. We  can, in some  way,  form  of free  group. We  can try  try  to  approximate  these  conditions  in  real  life,  in  discussion amongst equals, as in a study group or a support to test for ideological bias or psychological impediments by views  of  others,  practices. As and  how  we  we  especially those  who  have  significantly  the  taking seriously the different  beliefs  and  consider these possible impediments to rational decision making,  try  to  criticism, is once again  overcome  them,  the  notion  of  therapy,  or  therapeutic  appropriate.  Therapy, in this sense, is aimed at exposing contradictions and our systems of beliefs and  values, problems which may  incoherencies in  obscure our best interests  or realistic perception of the world around us. It is a matter of subjecting some of our  relatively ingrained beliefs and  take to be the best and  values  to reassessment against  what  we  most responsible of our commitments. Perhaps the best  model of such therapeutic activity is that of groups which have been subjected to  Conclusions, Consequences, and Future Directions / 171 psychological, cultural, and ideological domination, and have come to resist it. Groups such as women and ethnic minorities who have realized that they have been denied autonomy, and in ways have internalized this denial, have attempted to develop supportive communities within which new and better practices can develop. Some of these attempts may serve as exemplifications for the more general attempt to proceed with the ongoing reconstruction of rational practices.  While these remarks are sketchy, at best, they do at least point in the direction of something important. They suggest that there is a strong connection between the study of rationality and what critical theorists call the human sciences. The extent of our rationality, collectively and as individuals, is limited by our failures to treat each other with respect as equals. Becoming more rational may have more to do with empowering people and correcting perfectly obvious examples of injustice  than  with  developments  argumentation by philosophers.  in  cognitive  science  or  sophisticated  BIBLIOGRAPHY  Ayer, Alfred Jules (1985). Wittgenstein. New  Bailin,  Sharon  North  (1987).  West  and  Philosophy  Columbia, October,  Baker, G.P.  Critical  of  York: Random House.  creative Education  thinking.  Paper  conference,  presented  University  of  at the British  1987.  and Hacker, P.M.S. (1980). Wittgenstein: Meaning and Understanding.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press.  Baker, G.P.  and  Hacker, P.M.S. (1984). Language, Sense and  Nonsense. Oxford:  Basil Blackwell.  Baron,  Johnathan  (1985).  Rationality  and  Intelligence. Cambridge:  Cambridge  University Press.  Beyer, B. (1985). 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"More on Learning: a response to Brookfield" in Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education, (in press). "McClellan on Quine and Social Criticism" (with Murray Ross) in Philosophy of Education, 1989, Normal, IL: Philosophy of Education Society, (in press). "Schon, Epistemology, and Professional Practice" in Proceedings of the Canadian Association for Studies in Adult Education, Quebec, June, 1989. "Dangerous Ideas in Foucault and Wittgenstein" in James M. Giarelli (ed.:) Philosophy of Education, 1988, Normal, IL: p Philosophy of Education Society, Vol. 2, No. 1, Fall, 1988. "Schon's Gate is Square, but is it Art?" in Galen L. Ericksen and Peter P. Grimmett (eds:) Reflection in Teacher Education, New York: Teachers College Press, 1988. "Learning and Philosophy of Mind" in Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education, Vol. 11, No. 2, November, 1988. "Ideology and What? a response to Harvey Siegel" in Educational Theory, Vo. 38, No. 2, 1988. "Another Way of Talking about Critical Thinking" in Barbara and Donald Arnstine (eds:) Philosophy of Education, 1987, Normal, IL: Philosophy of Education Society, 1988. "Ethnicity and Legal Literacy" in Joachim H. Knoll (ed:) International Yearbook of Adult Education, 1986, Koln: Bohlau Verlag GmbH & Cie, 1986.  


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