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Chapter 12 Overview

Critical Thinking

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Chapter 12 Overview Although critical thinking can apply to nearly any discussion on any subject, some matters call for the especially self-conscious and especially focused application of the skills and methods found in this book. Those tend to be matters concerning essentially unclear or essentially disputable ideas. Of course a disagreement in biology or history can take years to settle too; and you can debate the best way to sole a shoe, scramble eggs, or tile a floor, with plenty of opportunities for vagueness and miscommunication. But those disputes, however heated or protracted they get, don't have the air of impossibility that surround conversations about moral, legal, or aesthetic issues. Chapter 12 will therefore tackle the arguments that most often arise around such issues, covering essential vocabulary and the general positions proper to each domain. The section on moral reasoning defines moral value judgments and identifies the role of facts in moral arguments. Several frameworks show the varieties of justification we can make for a given view, or the varieties of criticism we can use against it. In our treatment of legal reasoning, we first set it apart from moral reasoning, then examine philosophical attempts to justify laws, and practical attempts to clarify and apply those same laws. Discussions of art raise a different assortment of issues. For one thing, reasonable arguments aim at showing something about art as much as they aim at persuading. For another thing, aesthetic arguments take more diverse forms than moral and legal ones; those forms need to be differentiated from one another, so that we know when one argument is relevant to another. Ideally you will think of this chapter not only as the conclusion to a course in critical thinking but also as the beginning of what comes next—what happens after the course is over. The specific examples treated in Chapter 12 call on the skills covered in Chapters 1 through 12. The individual skills are already in place; what's left is seeing which to use where. 1. Moral decisions tend to be both important and difficult. a. Moral issues arise when we wonder what we should do, what someone else should do, or whether a situation is right or fair. Examples include: i. "Should I call for an ambulance about that man asleep on the sidewalk?" ii. "Should my boss criticize us in front of each other?" iii. "Is it appropriate to let adult bookstores operate in any commercial area they choose?"
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b. Moral reasoning includes arguments for the claim that a person should do something. It amounts to all reasoning of morally relevant matters. i. You may consider what possibilities for action are open to the person: "I can call for the ambulance, but the nearest phone takes me two blocks out of my way; or I can do nothing and hope that someone else calls." ii. You may weigh the consequences of one action rather than another: "Criticizing us in front of each other makes us all more eager to work well; but it also spoils the mood of the workplace." iii.
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Chapter 12 Overview - C hapter 12 Overview Although...

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