Association for informal logic and critical thinking

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Association for informal logic and critical thinking

Turner, Connecticut College Before we can enlist faculty across the disciplines to teach critical thinking, we must decide exactly what we mean by the term.

The first characteristic of an ideal critical thinker, we might say, is that he or she has excellent pattern recognition skills. The critical thinker sees that two arguments are both disjunctive syllogisms, in much the same way that most people in our culture can see, without thinking much about it, that two cars are both Toyotas.

The second characteristic that distinguishes the critical thinker is vocabulary. Imagine how awful it would be if we lacked the vocabulary that would enable us to think and converse clearly about some important part of our lives, such as our emotions.

People whose vocabularies did not include words like "anger," "envy," and "compassion" would have difficulty reflecting on their feelings and talking about their emotional states with others. But many people are in exactly this situation with regard to reasoning. It is impossible to think and converse about thinking without the help of terms such as "inductive," "deductive," and "valid," and the concepts expressed by those terms.

Third, and most important of all, becoming a rigorous and reflective thinker means adopting a certain ethical stance: Critical thinking is responsible thinking. Although the standard informal logic course is an important part of any college curriculum, all three of these elements of critical thinking—pattern recognition, vocabulary, and the ethical stance—can be taught outside of level philosophy courses.

What follows are two suggestions for using critical thinking in your own classes. Teaching critical thinking through writing assignments It is notoriously difficult to get students to revise papers in earnest, and reading their revisions can be a painful experience.

Who wants to read two papers—the first draft and a revised version—side by side, scanning the edges of the page to see what changes the student has made?

Instead of asking students to revise their papers, why not ask them to write replies to questions about their arguments?

Association for informal logic and critical thinking

Write numbers in the margins to indicate which question refers to which part of the text. Grade the papers as you ordinarily would, and then give the students another week to submit a set of replies to your questions.

Give these answers a second grade that is completely independent of the initial paper grade. Let students know that these are two separate assignments, and that they cannot improve their initial paper grades by giving good answers to your questions.

This guarantees that they will have plenty of incentive to work hard on the original paper. The two grades should be weighted equally, so as to send the message that taking responsibility for what you write is just as important as writing a good paper in the first place.

The set of replies to questions should run to about the same length as the original paper, but the length of each reply will depend on the nature of each question. When you hand the original papers back, let students know that you are looking for them to use their own judgment to determine how to reply to the questions.

They may want to concede that they made a mistake, change their minds, or even try to explain how you misinterpreted their original work.

The idea is to set up a written dialogue between you and each member of the class. Students appreciate receiving individualized questions and are eager to engage in intellectual correspondence.

This "replies to objections" assignment virtually eliminates the threat of plagiarism. Moreover, much of the work that we would otherwise put into commenting on papers is wasted, because many of the comments go undigested.

If students have trouble putting a logical argument together, you can ask them to define technical terms, to explain which of several possible claims is the one they really want to defend, and so on.We are pleased to release this digital edition of Ralph Johnson’s The Rise of Informal Logic as Volume 2 in the series Windsor Studies in Argumentation.

This edition is a reprint of the previous Vale Press edition with some minor corrections.


The Informal Logic Newsletter they conceived and edited (now the journal Informal Logic) successfully established informal logic as a field for discussion, development and research. Forty years later, the result is an established body of literature and a standard (but evolving) set of topics, problems, and issues.

Curriculum theory and organization of schooling and further education has long been associated with the idea of a curriculum. But what actually is curriculum, and how might it . Dartmouth Writing Program support materials - including development of argument.

Fundamentals of Critical Reading and Effective Writing. Mind Mirror Projects: A Tool for Integrating Critical Thinking into the English Language Classroom (), by Tully, in English Teaching Forum, State Department, Number 1 Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum Project, Metropolitan Community College.

Argumentum Consensus Gentium. See Appeal to Traditional Wisdom.. Availability Heuristic. We have an unfortunate instinct to base an important decision on an easily recalled, dramatic example, even though we know the example is atypical.

Association for Informal Logic and Critical Thinking (AILACT) is a scholarly organization founded in , whose purpose is to promote the study of informal logic and critical thinking. The organization sponsors programs in conjunction with the American Philosophical Founded:

Non-formal learning: mapping the conceptual terrain. A consultation report.