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Module 1: What is Critical Thinking? flashcards |

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  • Stereotype

    A fixed or oversimplified conception of person, group, or idea.

    Critical Thinking Dimension 1

    Analyzing one's own thinking -- breaking it down into its component parts.

    Critical Thinking Dimension 2

    Evaluating one's own critical thinking -- identifying its weaknesses while recognizing its strengths.

    Critical Thinking Dimension 3

    Improving one's own thinking -- reconstructing it to make it better.

    The Critical Thinking Dimensions

    Analyzing, evaluating, and improving one's own critical thinking.

    The Critical Thinking Approach

    Not something you add onto everything else, but rather, the way you approach everything you do.


    The tendency to view everything in relationship to oneself and to regard one's own opinions, values, or interests as important.


    The assumption that one's own social group is inherently superior to all others.

    First-Order Thinking

    Ordinary thinking (Paul and Elder term).

    Second-Order Thinking

    Another term for critical thinking. It is ordinary thinking that is consciously realized (i.e., analyzed, assessed, and improved) (Paul and Elder term).

    Weak-Sense Critical Thinking

    Thinking that does not consider counter viewpoints, that lacks fair-mindedness, and that uses critical thinking skills simply to defend current beliefs.

    Strong-Sense Critical Thinking

    Thinking that uses critical thinking skills to evaluate all beliefs, especially one's own, and that pursues what is intellectually fair and just.

    Higher-Order Thinking

    Thinking which is deep and highly insightful.


    The commitment to consider all relevant opinions equally without regard to one's own sentiments or selfish interests.

    Intellectual Unfairness

    Feeling no responsibility to represent disagreeing viewpoints with fairness or accuracy, always sees itself as just and right, and often involves self-deception.

    Intellectual Humility

    Commitment to discovering the extent of one's own ignorance, that one does not and cannot know everything, awareness of one's biases and prejudices and viewpoint limitations, recognition that one should only claim what one actually knows, and awareness that egocentrism is often self-deceiving. The opposite of intellectual arrogance.

    Intellectual Arrogance

    Overestimation of one's own knowledge and no insight into self-deception or the limitations of one's viewpoint. The opposite of intellectual humility.

    Intellectual Courage

    Confronting ideas, viewpoints, or beliefs with fairness, examining fairly beliefs which one has strong negative feelings and toward which one has previously been dismissive, and challenging popular belief. The opposite of intellectual cowardice.

    Intellectual Cowardice

    Fear of ideas that do not conform to one's own, dismisses ideas, beliefs, or viewpoints perceived as dangerous, and threatened ideas conflicting with one's own self-identity. The opposite of intellectual courage.

    Intellectual Empathy

    Inhabiting the perspectives of others in order to genuinely understand them. Requires the ability to reconstruct other's viewpoints and reasoning, reason from ideas not one's own, concede when one is wrong despite strong conviction of being right, and imagine being similarly mistaken in a current situation. The opposite of intellectual self-centeredness.

    Intellectual Self-Centeredness

    Thinking centered on one's self that deters understanding of others' thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Does not permit consideration of problems or issues from another viewpoint. The opposite of intellectual empathy.

    Intellectual Integrity

    Holding oneself to the same rigorous intellectual standard that one expects others to meet, admitting flaws in one's own thinking, and identifying weaknesses in one's own thinking. The opposite of intellectual dishonesty.

    Intellectual Dishonesty

    Marked by contradictions and inconsistencies of which one is unconscious, hiding one's own hypocrisy, and regarding oneself as fair even when expecting others to follow much more rigorous standards. The opposite of intellectual integrity.

    Intellectual Perserverance

    Working one's way through intellectual complexities despite frustrations inherent in doing so, reasoning through issues carefully and methodically, and following rational principles instead of initial impressions and simplistic answers. The opposite of intellectual laziness.

    Intellectual Laziness

    Giving up quickly when confronted with a tough intellectual challenge and reflecting low tolerance for mental struggle or frustration. The opposite of intellectual perseverance.

    Confidence in Reason

    Proceeds from the belief that both the individual's and society's higher interests are best served by unfettered reason and encourages one to arrive at their own conclusions through their own powers of rational thinking. The opposite of Intellectual distrust of reason.

    Intellectual Distrust of Reason

    Lack of confidence in reason. Inclines one to assert the truth through one's own beliefs regardless of flaws. The opposite of confidence in reason.

    Intellectual Autonomy

    Thinking of oneself without adhering to the standards of rationality. Reasoning through issues on one's own rather than uncritically accepting others' viewpoints, relying on one's own reasoning when deciding what to or what not to believe, and accepting other's views only so far as they are reasonable in light of the evidence. The opposite of intellectual conformity.

    Intellectual Conformity

    Intellectual dependence. Generally perpetuated by the status quo while providing scant incentive for true intellectual autonomy. The opposite of intellectual autonomy.

    Tactics for Improving Critical Thinking

    Use wasted time, handle one problem per day, internalize intellectual standards, keep an intellectual journal, practice intellectual strategies, reshape your character, redefine the way you see things, get in touch with your emotions, and analyze group influences on your life.

    The Functions of the Mind

    Thinking, feeling, and wanting.


    Creates meaning, sorts events in our lives into categories, finds patterns in the world around us, and informs us what is going on.


    Monitors the meanings created by thinking, evaluates the degree to which life's events are either positive or negative given the meaning we assign to them, and continually informs us how we should respond emotionally to what is happening in our lives.


    Allocates energy into action and does so consistent with how we define what is desirable and possible. Continually tells us what is or is not worth seeking or getting.


    The ability to win an argument regardless of flaws in its reasoning.


    Flaws or errors in reasoning which, when found in the premise of an argument, invalidate its conclusion.

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