Inquiry: A New Paradigm for Critical Thinking


Mark Battersby
Capilano University
Sharon Bailin
Simon Fraser University


This volume reflects the development and theoretical foundation of a new paradigm for critical thinking based on inquiry. The field of critical thinking, as manifested in the Informal Logic movement, developed primarily as a response to the inadequacies of formalism to represent actual argumentative practice and to provide useful argumentative skills to students. Because of this, the primary focus of the field has been on informal arguments rather than formal reasoning. Yet the formalist history of the field is still evident in its emphasis, with respect to both theory and pedagogy, on the structure and evaluation of individual, de-contextualized arguments. It is our view that such a view of critical thinking is excessively narrow and limited, failing to provide an understanding of argumentation as largely a matter of comparative evaluation of a variety of contending positions and arguments with the goal of reaching a reasoned judgment on an issue. As a consequence, traditional critical thinking instruction is problematic in failing to provide the reasoning skills that students need in order to accomplish this goal. Instead, the goal of critical thinking instruction has been seen largely as a defensive one: of learning to not fall prey to invalid, inadequate, or fallacious arguments.

The cover image for this volume is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID pplot.13725. It is part of the public domain and is available here.


Author Biographies

Mark Battersby, Capilano University

Dr. Mark Battersby is Professor Emeritus, Capilano University. He has also taught critical thinking at the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and Stanford University. He was founder of the British Columbia Association for Critical Thinking Research and Instruction.  He is the author of Is That a Fact,: A Field Guide to Statistical and Scientific Information, and, along with Sharon Bailin, Reason in the Balance: An Inquiry Approach to Critical Thinking

Sharon Bailin, Simon Fraser University

Dr. Sharon Bailin is a Professor Emeritus at Simon Fraser University and a past president of the Association for Informal Logic and Critical Thinking. She has written extensively on critical thinking, argumentation, inquiry, and creativity, and has designed and directed critical thinking programs for educators.  She is the author, along with Mark Battersby, of Reason in the Balance: An Inquiry Approach to Critical Thinking.

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December 5, 2018

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