Inquiry: A New Paradigm for Critical Thinking
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.
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