Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Is Critical Thinking Domain Specific?

Critical thinking is more critical than ever because the business and world become over-complex, uncertain and ambiguous.

Critical thinking is one of the most important skills to learn for a career and life. There is evidence that organizations and managers/leaders who utilize critical thinking with an evidence-based approach to decision making do better than those that don't. The good thing for those that do is that they are in the minority, giving them a competitive advantage. Still, there are many puzzles about critical thinking, is critical thinking domain-specific, or subject independent? 
Does one always need background knowledge about a given context to refer to? Is critical thinking in management different from thinking critically in psychology? Does domain-general critical thinking mean anything more specific than asking "Who"? "What"? "When"? "Where"? and "Why" in new contexts?

Critical thinking is a state of applied intelligence: Therefore, it can be transferred to other domains, usually speaking, it is non-contextual specific. Psychology itself would be very difficult to apply and pursue if critical thinking was not a variable in the equation of its realization. Analysis of any kind would be unconscionable without the critical thinking being applied to some degree, either in evaluation or dissection or in an explanation of the diagnosis. You will have a hard time trying to envision a psychologist without using any critical thinking skills, as a determination of various diagnoses must include some form of critical thinking in their discovery.
It is even not a necessary condition to have an awareness that ‘Critical Thinking’ is occurring at any given time: As critical thinking, being a property of the mind and its existence, is no more conscionable as one’s heartbeat in most cases…you do not focus on your heartbeat while you are talking or explaining yourself and thus bring up your mental logic maps or memorized direction's to gain answers, and it is likewise with critical thinking. So most people apply critical thinking abilities without even knowing they are doing so. But none of this will give you skill in evaluating the plausibility of a premise or whether all the relevant considerations about an issue are on the table. For this, you need background knowledge on the subject matter under discussion. And often this background knowledge spills over into the knowledge of the intellectual history of the debate regarding the topic at issue, which can include the debate over the meaning of important concepts, methodological standards, pragmatic and institutional context, and so on.
The standard view in the informal logic/critical thinking academic community is that it's both: There's a domain-independent component to critical thinking and there's a domain-dependent component. So when biologists get together and debate the merits of "group selection" in evolutionary theory, if they're thinking critically then they're applying both the domain-independent elements of critical thinking and the domain-dependent elements specific to this issue. Some level of critique is needed in psychology because it deals with inexact concepts. It is mostly studied as applied science, striving towards truths about behavior. The mind is operated involuntarily, in theory, because it is part of the body. However, from a biological point of view, one could consider the effort of critical thinking as training your mind to seek reason or to reframe its approach to a conundrum in a certain way, similar to a reflex. After all, all thought is, technically, a nervous response to the world around us. Skills of examining inference provide the skills for analyzing, evaluating, and producing coherent argumentation. Thus, the core skills will include analysis of argumentation (including both explicit and implicit reasoning),

Standard education courses in formal and informal logic, probability and statistics, formal and informal fallacies, etc. are generally focused on domain-independent components: There are valuation of argumentation (including looking at/for weaknesses and strengths in reasoning, looking at analogies, raising issues of definition, and using criteria of credibility when considering evidence-claims), and the production of argumentation (developing skills in developing coherent and clear reasoning). These core skills can be applied to the domain-specific material, such that they make better students of history, geography, biology, literature, sociology, and so on.

The critical thinking domain and the subject domain are not mutually exclusive: The subject domain gives you something to think about and knowledge to understand, and the critical thinking domain provides a useful methodology. Knowing by listening to or looking at; understanding through asking the right questions, and responding to what needs to be said or done. The processes include (1) The ability to organize knowledge into understanding. (2) The right knowledge with understanding is wisdom. (3). learning, sharing, and teaching. Also, is it possible to break down analysis and evaluation further? For example, analogies may require knowledge (at the very least) about the subject of the analogies, in order to apply them. If so, could that really be considered as purely domain-general before they are applied? Context, in which an analysis is made, dictates almost everything, philosophically speaking. The context of the individual, the social dynamic, the context of checking for specific errors related to a subject, be it referencing style, and accepted convention for the structure of a study, the personal and professional characteristics of an audience.

Critical thinking is more critical than ever because the business and world become over-complex, uncertain and ambiguous. Critical thinking as the core skill is concerned ultimately with the status of claims (evidence, recommendations, predictions, principles, guesses), especially when inferences are drawn from them. It could be as natural as taking a breath; or as complex as a jigsaw puzzle with thousands of pieces, you have to apply both subject domain and thinking domain fluently in order to master it for problem-solving.


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