Critical thinking as dispositions (the “skills-plus-dispositions" view)

It has long been recognized that the ability to think critically is different from the attitude or disposition to do so (Ennis 1985; Facione 1990), and this too needs to be considered in any attempt to define critical thinking. Dispositions have been described as "at least half the battle of good thinking, and arguably more" (Perkins, Jay, and Tishman 1992, 9).

Dispositions are sometimes defined as a "cast or habit of the mind" or "frame of mind" that is necessary for exercising critical thinking. Dispositions are not arguments or judgments, but affective states. They include critical thinking attitudes and a sense of psychological readiness of the human being to be critical. They are equivalent to what Passmore once called a "critical spirit" (1967, 25) and have been defined as a constellation of attitudes, intellectual virtues, and habits of mind (Facione et al. 1995). Correspondingly, we may distinguish between critical thinking in a "weak" sense and in a "strong" sense (Paul 1993). The former consists of the skills and dispositions already discussed; the latter consists of the examined life in which skills and dispositions have been incorporated as part of one's deep-seated personality and moral sense—in short, one's character.

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