Brief listings of dispositions and abilities of the ideal critical thinker

Given this definition, the ideal critical thinker can be characterized in somewhat more detail by the following proposed interdependent and somewhatoverlapping sets of twelve dispositions and eighteen abilities that constitute a streamlined conception. I have modified the organization and wording of critical thinking dispositions and abilities over the years in the direction of theoretical refinement and precision (1980; 1987; 1991; 1996a; 2011; 2013b); and Norris and Ennis (1989), but the basic ideas have not changed.

Critical thinking dispositions

Ideal critical thinkers are disposed to

  • 1. seek and offer clear statements of the thesis or question,
  • 2. seek and offer clear reasons,
  • 3. try to be well informed,
  • 4. use credible sources and observations, and usually mention them,
  • 5. take into account the total situation,
  • 6. keep in mind the basic concern in the context,
  • 7. be alert for alternatives,
  • 8. be open-minded

a. seriously consider other points of view,

b. withhold judgment when the evidence and reasons are insufficient,

  • 9. take a position and change a position when the evidence and reasons are sufficient,
  • 10. seek as much precision as the situation requires,
  • 11. try to "get it right" to the extent possible or feasible, and
  • 12. employ their critical thinking abilities.
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