Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Critical Thinking: Intellectual Standards Essential to Reasoning Well within Every Domain of Human Thought, Part 4

Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Critical Thinking: Intellectual Standards Essential to Reasoning Well within Every Domain of Human Thought, Part 4

Article excerpt

In the last few columns we introduced the idea of intellectual standards, offering an analysis of the term as an explicit concept (entailing many other concepts) to be employed in teaching and learning, and in human societies more broadly. We focused on these essential intellectual standards: clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, logic, significance, and fairness, exemplifying and explaining each one in brief. We argued that intellectual standards are necessary for cultivating the intellect and living a rational life. In this column we illuminate the importance of understanding intellectual standards as existing in conceptual constellations, or webs, each having distinguishable core meanings; they are best understood in relationship with one another, ultimately as a system of interrelated and integrated concepts. We present some of the essential intellectual standards in constellations to illustrate this understanding visually (see Figure 1).

Intellectual Standard Words Form Systems of Interrelated Meanings

Intellectual standards are best understood as a network of ideas that interconnect in various ways, sometimes overlap, and often vary along a continuum (serving a range of purposes). They assist making reasonable judgments and assess reasoning in ways that make most sense. Intellectual standard terms can be specific or general in nature. They may entail other intellectual standard terms. They may have limited or broad use.

In this section we exemplify some of the ways in which intellectual standard words form what we term "constellations." We focus on some of the most important and powerful intellectual standards in the English language. Realize that the examples are just that, a small set of cases from the vast array of intellectual standards in natural languages or, in other words, everyday spoken language. We focus on standards that, if used regularly, will significantly improve the quality of human judgments and decisions. We present these standards in groupings with what might be considered the paradigm concept in the middle and related and similar concepts around that central concept. Each constellation contains a range of nuanced meanings within a central concept. …

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