Critical Thinking, A Deflated Defense: A Critical Study of John E. McPeck's Teaching Critical Thinking: Dialogue and Dialectic

Jonathan E. Adler


A critical study of McPeck's recent book, in which he strengthens and develops his arguments against teaching critical thinking (CT). Accepting McPeck's basic claim that there is no unitary skill of reasoning or thinking, I argue that his strictures on CT courses or programs do not follow. I set out what I consider the proper justification that programs in CT have to meet, and argue both that McPeck demands much more than is required, and also that it is plausible that this deflated justification can be met. Specitically, I argue that it is reasonable to expect transfer of learning for basic logical skills. Additional topics covered include: the relation ofliberal education to critical thinking, argument analysis, testing for CT, and the value of conceptual or linguistic analysis.


Critical thinking (CT), liberal education, transfer (transferability, transfer of learning), argument analysis, informal logic

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ISSN: 0824-2577