Critical Thinking in Moral Argumentation Contexts: A Virtue Ethical Approach

Michelle Ciurria

Abstract


In traditional analytic philosophy, critical thinking is defined along Cartesian lines as rational and linear reasoning preclusive of intuitions, emotions and lived experience. According to Michael Gilbert, this view – which he calls the Natural Light Theory (NLT) – fails because it arbitrarily excludes standard feminist forms of argumentation and neglects the essentially social nature of argumentation. In this paper, I argue that while Gilbert’s criticism is correct for argumentation in general, NLT fails in a distinctive and particularly problematic manner in moral argumentation contexts. This is because NLT calls for disputants to adopt an impartial attitude, which overlooks the fact that moral disputants qua moral agents are necessarily partial to their own values and interests. Adopting the impartial perspective would therefore alienate them from their values and interests, causing a kind of “moral schizophrenia.” Finally, I urge a re-valuation of epistemic virtue in argumentation.

Keywords


critical thinking; argumentation; epistemic virtue; virtue ethics

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22329/il.v32i2.3298

ISSN: 0824-2577