Critical Thinking and Informal Logic: Neuropsychological Perspectives

Paul Thagard


This article challenges the common view that improvements in critical thinking are best pursued by investigations in informal logic. From the perspective of research in psychology and neuroscience, hu-man inference is a process that is multimodal, parallel, and often emo-tional, which makes it unlike the linguistic, serial, and narrowly cog-nitive structure of arguments. At-tempts to improve inferential prac-tice need to consider psychological error tendencies, which are patterns of thinking that are natural for peo-ple but frequently lead to mistakes in judgment. This article discusses two important but neglected error ten-dencies: motivated inference and fear-driven inference.


Argument, critical thinking, emotion, fear-driven inference, inference, logic, motivated inference, neuroscience, psychology

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ISSN: 0824-2577