What is Critical Inquiry? By Brad Fenn

A road map to understanding critical inquiry.

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What is Critical Inquiry? By Brad Fenn by Mind Map: What is Critical Inquiry?  By Brad Fenn

1. Criteria specify the relevant considerations that provide the basis for making a judgment.

1.1. E.g. When discussing whether or not the film John Wick 3 is better than Life of Pets 2, acceptable criteria may be: - box office profit - viewer/critic review - production quality - acting - etc.

2. My Own Interpretation

2.1. Critical inquiry is the process of addressing a problem, concern, or question in a way that is fair, evaluative and logical. Relying on sound evidence, any and all parties involved should be open-minded and unbiased towards any and all proof that may apply to the relative aspects of the problem. Subjects should be narrow, as should their judgments. When one question or problem arises from another, it is important to evaluate the relation and maintain focus, solving preliminary issues in order to form a consensus on the primary issue.

3. Conception from The Foundation for Critical Thinking

3.1. Critical thinking (inquiry) is that mode of thinking, about any subject, content, or problem, in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully analyzing, assessing, and reconstructing it. Critical thinking is self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem-solving abilities, as well as a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism.

4. Definition from LearnAlberta.ca

4.1. The critical thinking components of the online resources for each grade level are organized around several Overarching Critical Inquiries (OCIs). The purpose of each OCI is to cluster the teaching of many specific outcomes under a central idea. Each OCI includes a sampling of Critical Challenge activities that may be undertaken in pursuing the inquiry. The term "critical" indicates that the inquiries focus on large questions or issues that require critical judgement. The OCIs described for each grade level are intended merely to suggest the possibilities and to provide considerations for instructional planning.

5. Definition Web

5.1. Inquiry

5.1.1. Inquiry is the process of carefully examining an issue, problem, or subject in order to come to a reasoned judgement. Inquiry may also be described as any process aimed to augment knowledge, solve a problem, or resolve doubt. Ideally, good inquiry is free of unwarranted speculation, and uses neutral evidence to support claims.

5.2. Guidelines for Inquiry (Guiding Questions)

5.2.1. What is the issue? Become clear as to what exactly is the issue proposed. Narrow discussion/thought to single issue and maintain awareness as to the relationships between criteria.

5.2.2. What kinds of claims or judgments are at issue? More complex inquiries may involve both factual and evaluative judgments, whether they be in question or review.Analyze the issue to examine for stated or variable claims.

5.2.3. What are the relevant reasons and arguments on various sides of the issue? What/who is involved or affected by the issue, and what sort of implications may it have to related topics. It is important to consider many perspectives for a neutral and reasoned inquiry.

5.2.4. What is the context of the issue? Examine current state of practice, and other reasons the issue is up for debate.

5.2.5. How do we comparatively evaluate the various reasons and arguments to reach a reasoned judgment? Consider all evidence regarding the issue both for and against, outweigh pros/cons and determine a judgement that represents a variety of parties involved that relies on evidence and proof.

5.3. An Issue

5.3.1. An issue is a challenge, controversy, or difference of view which can be the focus for inquiry. In other words, it is a matter which is unsettled, in dispute, or up for debate. E.g. Should lethbridge add fluoride to the city water supply?

5.4. A Reasoned Judgment

5.4.1. A reasoned judgment is a judgment based on critical evaluation of relevant information and arguments. E.g. Lethbridge should not add fluoride to the city water as it has been shown to increase the potential for dental fluorosis in developing teeth, and almost 20% of lethbridge citizens are younger than 14.

5.4.2. Guidelines for Reaching a Reasoned Judgment 1. Ensure that the relevant arguments, objections, and responses have been identified. 2. Evaluate the individual arguments. 3. Establish, if possible, which view bears the burden of proof. 4. Assess the possibilities in light of alternatives. 5. Consider differences in how the issues and arguments are framed. 6. Recognize points that may be valid in various views 7. Incorporate the strengths of different views into the judgment. 8. Weigh and balance different views into the judgement. 9. Consider whether your personal convictions and experiences are colouring your judgment.

5.5. Key Characteristics of an issue:

5.5.1. Focus The focus of an issue must not be too broad, for it runs the risk of superficiality. It is important to limit the scope of the issue by focusing on a particular aspect or aspects which are of relevance and interest.

5.5.2. Phrased as a question An issue must be distinguish from a topic. Topics may be considered general statements, where as if the issue is in the form of a question, we can identify what is trying to be solved/discussed.

5.5.3. Precision In order to give rise to productive inquiry, it is important that the issue be framed in a precise, and explicit fashion. All parties in the discussion must be clear on exactly what is being claimed or questioned.

5.5.4. Controversy A good inquiry question cannot be on an issue which is generally known or agreed upon. The issue must be a 'live' question, meaning it is still largely up for debate, and there has yet to be a satisfactory settlement on said issue.

5.5.5. Neutrality An issue must remain neutral in its proposal, as not to ensue any type of bias, assumption or preliminary conclusions within the issue question.

5.6. Criteria

5.7. Sound Argument

5.7.1. A sound argument is a valid deductive argument with true premises. E.g. All multiples of ten are multiples of five. Thirty is a multiple of ten so therefore it is also a multiple of five.

5.8. Valid Deductive Argument

5.8.1. An argument form is valid when, if true statements are substituted into the premises, the conclusion must be true. E.g. Anyone who works at subway can make great sandwiches at home. Garry works at subway so he must makes great sandwiches at home.

5.9. Inductive Argument

5.9.1. In inductive arguments, the premises provide support for but do not entail the conclusion. E.g. Most subway employees make great sandwiches at home. Jerry works at subway, so it's likely that he makes great sandwiches at home.

5.10. Analogical Argument

5.10.1. Precedent Analogies An argument which attempts to establish conclusion on the basis that the circumstances of the case at issue are like those of another case which has an accepted conclusion (the precedent). E.g. Sandra was docked vacation from work for leaving early. Marcus left early, so he too should be docked vacation time.

5.10.2. Casual Analogies An argument which suggests that because two phenomena (or entities) share relevant qualities, the casual properties of one will be like the casual properties of the other. E.g. Since flavoured tobacco is illegal in Canada because of it's appeal to underaged citizens, flavored E-cigarette liquid should be illegal too.

5.11. Ideological Fixity

5.11.1. Ideological Fixity is an unwavering and unquestioning commitment to a political, social, or philosophical position. E.g. Anti-Vaxxers are often so engulfed in their beliefs, that they refuse to acknowledge any scientific evidence proving that they do not cause harm.

5.12. Groupthink

5.12.1. Groupthink occurs when pressure for group consensus results in members of the group failing to express or critically examine alternative viewpoints. E.g. The Student Union Committee votes must be unanimous. When an initiative is proposed, many of the members for for, and only a few are reluctant. The result is the remaining few feel pressured to vote for the initiative to comply with the mass.

5.13. Confirmation Bias

5.13.1. Confirmation bias is the tendency to seek and focus on information and evidence that will confirm our views and fail to seek information which might counter those views. E.g. Persons believing in extrasensory perception (ESP) will keep close track of instances when they were 'thinking about Mom, and then the phone rang and it was her!' Yet they ignore the far more numerous times when (a) they were thinking about Mom and she didn't call and (b) they weren't thinking about Mom and she did call.

5.14. Loaded Language

5.14.1. Language may be considered 'loaded' when words are replaced/substituted with words that are similar in meaning but accompany a connotation which may imply a different value of associations and emotional loadings. E.g. Global News Headline - 'Planned Parenthood building clinic in Alabama despite abortion law' - Planned Parenthood offers many services other than abortion. This article implies the law is being broken/ignored.

5.15. Factual Judgment

5.15.1. Factual judgements (or judgments of facts) focus on describing or explaining some aspect of the way the world is. Descriptive Judgements E.g. The earth is round Explanatory Judgments E.g. Earthquakes are caused by moving tectonic plates.

5.16. Evaluative Judgment

5.16.1. Evaluative judgments express an evaluation or assessment of an object, action, or phenomenon. Ethical Judgment: Fairness, Justice, Equity, Virtue, Rights E.g. Paying men more than women for the same job is unfair and wrong. Instrumental Judgment: Practicality, Cost-Benefit, Efficiency E.g. Nuclear energy is the most efficient and clean energy available. Aesthetic Judgment: Design, Beauty, Appeal E.g. John Wick 3 is a more visual stunning film than Life of Pets 2.

5.17. Interpretive Judgment

5.17.1. Interpretive judgements deal with questions of meaning. Criteria concerns correspondence with the data or evidence, inclusiveness, and coherence. E.g. Helen was especially quiet in class today, likely because she didn't sleep well based on the bags under her eyes.