Critical Thinking: Assessing Truth Claims

I found this chapter particularly insightful, especially the general comments in §6.3 about what kind of defense is required in accepting statements and beliefs: “In some contexts there are statements that are a matter of common knowledge and for which it is quite unnecessary to require a defense. . . [But,] the idea of common knowledge is a relative term that depends upon the shared assumptions of a community or group.” (¶6). If you are making religious statements to your own religious community, there may be so many shared assumptions that little to no evidence is demanded (likewise with a homogenous political community). The shared assumptions of an academiccommunity, though, should be very minimal — the belief in freedom of speech, freedom of inquiry, and the belief in there being universal criteria for good reasoning. Beyond that (and for the sake of institutional disconfirmation) students and faculty should embrace opportunities to inquire into and question a variety of statements. For this discussion, please mention a non-empirical belief that you endorse in your personal life (it’s up to you what you would like to share with your classmates). Suggest some evidence for your belief that would be acceptable to the different communities to which you belong (I’m not asking for strict proof) — you can mention your family unit, your religious or political community, etc. At the very least, make sure to include the very diverse community of SFSU students to which you belong: can you provide evidence that would be acceptable most of your fellow SFSU students? It’s OK if you can’t! Admitting this is just as important for the cultivation of intellectual humility and also to fuel your continued inquiry into something important to you… For your REPLY to your classmates’ answers to this question, you can politely mention whether the evidence they provide is acceptable to you and why (here, refer to §6.6-7)


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