In this paper we discuss the relevance of considering context for critical thinking. We argue that critical thinking is best viewed in terms of ‘critical inquiry’ in which argumentation is seen as a way of arriving at reasoned judgments on complex issues. This is a dialectical process involving the comparative weighing of a variety of contending positions and arguments. Using the model which we have developed for teaching critical thinking as critical inquiry, we demonstrate the role played by the following aspects of context: (1) knowledge of the dialectical context (the debate around an issue, both current and historical); (2) an understanding of the current state of practice and belief surrounding an issue; (3) an understanding of the intellectual, political, historical and social contexts in which an issue is embedded; (4) knowledge of the relevant disciplinary context; (5) information about the sources of an argument; (6) awareness of one’s own beliefs and biases.
KeywordsCritical thinking Inquiry Context Reasoned judgments Dialectical
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