Willingness to Inquire: The Cardinal Critical Thinking Virtue

  • Benjamin Hamby


Every craft has its set of tools, which the expert craftsperson uses adeptly in her creative efforts. Critical thinking is a craft no different than others in this respect: through guided practice and refinement, the expert craftsperson of reasoned judgment has developed a set of cognitive tools she uses in her reflective endeavors. But how are the skills of a critical thinker connected to the character of such a craftsperson? I argue that the critical thinker’s skills are suggestive of the person she must be to properly employ them. These critical thinking virtues are the motivations, dispositions, and values that animate her skilled thinking, and this willingness to think critically is what drives any appropriately applied skill. Rather than interpretive charity, open-mindedness, valuing nonfallacious reasoning, or any of the other virtues that connect to skills, I conclude that willingness to think critically is the most fundamental critical thinking virtue.


Critical Thinking Critical Inquiry Internal Motivation Critical Thinking Skill Defense Attorney 
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© Martin Davies and Ronald Barnett 2015

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  • Benjamin Hamby

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