Critical Thinking and/or Argumentation in Higher Education

  • Richard Andrews


Critical thinking and argumentation are closely allied. And yet each field has its own derivation and antecedents, and the differences between these are fundamental not only to debates today about their centrality in higher education, but to the entire history of the relationship (in Europe at least) between thought and language as well. On the one hand, critical thinking is most closely allied to philosophy; on the other, argumentation is allied with rhetoric. The debate about the relationship between philosophy and rhetoric goes back to Plato and Aristotle. It concerns ideas, ideals, concepts, and abstract thought and logic in relation to philosophy and the expression of these categories in verbal and other forms of language. Both critical thinking and argumentation overlap in their territories of engagement, and both have pedagogical implications for learning and teaching in higher education. This chapter explores the relationship, examines some examples at doctoral level (and briefly at undergraduate level), and puts the case for argumentation as the best focus in terms of taking forward practice in higher education. In doing so, it may run counter to the arguments in many of the chapters in this book, but the challenge presented in this chapter may act like the grit in the oyster. In Toulminian terms, the challenge can be rebutted or lead to a more qualified position on the role of critical thinking in higher education.


High Education Critical Thinking Undergraduate Level Doctoral Level Critical Thinker 
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© Martin Davies and Ronald Barnett 2015

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  • Richard Andrews

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