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Current Articles

INQUIRY: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines Vol. 29 No. 2 (Summer 2014)
ISSN 1093-1082
Table of Contents

  • Judicial System Resources: More Fun and Better Understanding in the Critical Thinking Classroom
    -Bruce Waller
  • Critical Thinking in the Intelligence Community: The Potential of Argument Mapping
    -Lawrence A. Lengbeyer
  • Circles and Analogies in Public Health Reasoning
    -Louise Cummings
  • Why We Argue: A Sketch of an Epistemic- Democratic Program
    -Scott F. Aiken and Robert B. Talisse
  • Review of Diane Halpern’s Thought and Knowledge, 5th edition
    -Benjamin Hamby


From the Editor's Desk
Frank Fair

In this issue we have a number of articles that very nicely illustrate the subtitle of this journal: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines. First, we find a reflection piece, “Judicial System Resources: More Fun and Better Understanding in the Critical Thinking Classroom” by Bruce Waller, author of one of the most widely-used and well-regarded critical thinking textbooks, Critical Thinking: Consider the Verdict. Bruce’s textbook has a strong focus on inculcating critical thinking concepts and skills through the use of legal materials, and in his reflection piece he tells us how this emphasis arose, and how valuable it is.

Next we turn to a consideration of critical thinking in the intelligence community from Larry Lengbeyer, an instructor at the US Naval Academy. When I first heard Larry present a description of his research project that involved training intelligence analysts in the use of argument mapping techniques to improve the quality of their analyses, I was greatly impressed by the promise of his project. Now with this report, you can judge for yourselves if I was right to be impressed.
Our third offering comes to us from the field of public health, and it is hard to imagine a field where improving the quality of our thinking matters more. Louise Cummings describes research on how patterns of reasoning, patterns that are usually stigmatized as fallacious, may be extremely valuable in reasoning well about matters of public health, and thus she presents a challenging re-thinking of our commonplace understanding of a pair of fallacies.

Then we have a précis by Scott Aiken and Robert Talisse of their marvelous little book, Why We Argue (And How We Should): A Guide to Political Disagreement, a book that I have recommended highly to my colleagues as a supplementary text for their critical thinking classes. The book delves into topics ranging from replies to Plato’s critique of democracy to considering themes of “Democracy and Our Cognitive Health” and “Democracy and the Responsibility of Governing Ourselves,” and the piece that we have here is aptly titled “Why We Argue: A Sketch of an Epistemic-Democratic Program.”

Finally, Ben Hamby reviews the latest edition of Diane Halpern’s Thought and Knowledge. Diane Halpern is an eminent psychologist, and, as one might expect, her book makes much greater use of psychological principles and findings than does the average critical thinking text. Ben appreciates those aspects of the book, but in the end he thinks that, while it is a book worth reading, he would not recommend its use as a textbook for a critical thinking class.

So, in this issue we have contributions relating critical thinking to law, intelligence analysis, public health, democratic politics, and psychology—across the disciplines, I’d say!


Frank Fair
Professor of Philosophy
Department of Psychology and Philosophy
Sam Houston State University
Huntsville, TX 77341-2447
Phone: 936-294-1059