Volume 27, 2011
Poverty, Justice, and Markets
Matthew R. Silliman, David Kenneth Johnson
Critical Thinking, Autonomy, and Social Justice
In a fictional conversation designed to appeal to both working teachers and social philosophers, three educators take up the question of whether critical thinking itself can, or should, be taught independently of an explicit consideration of issues related to social justice. One, a thoughtful but somewhat traditional Enlightenment rationalist, sees critical thinking as a neutral set of skills and dispositions, essentially unrelated to the conclusions of morality, problems of social organization, or the content of any particular academic discipline. A second interlocutor, steeped in “critical” pedagogy of Paulo Freire, insists that the problem is the pose of neutrality itself. On this view, all honest and effective approaches to teaching must confront the hegemony of unjust relationships, institutions, and conceptual schemes. The third character attempts to resolve the tension between these two opposed camps.