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Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines

Volume 29, Issue 2, Summer 2014

Bruce Waller
Pages 4-13

Judicial System Resources: More Fun and Better Understanding in the Critical Thinking Classroom

The legal system – from the jury room to the deliberations of the Supreme Court – offers an abundance of rich resources for the study and teaching of critical thinking.The courts have (often for centuries) struggled with many of the issues central to critical thinking. The courts not only provide fascinating examples and exercises for students to examine, but in many areas – the appropriate use of ad hominem arguments, the distinction between argument and testimony, the proper placing of the burden of proof, the distinction between necessary and sufficient conditions, the legitimate (and fallacious) use of appeals to authority, the nature of arguments by analogy – jurists and legal scholars have analyzed these issues carefully, and their insights are of great value to anyone concerned with rigorous critical thinking. Study of those legal resources has also had an impact on my views concerning the moral responsibility system.

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