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Critical thinking: A Socratic model


A concept of critical thinking is developed based on the Socratic method and called accordingly a Socratic model. First the features of critical thinking stressed in this model are stated and illustrated. The Socratic method is presented and interpreted, then taken to yield a model of critical thinking. The process of internalization by which the Socratic model helps us to become critical thinkers is described. Argument analysis is considered as a widely used instructional strategy adaptable for teaching critical thinking on the Socratic model. This Socratic model is advanced as one helpful way of organizing our ideas about critical thinking, helpful in unifying disparate factors and anchoring them in the humanist tradition.

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An earlier version of this article was presented as a paper at the October 1988 Conference on Critical Thinking at Montclair State College. Matthew Lipman, William Murnion, and several others made valuable comments. John Anton also provided helpful comments on a subsequent draft. Generous grants from the Funds for Excellence of the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia and Christopher Newport College enabled me to complete this research clarifying the concept of critical thinking for the project Faculty and Curriculum Development in Critical Thinking. The typescript benefited from searching critiques by George Teschner and the journal's anonymous referee. I am very grateful for this help.

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Hoaglund, J. Critical thinking: A Socratic model. Argumentation 7, 291–311 (1993).

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Key words

  • Argument
  • argument analysis
  • critical thinking
  • Socratic method