Critical Thinking, Philosophical Theories of Testimony, and the Challenge of Wikipedia Knowledge Claims Open Access
- Other title
- Type of item
- Degree grantor
University of Alberta
- Author or creator
Howe, Ernest A.
- Supervisor and department
Brigandt, Ingo (Philosophy)
- Examining committee member and department
Schrader, Alvin (Library and Information Studies)
Kachur, Jerrold (Educational Policy Studies)
Waddington, David (Concordia University)
Wilson, Robert (Philosophy)
Department of Educational Policy Studies
Theoretical, Cultural and International Studies in Education
- Date accepted
- Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
- Degree level
Providing students with the necessary critical thinking skills to scrutinize knowledge claims is generally recognized as an important educational goal. Many critical thinking textbooks utilize a criteria-based practice of critical thinking whereby a number of criteria are set out for the evaluation of knowledge claims. These critical thinking criteria yield inconclusive results when applied to knowledge claims from Internet sources like Wikipedia. If criteria-based critical thinking practices are to be successfully applied to Wikipedia these criteria either need to be applied in different ways than what the textbooks suggest, or supplemented or replaced by different criteria. These textbooks do not provide a theoretical basis for the selection and application of these criteria, and it is asked if the philosophy of education provides a theory of critical thinking that can provide this guidance. The most well-developed account of critical thinking theory in the philosophy of education is Siegel’s epistemology of critical thinking. Siegel’s account provides theoretical grounding for the project of critical thinking itself, but this theoretical grounding does not provide guidance at the practical level of criteria development and selection. There is thus a gap in the literature of the philosophy of education between theoretical grounding for the critical thinking project itself and theoretical grounding for the criteria that are proposed in the context of this project. In order to fill this gap, attention is turned to the epistemological literature outside of the philosophy of education. The question of testimony, which involves the acceptance of a statement on the basis of another's say-so, has been a central issue in the recent philosophical literature on epistemology. This literature is examined to determine if and how philosophical theories of testimony can be applied to the identified gap in the philosophy of education literature. The result is the development of a testimony-based theory of critical thinking that provides theoretical grounding for the selection and application of critical thinking criteria that in turn address the acceptance of knowledge claims from sources such as Wikipedia.
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