@ the APA

Organizers of AILACT Sessions at APA Divisional Meetings

  • APA Eastern
    Jeff Buechner [email] 2018-
  • APA Central
    Frank Fair [email] 2017-2019
  • APA Pacific
    Peter Tan [email] 2017-2019

Eastern Division  

The 2019 Eastern Division group session will be a round-table discussion (perhaps 6 speakers) of the following topic:

There are two important tasks in critically assessing arguments: (i) to provide a diagram or map of the inferential structure of the argument and (ii) to determine how well the premises of the argument support its conclusion. Many texts in critical thinking provide little guidance for (ii), other than to taxonomize arguments into deductive, inductive, and fallacious. This material is certainly important and useful, but it does not provide a general method for determining the support of any argument (of any kind). Of course, there are arguments that there cannot be an inductive logic—and so there cannot be any means of formalizing the criteria for good inductive reasoning. It is not clear, though, that these arguments would rule out an informal method for assessing inductive support. The question, then, is twofold: (i) what method do you use in determining how well the premises of an argument support its conclusion, and (ii) how do you teach this method in a course in critical thinking?

Each speaker will talk for approximately 20 minutes, after which questions from the audience will be addressed.

Please submit proposals for talks on this topic to Jeffrey Buechner, at buechner@newark.rutgers.edu.


Central Division

Report on the Central Division AILACT Meeting, February 23, 2018, Chicago, IL

The topic of the meeting was “Critical Thinking and Recent Psychological Findings” and the session was chaired by David Wright (Sam Houston State University).

The meeting featured the following speakers and titles:

  • Maralee Harrell (Carnegie Mellon University), “Incorporating Psychology and Data Science into Critical Thinking”
  • Jeffrey Maynes (St. Lawrence University), “Critical Reasoning, Cognitive Bias, and Ecological Rationality”
  • Haavard Koppang (BI–Norwegian Business School), “Critical Thinking and Groups: Group
    Argumentation Norms Are Relevant to Argument Evaluation”
  • Jack Lyons (University of Arkansas) and Barry Ward (University of Arkansas), “Dual System Psychology and An Empirically Informed Introduction to Critical Thinking”

A common theme from the presentations and discussions was the importance of connecting empirical findings in the domains of judgment and decision-making to critical thinking research and pedagogy. While each presenter had a different focus relevant to these concerns (e.g. Jeffrey Maynes highlighted the importance of developing an empirically informed conception of intellectual virtues in teaching reasoning classes, and Haavard Koppang explored the intricate dynamics of reasoning in groups), all showed different ways in which critical thinking instructors and researchers can have a nuanced and critical engagement with these areas of research. Maralee Harrell discussed how she makes thoughtful use in her classes of Cathy O’Neil’s recent book Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy in order to discuss how data science is relevant to students’ daily lives. In the final session, Jack Lyons and Barry Ward demonstrated how they use variations on tests like the Wason selection task to introduce students to the ways in which context informs our  decisionmaking processes. Each session’s question and answer period included references to recent books and articles on these and related topics, including work from Thomas Gilovich, Hugo Mercier, Dan Sperber, Gerd Gigerenzer, Philip Tetlock and others.


Pacific Division

AILACT presentations went very well with our panel (which was minus Darin because of a family emergency). The issue of Critical Thinking in the age of Fake News was  particularly timely and enlivened the panel discussion and audience comments as well.

Planning for next year’s session is well underway; details will be available in August. For
information, please contact Peter Tan, at ptan@msmu.edu.