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The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools

Eighth Edition - Revised and Expanded!

Richard Paul and Linda Elder

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This powerful book introduces core critical thinking concepts and principles as an empowering problem-solving framework for every profession, course of study, and indeed every area of life. The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools distills the groundbreaking work of Richard Paul and Linda Elder, targeting how to deconstruct thinking through the elements of reasoning and how to assess the quality of our thinking.

The eighth edition of this guide further details the foundations of critical thinking and how they can be applied in instruction to improve teaching and learning at all levels; it also reveals how we can learn to identify and avoid egocentric and sociocentric thought, which lead to close-mindedness, self-deception, arrogance, hypocrisy, greed, selfishness, herd mentality, prejudice, and the like.

With more than half a million copies sold, Richard Paul and Linda Elder’s bestselling book in the Thinker’s Guide Library is used in secondary and higher education courses and professional development seminars across the globe. In a world of conflicting information and clashing ideologies, this guide clears a path for advancing fairminded critical societies.

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers / The Foundation for Critical Thinking
Pages: 48 • Trim: 4½ x 6
978-1-5381-3494-8 • Paperback • September 2019
978-1-5381-3495-5 • eBook • September 2019


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The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools

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The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools

Critical Thinking 

Everyone thinks; it is our nature to do so. But much of our thinking, left to itself, is biased, distorted, partial, uninformed or down-right prejudiced. Yet the quality of our life and that of what we produce, make, or build depends precisely on the quality of our thought. Shoddy thinking is costly, both in money and in quality of life. Excellence in thought, however, must be systematically cultivated. 


Critical thinking is the art of analyzing and evaluating thinking with a view to improving it. Critical thinking is self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It requires rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem-solving abilities and a commitment to overcoming our native egocentrism and sociocentrism.


Concepts and Tools

This miniature guide focuses on of the essence of critical thinking concepts and tools distilled into pocket size. For faculty, it provides a shared concept of critical thinking. For students, it is a critical thinking supplement to any textbook for any course. Faculty can use it to design instruction, assignments, and tests in any subject. Students can use it to improve their learning in any content area. It's generic skills apply to all subjects. For example, critical thinkers are clear as to the purpose at hand and the question at issue. They question information, conclusions, and points of view. They strive to be clear, accurate, precise, and relevant. They seek to think beneath the surface, to be logical, and fair. They apply these skills to their reading and writing as well as to their speaking and listening. They apply them in history, science, math, philosophy, and the arts; in professional and personal life.

Table of Contents 

Why Critical Thinking?
Stages of Critical Thinking Development
A Substantive Approach to Critical Thinking
Critical Thinkers Routinely Apply Intellectual Standards to the
Elements of Reasoning
Three Types of Character

The Elements of Thought
Questions Using the Elements of Thought
A Checklist for Reasoning
The Figuring Mind

Universal Intellectual Standards
Some Essential Intellectual Standards for All Human Thought
Where Do Intellectual Standards Come From?

Intellectual Virtues of the Fairminded Critical Thinker
Essential Intellectual Traits
How Intellectual Virtues Are Interrelated

The Spirit of Critical Thinking
Template for Analyzing the Logic of an Article
Criteria for Evaluating Reasoning
A Template for Problem-Solving
Analyzing and Assessing Research
Three Kinds of Questions

Three Levels of Thought

The Human Mind Is Frequently Irrational While Having the Capacity for Rational Thought
Humans Often Distort Reality Through Irrational Lenses
The Problem of Egocentric Thinking
Feelings That Accompany Egocentrism
The Problem of Sociocentric Thinking
Primary Forms of Sociocentric Thought
Unethical Pursuit of Group Agendas

Envisioning Critical Societies
Twenty Barriers to Critical Societies