29.6.10

Towards Ethical Reasoning and Fairminded Thinking ...

The development of ethical reasoning abilities is vitally important-both for living an ethical life and creating an ethical world. By teaching critical thinking without ethics one runs the risk of inadvertently fostering sophistic rather than fairminded critical thinking. In fact, a person often commonly becomes skilled in critical thinking without developing the understandings requisite to living an ethical life. The proper role of ethical reasoning is to highlight acts of two kinds: those that enhance the well-being of others—which warrant praise—and those that harm or diminish the well-being of others—and thus warrant criticism.
Thus it is important for individuals to develop ethical sensitivities and reasoning. Developing one's ethical reasoning abilities is crucial because
there is in human nature a strong tendency toward egotism, prejudice,
self-justification, and self-deception. It is essential that a person learns to use shared ethical concepts and principles as guides in reasoning through common ethical issues. Developing ethical sensitivities requires cultivating the mind to go beyond innate selfishness to consideration of the rights and needs of others. One needs to understand ethical reasoning; cultivate ethical capacities; and integrate ethical understandings with critical thinking skills, abilities, and traits. One must be proficient in assessing reasoning for its clarity, accuracy, relevance, depth, breadth, and logicalness. One must be intellectually humble, intellectually perseverant, and intellectually empathic.