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Thinking Your Way to Freedom

A Guide to Owning Your Own Practical Reasoning

Susan T. Gardner

Publication Year: 2009

Thinking Your Way to Freedom is a critical-thinking textbook with a difference. Rather than focusing exclusively on improving college students’ academic achievement, Susan Gardner seeks to dramatically change how students think through issues that are important in their lives beyond school. Gardner created 66 original and entertaining comic strips—featuring her dogs, Diva and Ben—that add a light touch as they encourage intellectual and personal autonomy. Through a clear step-by-step method of practical reasoning, students are taught how to think impartially and how to neutralize invisible biases that limit their freedom of thought and action. With the help of Diva and Ben, readers learn to evaluate the strengths of arguments and to recognize fallacies, all the while avoiding the paralyzing effects of relativism.

Thinking Your Way to Freedom includes the writing of short essays so that students can improve their critical thinking and writing at the same time. A Teacher’s Manual for this book will be available online.

Published by: Temple University Press

List of Comics

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

This text belongs to many extraordinary students who, with laughter and tears, courageously agonized their way through a journey toward their own freedom that was set out for them in many preliminary drafts. It was a privilege and an honor to learn with them. I am also grateful to my professorial, administrative, and staff colleagues at Cap-...

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pp. 1-6

How is it possible that even though what we do has lifelong implications for ourselves as individuals, for our loved ones, and for the communities of which we are members, so little of our formal education focuses on analyzing, let alone upgrading, our practical reasoning—the reasoning that leads to action? Why is this the case? The answer may lie in the fact that most of us assume that we humans are free in ...


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pp. 7-8

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Section 1. The Possibility of Freedom

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pp. 9-22

If educators followed all reasonable advice about what they should teach students, they could fill their students’ time with more educational hours and days than they do now, and they would still have suggestions left over. So when the question arises about what students should learn, it is important that it be couched in terms of necessary conditions. We need to ask, “What is it that is essential that students learn? What is it that, if ...

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Section 2. Impartial Thinking

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pp. 23-46

Impartiality is necessary in order to ensure that the answers that you give to the value questions with which you are confronted are your answers and not answers that have been borrowed—subliminally or otherwise—from your parents, peers, reference groups, or culture. Impartiality, in other words, requires that you learn how to eliminate your own biases. Thus, the questions that now require our attention are these: ...


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pp. 47-48

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Section 1. Learning the Intricacies of Practical Reasoning

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pp. 49-188

Intelligence can be described as the capacity to efficiently locate means that will lead to ends that are already predetermined. Wisdom, by contrast, can be defined as the capacity to choose a coherent set of ends, or values, that will lead to the creation of who it is you want to become. Treatises that focus on theoretical reasoning do so with the view to enhancing your intelligence; treatises such as this one that focus on ...

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Section 2. Thinking and Writing your Way to Truth

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pp. 189-206

Your biases are not your own. What you believe to be true may very well be a function of the massive persuasive forces to which you are constantly subjected. If you seek the dignity of becoming your own person, then you must strive to wash out bias. You can do this only by subjecting all opinions, claims, and judgments to the strongest possible opposition and then embracing the position that is least vulnerable to falsification by ...

Appendix I. Answers to Exercises

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pp. 207-232

Appendix II. Analyzing Arguments

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pp. 233-254

Appendix III. Examples of Good Arguments

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pp. 255-264

Appendix IV. What "Good" and "Poor" Thinkers Look Like

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pp. 265-266

Appendix V. Answers to Pre-tests and Post-tests

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pp. 267-268


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pp. 269-272


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pp. 273-276


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pp. 277-280

E-ISBN-13: 9781592138685
Print-ISBN-13: 9781592138678

Publication Year: 2009