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About the lecture

Critical Thinking is the cornerstone ‘21st century skill’, enshrined in the educational goals at every level of schooling and university, a defining feature of the so-called knowledge economies of the future, and crucial to the ideals of deliberative democracy and public reason. Too often though, critical thinking is conceived of on the model of a technical skill, or as consisting in a set of “reason-recognising procedures” – procedures for identifying argumentative structures and assessing inferential connections – that have little bearing on the questions ‘What should I believe?’ or ‘How should I act?’ This talk presents a more robust conception of Critical Thinking, one embodying a range of epistemic values and virtues of reasonableness, including the disposition to recognise and own the burden of proof when it is appropriate to do so and the importance of being accountable in one’s reasoning to others. What we have learned from the Critical Thinking Project is that these values, virtues and dispositions require a certain kind of educational environment in which to thrive, one focused on the development of student thinking. Professor Brown will discuss the nature and outcomes of this project and its successes, particularly in creating cultures of high expectation among disadvantaged students and in empowering them to exercise their voice and authority in the space of reasons.

About the presenter

Deborah Brown is Professor of Philosophy at The University of Queensland and Director of The University of Queensland Critical Thinking Project. She is the author of Descartes and the Passionate Mind with Cambridge University Press, co-author of Descartes and the Ontology of Everyday Life with Oxford University Press, and has written numerous articles on a variety of philosophical themes. The Critical Thinking Project provides professional development for teachers and the corporate sector, and supports disadvantaged students to achieve academically in school and at university.


Sir Llew Edwards Building (#14)
The University of Queensland
St Lucia Campus