REASON TO BELIEVE. THE PROSPECTS AND LIMITATIONS OF CRITICAL THINKING AS AN EDUCATIONAL IDEAL ACTA UNIVERSITATIS OULUENSIS E Scientiae Rerum Socialium 221
The notion of critical thinking means the intellectual skills and propensities required to actively
carry out reflective and evidence-based belief-formation, decision-making and judgment. This
doctoral dissertation comprises of three studies with their self-contained lines of argumentation.
Article I, The Conflicting Ideals of Democracy and Critical Thinking in Citizenship Education,
assesses the dormant tensions between the two educational goals of critical thinking and
democracy, arguing that we should prioritize the former in the cases where they pull in opposite
directions. Article II, De-Idealising the Educational Ideal of Critical Thinking, argues that the
philosophical accounts of an ideal critical thinker are excessively idealized in the light of current
empirical research on human cognition. I then ruminate on what this might mean for our
theoretical understanding and the pedagogical applications of critical thinking. Article III, From
Critical Thinking to Criticality and Back Again, reviews in critical spirit certain recent proposals,
which attempt to overcome the weaknesses of the two research programs of critical thinking and
critical pedagogy in the form of a new and improved educational objective called criticality.
Keywords: citizenship education, critical thinking, democracy, philosophy of education