Even though there are various situations in which to apply critical thinking, critical thinkers in general start with identifying the problem then analyze the facts intellectually by asking questions, absorbing the questions, and stewing over the facts and information provided. They consider other interpretations, tolerate ambiguity by examining evidence, and analyze assumptions and biases. They draw their conclusions based on their fair- mindedness and demonstrate integrity and intellectual courage. Critical thinkers think in a higher level of thought processes that requires several important traits of fair-mindedness to assess a situation adequately and act based on the derived decision they make. To be fair-minded is to strive to treat every viewpoint relevant to a situation in an unbiased, unprejudiced way. It entails a consciousness of the fact that we, by nature, tend to prejudge the views of others, placing them into "favorable" (agrees with us) and "unfavorable" (disagrees with us) categories (Paul & Elder, 2001, p.
6). In order to analyze the importance of critical thinking to the decision making process, we have to look closely at these seven traits below as stated in Chapter 1 (pages 6-20) of Paul & Elders' (2001) Critical thinking: Tools for taking charge of your learning and your life.
The first two traits are intellectual humility which is to develop knowledge of the extent of one's own ignorance and intellectual courage which is facing and fairly addressing ideas, beliefs, or viewpoints by closely examining these beliefs toward which one has strong negative emotions and to which one has not been given a serious hearing. Another trait of fair-mindedness covered in Chapter 1 is intellectual empathy which is to put oneself imaginatively in the place of others on a routine basis in order to genuinely understand them.
The fourth and fifth traits seem to work...