Critical Thinking Aids Decision Making


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“Doing the right things starts with knowing the right things.” Humans
alike all strive to do the right things, yet our failure to do so is
due to our lack in judgment- our perception of reasoning. Before we
can do ‘the right thing’, we must know ‘the right thing’, which is
lead by personal experiences, feelings and numerous other factors,
which will be discussed later on. Responsible action correlates with
‘knowing the right things’ because society presumes ‘the right things’
are indeed the responsible things. In turn, responsible action is due
to one’s ability to think both critically and soundly.

The term “right” varies from person to person. It is certainly
variable in different cultures. For example, in China they limit the
number of children you can have. If you have more then the limit,
heavy taxation and other rules come into effect. Is this moral? Well,
since I live in a country where there is freedom in the number of
children you have, I think that it is not just to do so.

All of the examples I provided are from my point of view- one who
conforms to society. Usually the things that most people think are
immoral are only immoral from societal perceptions, since Society
deems things moral and immoral, and condemns people who do not follow
them. The novel The Outsider by Albert Camus, is about this.
Meursault, the protagonist, is indifferent to everything. He ends up
murdering an Arab man because he thought, “it was then that I realized
you could either shoot or not shoot.” [57- The Outsider] His comment
implies that no difference exists between the two alternatives. In the
earlier part of the novel, he states, “Mother died today. Or maybe
yesterday, I don’t know.” [59- The Outsider] This shows that Meursault
is also indifferent to his mothers’ death, which comes to haunt him in
the trial when they jury persecutes him for the mere fact of being
emotionless. Although his actions were not responsible, the jury still
persecuted him for not conforming to society.

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Perhaps this is a
problem of life. Everything is based on what previously happened- a
justification chain. It wasn’t right to commit the act of murder back
then, it isn’t right to do so now.

Responsible action depends greatly on sound, critical thinking because
if one cannot think critically, and for that matter, soundly, then one
cannot make a just decision. For example, in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s
Crime and Punishment, the protagonist, Raskolnikov is psychologically
certain of the Superman Theory, which drives him to the inevitable
murder of the pawnbroker and her daughter. He believes immensely in
the idea of “extraordinary people”, who are exempt from the moral
rules and standards that govern society. His murder of the pawnbroker
is, in part, a consequence of his belief that he is above the law and
an attempt to establish the truth of his superiority. If someone
thinks they are superior to another, they are clearly lacking in sound
thinking. A person is simply not better than another, for everyone is
good for something, but Raskolnikov believes he is. Moreover,
Raskolnikov commits the act of murder, which is clearly irresponsible.
His belief in the Superman Theory, and the idea of “extraordinary
people” lead him to kill, therefore his inability to think both
critically and soundly lead him to commit such an irresponsible
action.

Logic and reason must accompany the fallibility of personal feeling to
act responsibly. Making responsible decisions means knowing the
outcome and consequences of the decision you make. Once you can
identify the outcome of their decision, then you can make an
appropriate plan of action. Although this is a normal and almost
involuntary though process, some people fail to make the ‘right’
decision even though they know the outcome. In the novel Anna Karenina
by Leo Tolstoy, the protagonist, Anna, makes many choices that are
neither responsible nor just, even though she acknowledges the
consequences. For instance, she is involved in an affair with her
lover. She knows that bearing a child with him would entail marriage,
and that if she married him, she would lose her child with her
husband. She acknowledges this, and in the latter part of the novel
recklessly becomes pregnant. This shows that her feeling of loneliness
and desperation for affection clouds her judgment. Clearly, logic and
reason combined as areas of knowledge were not applied in this
situation. For if it was, this would not happen. Humans are not like
machines. They cannot simply think logically without emotion. Emotion
is the basis of life, and it creates obstacles for one to overcome.
There are many examples in which one acknowledges the outcome, but
still does not act soundly. In school, for example, students know
that procrastinating will have a negative outcome- cramming. Yet, it
still happens and frequently. Emotions involved in a decision can
affect the outcome.

We “do the right thing, by knowing the right thing” only because we
have had previous experiences, which provide us with knowledge on the
‘right’ things. For instance, when my nephew does something bad, in
this case when he turns the air conditioner off and on, my sister and
I get mad. We let him know this by saying “a-hoy” in a stern voice. He
doesn’t like it when we do this, and gets scared. Whenever he attempts
to turn the air conditioner off and on, we just say “a”, the starting
of the word “a-hoy” and he stops. Now he just does not try and turn it
off and on because he knows what will happen. He knows that “a-hoy”
means he has done a bad thing, therefore he only knows that it is bad
because of what happened previously. So, in order to “do the right
thing” he must know what the “right thing is” and by knowing what that
is, you must have experienced it before. Ultimately, “doing the right
thing” is subjective, as our reasoning and logic behind a choice is
dictated by our personal experiences, which are unique to one.

To do the right thing, you must have the right frame of mind. This is
difficult because this means that you have to control yourself to do
the right thing, although the wrong thing may be favourable at the
time. However, this is just another one of the many obstacles of life.
Life includes experiences in which we can use as knowledge to do the
right things. Doing the right this is also subjective in different
cultures, and can vary from person to person. Ultimately, one must
decide from right or wrong.


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