Friday, March 12, 2010

Mature Thinking

I was reading a great paper (academic, so I won't bore you with the details) that discussed how we mature in our thinking through three stages.

We start out as an absolutist. Thinks are black and white, right or wrong, good or bad, true or false.

Then we become multiplist, which is more nuanced. We realize that it is OK for different people to have different opinions. I can like Coke and you can like Pepsi. We can both be right.

Finally, we become evaluationist, which is even more nuanced. I can have one opinion and you can have another opinion. And while they are both valid, one is normatively better than the other. I support one political party and you can support another political party. Both positions are valid, but one party really might have better policies than the other.

The paper goes on to describe the epistemology of the theory and use an example from jury deliberations to describe the impact. People at the absolutist stage come to opinions about innocence or guilt and then are either/or. The more mature thinkers are able to look at variations (i.e. manslaughter) and intervening circumstances. They are more likely to use specifics of the verdict definitions and specific pieces of evidence in their arguments.

The more mature thinkers are also more likely to take charge of the deliberation, use more meta-arguments (describing why they think what they do), and are more likely to convince the others.