Introducing Logic and Critical Thinking

The Skills of Reasoning and the Virtues of Inquiry


4. Internal Virtues

Exercise 4.1

A. Applying the Imperatives of Love

For each of the following scenarios, explain why the character or characters involved do or do not succeed in following the four imperatives of loving intellectual excellence. For each scenario, discuss at least one of the imperatives.

  1. Frank realizes that there are news stories from both sides of every issue, so he decides to believe something first and then support it with a news article that agrees with his belief. This is, he thinks, a lot easier than reading news articles first and then trying to discover which is telling the truth.
  2. Clara is trying to decide whether to take introductory French or environmental ethics in the spring. The French class would be an easy A for her; she studied French all four years in high school and would barely have to study in order to ace the class. Environmental ethics, on the other hand, would be very challenging, and she isn’t interested in understanding what moral obligations we have to the environment. She opts for the French class.
  3. Martino notices a headline stating that a new study shows that vaccine usage is linked with increased suicide rates in teens. Knowing vaccine safety is controversial topic that lends itself towards sensationalism, he decides to confirm that the article is not fake news before sharing the article with his friends.
  4. Chaska realizes that her belief that we have free will seems to be inconsistent with her belief that the universe is a closed system governed by the laws of nature. It seems that at least one of those beliefs is false, and she recognizes that the question of which is false makes a difference for how she ought to live. Instead of dismissing the inconsistency, she studies issues that will help her discover which (if either) of those beliefs is correct.
  5. Zachary needs to read an analyst report before meeting with investors tomorrow. The report is long, and he takes a break after each page to check Facebook. He is unable to finish the report in time and is forced to skim a significant portion of the report.

B. Identifying Virtue and Vice

In each of the scenarios below, identify whether the inquirer displays the virtue of loving intellectual excellence or exemplifies one of its contrary vices. Defend your answer by citing relevant material from the text of section 4.1.

  1. Nadia’s frequently asks her professors questions like, “Will this be on the test?” and “How many questions like this practice problem will be on the test?” She asks these kinds of questions especially often about topics or exercises that are challenging to her or that she doesn’t enjoy; she doesn’t want to learn any more than she has to in order to pass the tests.
  2. Jayden is curious about whether she got a raise comparable to that of her colleagues, so she hacks into her company’s payroll data to find out.
  3. At the end of each of his shifts, Paul is supposed to report what he earned in cash tips so that he can be properly taxed. At the end of a long day, counting money is the last thing he wants to do, so he usually just reports that he did not receive any tips.
  4. Petra is hiring a new employee. One of the applicants seems to be perfect for the job, but Petra researches the applicant’s age, even though for the job in question, age is irrelevant.
  5. Sergio is in charge of coordinating a trip for his friends to a nearby city for a concert. His group of friends plans to take the train to and from the city, but Sergio fails to confirm that the train runs late enough to take them home after the concert.

Exercise 4.2

A. Identifying Intellectual Courage and Caution

For each of the following examples, make a case for why the character or characters do or do not display intellectual courage or intellectual caution. Cite relevant material from the text in section 4.2 in defense of your view.

  1. Avalon, after receiving a new position in marketing, realizes that the company is positioning their main products in the wrong way. Presenting the information will result in drastic changes to the company’s advertising and sales structure, and the executives won’t like it. Avalon is afraid of being ridiculed—after all, her ideas can’t be proven correct unless they’re implemented. Avalon instead suggests small changes that will be better received by company executives.
  2. An accountant for a major bank realizes that his own division has too many employees, and, in fact, if the bank completed a successful audit, his own position would probably be eliminated. He fudges the results of the audit to keep his position intact.
  3. In a small class discussion group, one of the group members seems to steer the discussion into questions about the personal life of another group member. He seems to be trying to discover whether she has another romantic interest, and the group can never engage the question the discussion group was formed to answer.
  4. A student is about to write a report on the human body, but she can’t figure out whether hair is part of the human body. She thinks: it is not living tissue, but it is attached to our bodies and is the result of bodily growth. She gathers a dozen philosophical texts on whether hair is considered part of the body before she begins her report.
  5. Sadie is about to go to sleep. As she is about to fall asleep, she wonders whether she locked the front door. She remembers doing it, but she wonders whether her memory is mistaken. Or perhaps the door became unlocked on its own. She gets up to check. After she checks, on her way back to bed, she wonders whether she didn’t see the lock correctly. She checks again.
  6. Dr. Kimble is doing groundbreaking work in cancer research and is about to apply for a National Institute for Health (NIH) grant. She is notified, however, that with an NIH grant, she will not receive fame—the work will be attributed to others—and there will be significant attempts from the medical community to suppress the results of her research and discredit her, because her results will reduce medical revenues as the result of oncology care. Dr. Kimble decides to redirect her research.
  7. A company employee, Bernard, discovers that managers for his company are offering promotions to other employees in exchange for sexual favors. He reports this to a human resources officer. The officer tells Bernard that if he pursues this, he will lose his job, and the company won’t do anything about the issue. Bernard decides to tell a journalist.
  8. After an eight-year investigation, an investigator is about to obtain documents revealing the names of those involved in a massive drug ring in the city. He receives a message that says his family will be killed if he obtains the documents. He is not deterred.
  9. Janice is offered an interview for JP Morgan Chase, a bank. She feels like she can’t go into an interview with a bank without knowing how to define “bank.” After all, is PayPal a bank? She reads a couple internet definitions of “bank” and reads court proceedings to try to figure out the answer.
  10. Max is offered a position for a tech startup. He is asked to name his preferred salary. He decides to see what typical salary ranges are first. He Googles the name of his startup along with the word “salary.” The first page of the Google search does not reveal any helpful results. He gives up on the search.

Exercise 4.3

A. Identifying Introspective Vigilance

For each of the following examples, make a case for why the character or characters do or do not display introspective vigilance. Cite relevant material from the text in section 4.3 in defense of your view.

  1. Someone sees two of her colleagues spend a lot of time together. One is a married man and the other is a married woman, but they’re not married to each other. They joke affectionately, and she once saw the man put his arm around the woman. She concludes that they’re having an affair.
  2. A college student who has been taught young-earth creationism in his church attends a university class in which his professor teaches that evolution is true. The student gathers together as many young-earth creationist books as he can to prepare an argument against his professor.
  3. Alina works in public relations for a large tech company. She is about to write a statement defending her company against recent allegations of employee mistreatment. She realizes, however, that her role in the company will make her prone to trying to justify actions that are morally wrong. She stops to imagine herself outside of her role of the company to imagine what she would think, and she asks some friends what they think about the employee treatment before writing the statement.
  4. A couple spends their free nights watching a cable news station. In conversation, they slander other news stations for presenting fake news, since it clearly conflicts with what is presented on their preferred station. The couple has never consulted, nor will they consider, alternative news sources, as long as those sources conflict with what is reported on the first cable news station.
  5. A student who used to show up to her morning class in a sorority shirt stops showing up to class. The professor assumes she has given into excessive drinking and is not showing up to class because she has a hangover. He does not consider that she may have had another reason for not coming to class.
  6. In a conflict with his roommate, who asserts that marriage should be permitted between any consenting adults, Eduardo replies, “If we allow marriage between two men or two women, what else should we allow? Marriage between a person and their pet? Should we allow a person to marry himself? We should if we let two men or two women marry each other!”
  7. The director of marketing for a manufacturing company relies on hunches to figure out which companies to target. A new MBA hire notices that the company’s revenues and sales are declining. She points this out to the director of marketing, and she suggests they discuss his marketing plan. He replies, “I don’t need a marketing plan. I haven’t gotten where I am for nothing.”
  8. A medical research company makes repeated efforts to reproduce its results through several triple-blind clinical trials using different trial administrators each time. When they cannot reproduce results, they do not publish their initial findings, even if the findings would have favorable funding results for the company.
  9. A recent law school grad lands a lucrative position in a law firm. He remembers his professor warning him that when he begins making over $400/hour, he’ll likely overwork, because he’ll see each fifteen minutes of nonwork as having an opportunity cost of at least $100, and it will be difficult to stop seeing things this way. The lawyer thinks to himself: I won’t do that, though. I’m not like those people. I’ll maintain a good work-life balance. It’s probably better not even to think about it.
  10. The CEO of a new startup has been working on tweaking a contract with a large, international client that would result in a fourfold increase in revenue for the startup. The CEO has a beneficial conversation with the client’s acquisitions department over a video conference. As he ends the conversation, another member of the startup notifies the CEO that the client has notified her that they have backed out of the contract due to an unexpected and new product strategy. The CEO thinks the client has deceived him and that his video conference is the real reason the client backed out of the contract. He wonders whether he should have worn a different suit or worded things differently.