Essay on the Relationship between Critical Thinking and Ethics

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This paper will examine what critical thinking is and how it can be applied in academic settings as well as in criminology. Critical thinking is being reasonable and informed to make decisions as an individual (Friedman, 2019). When an individual applies critical thinking the individual should also strive to be ethical as well. Ethical thinking is how an individual reacts in a situation involving an ethical dilemma (Friedman, 2019). Both provide individuals with the skills to problem solve and identify situations where something could be done differently for a better result.

Applying critical and ethical thinking

Critical thinking is the unbiased insight into a situation, adding reliable evidence to the decision. Critical thinking involves “a set of information and belief generating and processing skills” and “the habit, based on intellectual commitment, of using those skills to guide behavior” (Defining, n.d.). It has also been defined as a way of thinking where an individual applies information the individual has learned and experienced to form opinions and decisions with insight on that subject matter (Defining, n.d.). Critical thinking involves looking at situations from a place of knowledge and experience with that particular subject as well as an understanding of how to process information into reasonable decisions. Robert Ennis describes critical thinking as coming to reasonable conclusions on beliefs or actions based on a reflective style of thinking where a critical thinker is “open-minded, well-informed, has reasonable judgment on sources, questioning, the quality of an argument, and can develop conclusions to problems, questions or beliefs” (Ennis, 2010; Friedman, 2019).

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Ethical thinking

Ethical thinking gives reason behind some decisions made with critical thinking. Ethical thinking involves applying the belief in morals and basing decisions using critical and ethical reasoning. Individuals add an additional question to a situation by asking if the decision is morally right (Friedman, 2019).


Methods to apply critical thinking to a situation are to approach the situation with an open mind, be willing to listen to other opinions and approaches and be careful in their decision and judgment of the situation. By researching the topic and approaching the situation with background on the topic at hand as well as an understanding of the situation and the different solutions and possible outcomes.


An individual may approach the reasoning of “Police officers in the United Kingdom do not usually carry firearms. Therefore, US police officers should not either.” An individual starts by researching the statistics behind whether there is an effect on the community or crime rate from officers in the United Kingdom not carrying firearms and also research arguments for officers carrying firearms to create an unbiased opinion from the perspective of an impartial judge. It would be beneficial to research how ethical it is to disarm officers, but civilians can still obtain firearms illegally as an argument against disarming officers in the United States. An individual should base their decisions on reliable data collected along with a reasonable understanding of both sides and a solution or answer to whether the United States should reason with the United Kingdom and disarm their officers. Debating on outcomes to the United States’ police officers not carrying firearms potentially could reduce crime with a deadly weapon, but more than disarming officers would need to be considered. The individual would also have to consider the idea of banning all firearms like the Australian government did and also look into a country with looser gun control laws than the United States. Then the individual should base their decision on all the data and reasoning that were collected that helped the individual conclude that solution.


Individuals with critical thinking skills are “open-minded, inquisitive, fair-minded, and careful when making a judgment, honest in facing their own biases and willing to reconsider their views” (Facione, 2015; Friedman, 2019). It is important to consider the application of critical and ethical thinking in all aspects of an individual’s career and life by being organized, flexible, open to change, creative, and understanding approaching problems and situations by deliberating from all points of view and deciding what the best solution is for all parties at hand. This concept can be applied to whether marijuana should be legalized in all 50 states, should high school be in session year-round, and how to stop the circulation of K-2 (Spice) in the correctional system. This situation will involve individuals who are reasonable and reliable to suggest solutions to problems and situations like the ones mentioned above.


    1. Friedman, Hershey H., Linda W. Friedman, Martin R. Frankel, and Taiwo Amoo (2019). Enhancing critical and ethical thinking with scenarios. Psychosociological Issues in Human Resource Management, 7(1): 7–29. doi:10.22381/PIHRM7120191
    2. Defining critical thinking. (n.d.). The Foundation for Critical Thinking. Retrieved from
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