Week 4- Critical thinking, Science, and Medical Ethics

This week the session was hosted by 2 philosophy experts- in fact, I attend the classes of one of them! Although I thought that his first lecture (in the class I take) was boring, I changed my mind after attending this session. He was able to talk non-stop for nearly 2 hours while keeping the whole conversation very entertaining.

Since I am writing this blog post 5 days after the initial session, I had a chance to read some of the posts by other science scholars- and they were all great posts about Medical Ethics. So I want to talk about something else covered in the session- one about the role of a critical thinker.

I listen to Freakonomics radio, a podcast which ‘explores the hidden side of everything’, such as the cheating in the professional sumo wrestling scene, and the link between legalised abortion and reduced crime rates. I highly recommend their podcast and their books. Here is their logo- a nice, crunchy, juicy ‘apple’:

One of the topics covered in a recent-ish podcast was the topic of Homo economicuswhich is a person who:

  • Is consistently rational
  • Uses the least resources and labour to obtain an optimal end, making them as happy as possible

A person acted out the role of Homo economicus. What he did was ask people on a subway (underground train) how much he needed to pay them for them to give up their seat for him. He got mostly weird looks, tired rejections, or an absurdly high amount of money requested. If Homo economicus was in excess of money and really wanted the seat, then asking others seems like the rational thing to do to maximise his happiness.

And from the perspective of the person being asked, wouldn’t it be great if this Homo economicus person paid for their ride and all they had to do is stand? Or would it be too much of an effort?

A critical thinker is a rational person, and would a rational person do something like what Homo economicus did, or something else? I’m not sure, but I think that there are dangers to becoming a completely critical thinker, just like turning into Homo economicus.

  • Critical thinking can be practical for some decision-making processes, but may not be in others. For example, critically analysing your boss’s remarks may be treading dangerous waters.
  • Many people are not critical thinkers, and there will be a communication gap present between you and others if you follow the rules of critical thinking completely.
  • Life can be boring, because there will be no spontaneity, and every decision you make will be practical and great in the long run- but what about enjoying your life? It will be up to you to decide how much critical thinking to use, but I don’t think too little or too much is a good idea.

Thank you for reading! Sorry about the shorter post- I am getting quite stressed nowadays. I am trying different ways to increase my productivity, and it seems to me that a general rule is if I stay at home, nothing will get done.. I admire everyone who has the self-control and determination to study at home.


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