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The Nature of Knowledge: Schommer-Aikens & Hutter

Review the Schommer-Aikens & Hutter article ("Epistemological beliefs and thinking about everyday controversial issues").

Provide a philosophical analysis of the article:
- Identify the philosophical assumptions underlying the research and methodology.
- Explain the practical significance of the assumptions and their effect on the research's applicability.

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General Overview
The Schommer-Aikens article is very thought-provoking. The author has identified six specific thinking processes that are assessed in her research. These are: 1) taking multiple perspectives 2) acknowledging the complexity of issues 3) engaging in flexible thinking 4) acknowledging the evolving nature of knowledge 5) questioning omniscient authority and 6) making decisions in a thoughtful and reflective manner. (Schommer-Aikens, p.3)

The author used two questions and the participants' responses to the questions to evaluate them in the six specific thinking processes. The questions that were used dealt with communication between men and women and the issue of abortion. (Schommer-Aikens, p.1) The author used the Schommer Epistemological Questionnaire (Schommer, 1990)to assess four beliefs. These beliefs concern; "the stability of knowledge (ranging from knowledge is certain to knowledge is tentative), the structure of knowledge (ranging from knowledge is organized as isolated facts to knowledge is organized as integrated conceptions), the control of learning (ranging from the ability to learn is genetically determined to the ability to learn is enhanced through education and experience), and the speed of learning (ranging from learning is quick or not-at-all to the speed of learning is gradual)." (Schommer-Aikens, p.2)

One hundred and seventy four people from Wichita, KS participated in this research study. One hundred and twenty women and fifty four men participated. Sixty seven participants had a high school or vocational education, sixty five had completed a college education and forty two had a postgraduate education. The participants were between seventeen and seventy one years old with a mean age of 38. (Schommer-Aikens, p.4)

There were three primary results from this survey. First of all, "the less adults believed in simple knowledge, the more likely they were to take on multiple perspectives, acknowledge the complexity of controversial issues, be flexible, and take time to ponder controversial issues." (Schommer-Aikens, p.7) Secondly, "the less participants believed in certain knowledge, the more likely they were to suggest that absolute answers would be difficult to obtain because too many factors ...

Solution Summary

This is a review of an article written by M. Schommer-Aikens regarding the nature of knowledge. Issues such as critical thinking, flexible thinking, different perspectives and questioning are discussed. Over 1450 words of original text as well as the original article are included.