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What role does critical thinking play in decision making?

What role does critical thinking play in decision making? Please compose a detailed response on the role that critical thinking plays when making important decisions. Please use external references.

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Critical Thinking & Decision Making

"Critical thinking is best understood as the ability of thinkers to take charge of their own thinking. This requires that they develop sound criteria and standards for analyzing and assessing their own thinking and routinely use those criteria and standards to improve its quality."

- Elder, L. and Paul, R., 1994.

Critical thinking, as Elder & Paul connotes above, is an essential tool for thinkers, especially in the academia. To know one's mind and to set rules to follow to make the best possible decision or choice given a problem and to be able to arrive at it via a sound methodology is essentially what it refers to as a whole though there are various processes, methods & theories one could use dependent heavily upon the nature of the question itself. Philosophy usually refers to the act of Critical Thinking as the use of Informal Logic, when logical concepts are applied to everyday reasoning and problem solving; unlike in formal logic studies where the focus is on the precise symbolic representation of concepts, their abstract relationships and their systemization. Thinking critically can become a reflexive action. Once it is mastered, I believe that it informs the behaviour ...

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The solution is a comprehensive 761-word essay explaining the role of critical thinking in decision making. References are listed (web & print) for expansion. A word version of the solution is attached for easy printing.