Reflective Judgment Stages
Thinking (Stages 1, 2, and 3)
of knowledge: Knowledge is assumed to exist absolutely and concretely;
it is not understood as an abstraction. It can be obtained with
certainty by direct observation.
Concept of justification: Beliefs need no justification since there
is assumed to be an absolute correspondence between what is believed
to be true and what is true. Alternate beliefs are not perceived.
know what I have seen."
of knowledge: Knowledge is assumed to be absolutely certain or certain
but not immediately available. Knowledge can be obtained directly
through the senses (as in direct observation) or via authority figures.
Concept of justification: Beliefs are unexamined and unjustified
or justified by their correspondence with the beliefs of an authority
figure (such as a teacher or parent). Most issues are assumed to
have a right answer, so there is little or no conflict in making
decisions about disputed issues.
it is on the news, it has to be true."
of knowledge: Knowledge is assumed to be absolutely certain or temporarily
uncertain. In areas of temporary uncertainty, only personal beliefs
can be known until absolute knowledge is obtained. In areas of absolute
certainty, knowledge is obtained from authorities.
Concept of justification: In areas in which certain answers exist,
beliefs are justified by reference to authorities' views. In areas
in which answers do not exist, beliefs are defended as personal
opinion since the link between evidence and beliefs is unclear.
there is evidence that people can give to convince everybody one
way or another, then it will be knowledge, until then, it's just
Quasi-Reflective Thinking (Stages 4 and 5)
of knowledge: Knowledge is uncertain and knowledge claims are idiosyncratic
to the individual since situational variables (such as incorrect
reporting of data, data lost over time, or disparities in access
to information) dictate that knowing always involves an element
Concept of justification: Beliefs are justified by giving reasons
and using evidence, but the arguments and choice of evidence are
idiosyncratic (for example, choosing evidence that fits an established
be more inclined to believe evolution if they had proof. It's just
like the pyramids: I don't think we'll ever know. Who are you going
to ask? No one was there."
of knowledge: Knowledge is contextual and subjective since it is
filtered through a person's perceptions and criteria for judgment.
Only interpretations of evidence, events, or issues may be known.
Concept of justification: Beliefs are justified within a particular
context by means of the rules of inquiry for that context and by
the context-specific interpretations as evidence. Specific beliefs
are assumed to be context specific or are balance against other
interpretations, which complicates (and sometimes delays) conclusions.
think differently and so they attack the problem differently. Other
theories could be as true as my own, but based on different evidence."
Reflective Thinking (Stages 6 and 7)
of knowledge: Knowledge is constructed into individual conclusions
about ill-structured problems on the basis of information from a
variety of sources. Interpretations that are based on evaluations
of evidence across contexts and on the evaluated opinions of reputable
others can be known.
Concept of justification: Beliefs are justified by comparing evidence
and opinion from different perspectives on an issue or across different
contexts and by constructing solutions that are evaluated by criteria
such as the weight of the evidence, the utility of the solution,
and the pragmatic need for action.
very difficult in this life to be sure. There are degrees of sureness.
You come to a point at which you are sure enough for a personal
stance on the issue."
of knowledge: Knowledge is the outcome of a process of reasonable
inquiry in which solutions to ill-structured problems are constructed.
The adequacy of those solutions is evaluated in terms of what is
most reasonable or probable according to the current evidence, and
it is reevaluated when relevant new evidence, perspectives, or tools
of inquiry become available.
Concept of justification: Beliefs are justified probabilistically
on the basis of a variety of interpretive considerations, such as
the weight of the evidence, the explanatory value of the interpretations,
the risk of erroneous conclusions, consequences of alternative judgments,
and the interrelationships of these factors. Conclusions are defended
as representing the most complete, plausible, or compelling understanding
of an issue on the basis of the available evidence.
can judge an argument by how well thought-out the positions are,
what kinds of reasoning and evidence are used to support it, and
how consistent the way one argues on this topic is as compared with
Source: King, P.M. & Kitchener, K.S. (1994). Developing Reflective
Judgment. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, pp. 14-16.