12 Brookfield, above n 10, 14. Inthe legal context, critical thinking hasbothimmanent and extrinsicqualities.Thatis,itcanbepursuedbothwithintheteaching oflegaldoctrineandfromapositionofexternalevaluation. An immanent analysis recognises that the accuracy and validity of the assumptions in law is inherent in critical analysis of legal reasoning itself.Acommoninquiryhereiswhetherweacceptthatthereisan underlying corpus juris of legal principle waiting to be uncovered through the legal techniques, or whether morality, politics and personalchoiceplaysalargerpartinlegalreasoning.13Animmanent approach to evaluating assumptions in law requires understanding theorthodoxyoflegalreasoningandanalysis,andalsobeingable to assess the validity of the assumptions on which it is based and understanding different methods of legal interpretation — including legal determinacy. It may also involve instruction in legal critique, the practical workings of the law and advocacy for law reform.14
Asecondstrategyforunpackingassumptionsisachievedthrough introducing a range of extrinsic perspectives on the law and legal processes.Thereisthefundamentalcritiqueoflawinjurisprudence and political theory: What is the nature of law and the source of its authority? What is law’s function? Who is the law for? The function oflawdictatesthefunctionoflawyers,andfeedsintoacriticallegal ethicsperspective. Thereisthinkingaboutlawasasocial,cultural, economic,historical,andpoliticalphenomenon. Theseperspectives onthelawrequireanintroductiontocorecritiquesoflawasasocial and political phenomenon, such as feminist critiques, legal realism andcriticallegalstudies,criticalracetheory,andpostmoderntheories oflaw.Thereisthinkingaboutlawinsociety—asamechanism for justice through democracy and human rights, or as a means of oppression, through protecting vested interests and entrenching classprivilege.Alltheseperspectivesassistindevelopingtheability toanalyse andcritique substantive rulesandlegal processes,and engaging in processes of law reform and policy formation.
Manylegaleducatorshaveadoptedtheidealsofcriticalthinking andthemethodsdescribedinthissection.Further,criticalthinkingis formally recognised in the description of skill competences in most lawdegrees15andisemployedexplicitlyasaskillrequirementinthe
13 This debateis representedmost visibly in the exchangebetween Ronald Dworkin and advocates of Critical Legal Studies. Compare for example, Ronald Dworkin, Law’sEmpire(HarvardUniversityPress,1986)225−75andDuncanKennedy, A Critique of Adjudication [fin de siecle] (Harvard University Press, 1997)
14 Notethatadvocacyforlawreformisnotitselfcriticalthinking,butcanbean example of critical thinking if it employs the capacities described in this section.