Socratic Questioning


People who think critically, consistently attempt to live rationally, reasonably, and empathically. They are keenly aware of the inherently flawed nature of human thinking when left unchecked. So they strive to diminish the power of their egocentric and socio-centric tendencies.

They use the intellectual tools that critical thinking offers which enable them to analyze, assess, and improve thinking.  Critical thinkers realize that no matter how skilled they are as thinkers, they can always improve their reasoning abilities.

It is, therefore, unsurprising that critical thinkers make use of critical thinking process of Socratic questioning.  The overall purpose of Socratic questioning is to challenge accuracy and completeness of thinking in a way that acts to move people towards their ultimate goal.

Socratic questioning involves six types of questions. They are:

  1. Questions for clarification:
  • Why do you say that?
  • How does this relate to our discussion?
  • Can you give me an example?
  1. Questions that probe assumptions:
  • What could we assume instead?
  • How can you verify or disapprove that assumption?
  • What would happen if…?
  1. Questions that probe reasons and evidence:
  • What would be an example?
  • What do you think causes this and why?
  • Do you think ‘that’ is responsible for ‘this’?
  1. Questions about viewpoints and perspectives:
  • What would be an alternative?
  • Why is…… the best?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses?
  • Why do you think your team member disagrees?
  1. Questions that probe implications and consequences:
  • Then what would happen?
  • What are the consequences of that assumption?
  • What are you implying?
  • How does…affect…?
  1. Questions about the question:
  • What was the point of asking this question?
  • Why do you think I asked this question?
  • What does…mean?

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