Good Reasons for Better Arguments: An Introduction to the Skills and Values of Critical Thinking / Edition 1

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This text introduces university students to the philosophical ethos of critical thinking, as well as to the essential skills required to practice it. The authors believe that Critical Thinking should engage students with issues of broader philosophical interest while they develop their skills in reasoning and argumentation. The text is informed throughout by philosophical theory concerning argument and communication—from Aristotle's recognition of the importance of evaluating argument in terms of its purpose to Habermas's developing of the concept of communicative rationality. The authors' treatment of the topic is also sensitive to the importance of language and of situation in shaping arguments, and to the necessity in argument of some interplay between reason and emotion. Unlike many other texts in this area, then, Good Reasons for Better Arguments helps to explain both why argument is important and how the social role of argument plays an important part in determining what counts as a good argument.
If this text is distinctive in the extent to which it deals with the theory and the values of critical thinking, it is also noteworthy for the thorough grounding it provides in the skills of deductive and inductive reasoning; the authors present the reader with useful tools for the interpretation, evaluation and construction of arguments. A particular feature is the inclusion of a wide range of exercises, rich with examples that illuminate the practice of argument for the student. Many of the exercises are self testing, with answers provided at the back of the text; others are appropriate for in-class discussion and assignments.
Challenging yet accessible, Good Reasons for Better Arguments brings a fresh perspective to an essential subject.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781551110592
  • Publisher: Broadview Press
  • Publication date: 9/19/1996
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 408
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Jerome E. Bickenbach and Jacqueline M. Davies both teach in the Department of Philosophy at Queen's University. Previous publications include Professor Bickenbach's Canadian Cases in the Philosophy of Law (Broadview, 3/e 1998).

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Table of Contents

1. Critical Thinking: What and Why
What’s in a Name?
Critical Thinking and the Search for Good Reasons
Who’s to Say What a Good Reason Is?
Good Reasons, Better Arguments and Rationality
Rational Discourse: Giving Reasons
Communicatively Rational Speech Acts, or Good Reasons for Better Arguments
Communicative Norms: Expectations and Obligations
Transparent Persuasion: The Goal of Better Arguments
A Brief Overview of this Book
2. Arguments
Critical Thinking Skills, Phase 1: Argument Structure and Construction
The Argument: Form and Function
Arguments and Non-arguments
Arguments and Opinions
Arguments, Explanations and Definitions
Units of Meaning
Standard Form for Simple Arguments
Enthymemes and the Principle of Charity
Standard Form for Complex Arguments
Expressing Yourself in Argument Form
3. Language
Language as Context
Definitions: Explaining Meaning
Definitions: Arguing Meaning
Paradigm Case/Counter-example
Understanding Conditionals and the Relationship of Implication
Language and the Gap between Intention and Communication
Euphemism and Hyperbole
Jargon and Obfuscation
Disempowering Language
Linguistic Considerations in the Construction of Your Own Arguments
4. Good Arguments
Phase 2: Evaluating Arguments
Arguments, Arguers and Conclusions: Where to Start Your Evaluation
Facts, Values and Opinions: Are They All Open to Evaluation?
The Normativity of Argument Evaluation
What Are Good Enough Arguments Good Enough For?
General Criteria of Argument Evaluation
Cogency: The Overall Judgement
A Few More Words on Expressing Yourself in Argument Form
5. Bad Arguments
Fallacy-Spotting and Building a Better Argument
Dubious Premises
Premises that Mean Too Much, or Not Enough
Premises Bearing Illicitly Imported Assumptions
Irrelevant Attacks on the Source of Opinion
Illegitimate Manipulation of Emotion
Changing the Subject
Improper Appeals to Authority
Hasty Conclusions and Suppressed Evidence
Building a Better Argument
6. Deduction
Three Modes of Argumentation
Aspects of Deductive Reasoning
Categorical Logic
Venn Diagrams
Immediate Inferences
Fallacies of Distribution and Other Violations of the Rules for Syllogisms
Propositional Logic
The Strengths and Weaknesses of Deduction
7. Induction
Induction and Reasoning from Observation
Enumerative Induction
Representative Sampling and Justified Confidence in Induction
Reasoning about Causation
Types of Causes
Inductive Justification and Scientific Methods
8. Practical Reasoning
The Scope of Practical Reasoning
Intersubjectivity, Open-endedness and Criterial Reasoning
Conductive Reasoning
Reasoning from Analogy
Communicative Rationality: The Sufficiency Criterion in Practical Reasoning
Answers to Selected Exercises
Appendix A: Procedure for Standardizing Complex Arguments
Appendix B: Procedure for Expressing Yourself in Argument Form

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