How to Think Logically / Edition 2

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Concise Principles of Reasoning

Concise, yet covering all the basics of a 15-week course in informal logic or critical reasoning, this text engages students with a lively format and clear writing style. The small scale of the book keeps the cost low, a vital consideration in today’s economy, yet without compromising on logical rigor.

The author’s presentation strikes a careful balance: it offers clear, jargon-free writing while preserving rigor. Brimming with numerous pedagogical features, this accessible text assists students with analysis, reconstruction, and evaluation of arguments and helps them become independent, analytical thinkers. Introductory students are exposed to the basic principles of reasoning while also having their appetites whetted for future courses in philosophy.

Teaching and Learning Experience

Personalize Learning - MySearchLabdelivers proven resultsin helping individual students succeed. It provides engaging experiencesthat personalize, stimulate, and measure learning for each student. And, it comes from a trusted partnerwith educational expertise and a deep commitment to helping students, instructors, and departments achieve their goals.

Improve Critical Thinking - Abundant pedagogical aids -- including exercises and study questions within each chapter -- encourage students to examine their assumptions, discern hidden values, evaluate evidence, assess their conclusions, and more!

Engage Students - Chapter and section outlines, summaries, illustrative examples, special-emphasis boxes and key terms present new ideas in manageable-sized units of information so students can digest each concept before moving on to the next one, and ensure students key-in on crucial points to remember.

Support Instructors -Teaching your course just got easier! You can create a Customized Text or use our Instructor’s Manual, or PowerPoint Presentation Slides. Plus, this concise textbook contains only as much material as you can cover in a course, creating an affordable alternative you can assign with confidence to a cost-conscious student population. Additionally, each chapter in How to Think Logically is designed as a self-contained unit so that you can choose the combination and order of chapters according to the needs of your courses; making the text a flexible base for courses in logic, critical thinking, and rhetoric.

Note: MySearchLab does not come automatically packaged with this text. To purchase MySearchLab, please visit or you can purchase a valuepack of the text + MySearchLab (VP ISBN-10: 0205234410, VP ISBN-13: 9780205234417).

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The Chapter Summay(ies) were helpful, as were the definitons. I stress mastering the definitions to the key words because these provide the materials for performing logical operations in an intentional way."

-- Andrew Waskey, Dalton State College

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780205154982
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 8/11/2011
  • Series: MyThinkingLab Series
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 456
  • Sales rank: 144,030
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

In This Section:

I. Author Bio

II. Author Letter

I. Author Bio

Gary Seay has taught formal and informal logic since 1979 at the City University of New York, where he is presently professor of philosophy at Medgar Evers College. His articles on moral philosophy and bioethics have appeared in The American Philosophical Quarterly, The Journal of Value Inquiry, The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, and The Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, among other journals. With Susana Nuccetelli, he is editor of Themes from G. E. Moore: New Essays in Epistemology and Ethics (Oxford University Press, 2007), Philosophy of Language: The Central Topics (Rowman & Littlefield, 2007), and Latin American Philosophy: An Introduction With Readings (Prentice Hall, 2004). Gary Seay may be contacted at . For more information about his work, visit

Susana Nuccetelli is professor of philosophy at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. Her essays in epistemology and philosophy of language have appeared in Analysis, The American Philosophical Quarterly, Metaphilosophy, The Philosophical Forum, Inquiry, and The Southern Journal of Philosophy, among other journals. She is editor of New Essays in Semantic Externalism and Self-Knowledge (MIT Press, 2003) and author of Latin American Thought: Philosophical Problems and Arguments (Westview Press, 2002). She is co-editor of The Blackwell Companion to Latin American Philosophy (Blackwell, 2009) and, with Gary Seay, Ethical Naturalism: Current Debates (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming, 2011). Susana Nuccetelli may be contacted at . For more information about her work, visit

II. Author Letter

Dear Colleague,

Now in a new Second Edition, How to Think Logically is a concise and user-friendly textbook for freshman-level logic and critical thinking courses. Focused throughout on arguments and how we may evaluate them, the book is intended to show students how to distinguish between arguments that ought to persuade us and those that should not. It presents students with criteria for assessing both deductive and inductive reasoning, and it does so in a clear writing style much praised by our students. "This book is well written and structured," students have told us again and again over the ten semesters since it first appeared. "It’s easy to understand."

We believe that critical thinking skills are more vital than ever as a component of a liberal education. In a world where college graduates face increasingly fierce competition for jobs, those who are careful reasoners, lucid writers, and clear-headed thinkers are simply better equipped to succeed in any area of specialization. Learning these skills, however, should not be a dry, dull process, but an exercise leavened with humor and down-to-earth examples that students can understand.

How to Think Logically accomplishes these goals with materials designed specifically for readers who have never encountered philosophy before, and for whom analytical thinking may at first be an unfamiliar exercise. In our courses at the City University of New York, at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, and at the University of Texas Pan American, we have used this book with students from a great number of different nationalities, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds. Invariably, we find that students respond well to its simple format, lively examples, and plain language.

In addition, this textbook comprises only enough material for a standard fifteen-week course (with flexibility to allow instructors options for different approaches); thus students are not paying for material they don’t use. This helps us keep costs down, a welcome feature at a time when students are struggling with soaring tuition and fees!

But at no point does How to Think Logically compromise on logical rigor. The book charts a mainstream course through discussions of natural language, meaning, truth, belief, and definition. It discusses twenty of the most common informal fallacies, explaining what is wrong with each type and how to avoid it. It also includes an expanded treatment of deductive reasoning, both in modern, propositional logic (including the rudiments of symbolic notation and natural deduction) and traditional, syllogistic logic. We believe that this is the book instructors have been looking for. It presents a broad and immensely readable approach to introductory-level logic, yet it does so concisely and at moderate cost.

We are interested in hearing from instructors who adopt our book, since we do value their suggestions for improving it. We want to know what works best in the classroom. So please do email us if you have suggestions or criticisms at and We look forward to learning about your experiences with How to Think Logically.


Gary Seay and Susana Nuccetelli

City University of New York and St. Cloud State University

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Table of Contents






Chapter One What Is Logical Thinking? And Why Should We Care?

Chapter Two Thinking Logically and Speaking One’s Mind

Chapter Three The Virtues of Belief


Chapter Four Tips for Argument Analysis

Chapter Five Evaluating Deductive Arguments

Chapter Six Analyzing Inductive Arguments


Chapter Seven Some Ways an Argument Can Fail

Chapter Eight Avoiding Ungrounded Assumptions

Chapter Nine From Unclear Language to Unclear Reasoning

Chapter Ten Avoiding Irrelevant Premises


Chapter Eleven Compound Propositions

Chapter Twelve Checking the Validity of Propositional Arguments

Chapter Thirteen Categorical Propositions and Immediate Inferences

Chapter Fourteen Categorical Syllogisms

Appendix: Summary of Informal Fallacies

Answers to Selected Exercises




Chapter One What Is Logical Thinking? And Why Should We Care?

1.1 The Study of Reasoning

1.2 Logic and Reasoning

1.3 What Arguments Are

1.4 Reconstructing Arguments

1.5 Arguments and Non-arguments

1.6 Chapter Summary

1.7 Key Words

Chapter Two Thinking Logically and Speaking One’s Mind

2.1 Rational Acceptability

2.2 Beyond Rational Acceptability

2.3 From Mind to Language

2.4 Indirect Use and Figurative Language

2.5 Definition: An Antidote to Unclear Language

2.6 Chapter Summary

2.7 Key Words

Chapter Three The Virtues of Belief

3.1 Belief, Disbelief, and Non-Belief

3.2 Beliefs’ Virtues and Vices

3.3 Accuracy and Truth

3.4 Reasonableness

3.5 Consistency

3.6 Conservatism and Revisability

3.7 Rationality vs. Irrationality

3.8 Chapter Summary

3.9 Key Words


Chapter Four Tips for Argument Analysis

4.1 A Principled Way of Reconstructing Arguments

4.2 Missing Premises

4.3 Extended Arguments

4.4 Types of Reason

4.5 Norms and Argument

4.6 Chapter Summary

4.7 Key Words

Chapter Five Evaluating Deductive Arguments

5.1 Validity

5.2 Soundness

5.3 Cogency

5.4 Chapter Summary

5.5 Key Words

Chapter Six Analyzing Inductive Arguments

6.1 Reconstructing Inductive Arguments

6.2 Some Types of Inductive Argument

6.3 Evaluating Inductive Arguments

6.4 Chapter Summary

6.5 Key Words


Chapter Seven Some Ways an Argument Can Fail

7.1 What Is a Fallacy?

7.2 Classification of Informal Fallacies

7.3 When Inductive Arguments Go Wrong

7.4 Chapter Summary

7.5 Key Words

Chapter Eight Avoiding Ungrounded Assumptions

8.1 Fallacies of Presumption

8.2 Begging the Question

8.3 Begging-the-Question-Against

8.4 Complex Question

8.5 False Alternatives

8.6 Accident

8.7 Chapter Summary

8.8 Key Words

Chapter Nine From Unclear Language to Unclear Reasoning

9.1 Unclear Language and Argument Failure

9.2 Semantic Unclarity

9.3 Vagueness

9.4 Ambiguity

9.5 Confused Predication

9.6 Chapter Summary

9.7 Key Words

Chapter Ten Avoiding Irrelevant Premises

10.1 Fallacies of Relevance

10.2 Appeal to Pity

10.3 Appeal to Force

10.4 Appeal to Emotion

10.5 Ad Hominem

10.6 Beside the Point

10.7 Straw Man

10.8 Is the Appeal to Emotion Always Fallacious?

10.9 Chapter Summary

10.10 Key Words


Chapter Eleven Compound Propositions

11.1 Argument as a Relation Between Propositions

11.2 Simple and Compound Propositions

11.3 Symbolizing Compound Propositions

11.4 Defining Connectives with Truth Tables

11.5 Truth Tables for Compound Propositions

11.6 Chapter Summary

11.7 Key Words

Chapter Twelve Checking the Validity of Propositional Arguments

12.1 Checking Validity with Truth Tables

12.2 Some Standard Argument Forms

12.3 Formal Fallacies

12.4 A Simplified Approach to Proofs of Validity

12.5 Chapter Summary

12.6 Key Words

Chapter Thirteen Categorical Propositions and Immediate Inferences

13.1 What Is a Categorical Proposition?

13.2 Venn Diagrams for Categorical Propositions

13.3 The Square of Opposition

13.4 Other Immediate Inferences

13.5 Chapter Summary

13.6 Key Words

Chapter Fourteen Categorical Syllogisms

14.1 What Is a Categorical Syllogism?

14.2 Syllogistic Argument Forms

14.3 Testing for Validity with Venn Diagrams

14.4 Distribution of Terms

14.5 Rules of Validity and Syllogistic Fallacies

14.6 Chapter Summary

14.7 Key Words

Appendix: Summary of Informal Fallacies

Answers to Selected Exercises


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