ISBN-10:
0130281638
ISBN-13:
9780130281630
Pub. Date:
08/29/2000
Publisher:
Prentice Hall
Thinking Socratically: Critical Thinking about Everyday Issues / Edition 2

Thinking Socratically: Critical Thinking about Everyday Issues / Edition 2

by Sharon Schwarze, Harvey Lape

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780130281630
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Publication date: 08/29/2000
Edition description: REV
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.02(w) x 8.92(h) x 0.73(d)

Read an Excerpt

Preface to the Second Edition

We had three purposes in mind when we wrote Thinking Socratically. The first was to help our students, and all college students, become better thinkers—which for us means to engage, like Socrates, willingly and patiently in open rational dialogue. Since most students who take a course in critical thinking are first or second year college students, they are often still at what the cognitive psychologists call black/white thinking. That is, they only see two sides to an argument, theirs, which they assume correct, and the other person's whom they assume to be wrong. We wanted to help them become open to the myriad other possibilities that exist between the two poles of an argument and to learn to engage in dialogue with others and themselves in ways that will help them find these other possibilities. When they finish this text, we hope they will have the ability and the "courage" that Jane Smiley speaks of in the last reading.

Second, we want our student readers to learn that critical thinking is not an esoteric discipline but an important everyday skill like using a computer or driving a car. It helps to get you where you want to go. Hence, we have tried to use everyday examples from stories, newspapers, magazines, even philosophy, to show them these skills in action. Critical thinking cannot be taught without something to think critically about! Yet some textbooks try to do precisely that. We do not. We give them commonplace contexts that exemplify the skill or the need for the skill we are teaching. We think that the skills will be learned more easily and will be remembered when they can be seen in context.

Finally, we seek to overcome the cynicism that many pseudosophisticated college students bring to the classroom. This is the cynicism that stems from the relatively little knowledge they have acquired, which has taught them, they think, that nothing can be proven correct or right. Therefore, they think, people can believe whatever they want to. No one can be proven wrong. We seek to overcome such cynicism with the pragmatic view that, even if no one "right way" can be proven to be the one true way, there is still a big difference among points of view and courses of action. Some beliefs and some actions are better than others. These are the beliefs and actions that make our lives healthier, happier, and more pleasant, and these can be demonstrated—through the kind of open rational argument that Socrates practiced. That Socratic model is very important to us. We start out with it and come back to it at the end. Of course, we prefer open rational dialogue with our friends but even open rational dialogue with our enemies is useful. After all, what is the alternative?

The second edition is distinguished from the first by the addition of a significant number of new readings and by the placement of the readings after the expository material, rather than before. We hope students will see the connections we are making more clearly that way. We have also greatly increased our discussion of the items that normally appear in critical thinking textbooks. For example, we have expanded the material on deductive reasoning and included Venn diagrams as well. We have increased the number of informal fallacies we cover. We have added summaries at the end of each chapter. Finally, we have adopted more standard terminology in order to conform to that which students hear in other classes; e.g., "reasoning with probability" has become the standard "inductive reasoning." While we still think our old terminology was more apt, we find that faculty tend to use the more familiar terms, thereby leaving students more confused than enlightened. We hope you will find the changes helpful.

The book is designed as a whole so that the lessons of epistemology learned in the beginning connect very closely with the lessons regarding morality at the end. It is a bit much, however, to accomplish the whole book in a semester. Part II on deductive reasoning can be skipped, if desired, and Chapters 10 and 11 on scientific reasoning and pseudoscience can be passed over to skip to Part IV on morality. We have tried to break the text into pieces that will work well from a pedagogical point of view, providing short daily assignments.

A Teacher's Manual that contains the answers to the exercises and additional questions is available from Prentice Hall. It also contains our motivation and rationale for each chapter. We hope you find it useful. Preface to the First Edition

Two things strike anyone who encounters the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates. First, he is willing to question all assumptions underlying any discussion—even his own. Second, he is determined to make sense of whatever is being discussed. It is this commitment to open rational dialogue that we call thinking Socratically. The Socratic critical thinker is someone willing to test her assumptions in open rational discourse, who does not blindly accept the dictates of authority or dismiss ideas as "mere opinions." The Socratic thinker also pays attention to the logic of ideas in context and is interested in more than the acquisition of a few isolated logical tricks. The goal of this text is to supply the skills and contexts likely to foster this kind of Socratic thinking.

Thinking Socratically differs from other critical thinking texts in that it is not simply a book on informal logic or a watered-down version of a formal logic text. It is a book that asks you, the reader, to think critically about specific, "real life" issues that are significant and important in your everyday life. By reading and thinking about these issues, you will gain insight into how to distinguish warranted beliefs from unwarranted beliefs and acquire some specific tools that can be helpful in making this distinction. Our goal is to help you form lifelong habits of critical thinking, not simply to pass on a few course-related skills that are soon forgotten.

We believe a rational person is someone who is committed to rational action and who wants to make the best decisions she can make. The key to making the best decision—on this Socratic model-is to engage in open dialogue that is democratic and pragmatic. This is a dialogue that considers alternative points of view and that is directed toward the end or goal of human wellbeing and happiness. Our belief in the worth of the open dialogue informs the style of the discussions in each chapter, which are intended as an informal dialogue with you, our reader.

This philosophical approach to critical thinking—which makes Thinking Socratically unique—stresses important concepts generally ignored in most critical thinking texts. One of these is the concept of background knowledge. Background knowledge plays a very important and increasingly acknowledged role in rational or critical thinking. Most everyday reasoning consists of judgments of the likelihood or probability of what will happen or what did happen. The larger the store of background knowledge one brings to this kind of reasoning, the better decisions one can make. The background knowledge we have forms a web of connected beliefs, some more important than others. This web of belief figures prominently in our judgments of whether a statement is warranted or not warranted. Thinking Socratically will encourage you to examine your web of belief and to weed out unwarranted assumptions from that web.

The logical techniques helpful to good critical thinking are also included in Thinking Socratically, but they are always discussed in context. You will see that these techniques can be very useful, but you will also realize that they have limitations. When all is said and done, you will see that there is no such thing as absolute proof or absolute certainty. Decisions have to be made on less than perfect knowledge. In this sense all decisions are pragmatic.

Another distinctive feature of Thinking Socratically is that it treats rational thinking and decision making in a variety of human contexts: the everyday, the scientific, and the moral. The fundamental concepts of rationality—the open-ended dialogue and an expanding store of background knowledge—are shown to characterize all three of these human reasoning contexts. These contexts are presented through an entertaining collection of readings that come from a variety of sources: short stories, newspaper articles, magazine articles, novels, and philosophy. The discussion always follows the readings and develops one or more fundamental themes of critical thinking. The reader develops her own appreciation of the web of belief that informs human reasoning. She begins to see critical thinking as a way of looking at the world and not just a set of techniques to apply in time of doubt or confusion. Thinking Socratically, if it is successful, becomes the way of thinking, not a book title or a class on critical thinking.

Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Editionxiii
Preface to the First Editionxv
Acknowledgmentsxvii
Part IConnections
Chapter 1Why Be Rational?1
Open Dialogue and the Importance of Rationality1
Euthyphro4
Study Questions17
Reason and Culture17
Why the Geese Shrieked19
The Shaman and the Dying Scientist: A Brazilian Tale22
Study Questions24
The Limits of Reason25
Summary27
Exercises28
Chapter 2Language29
The Uses of Language29
Language and the World30
The Corner of the Eye33
Eight Little Piggies35
Study Questions37
Words and Statements37
Warranted Statements39
The Making of Americans41
Study Questions43
Factual Statements44
Summary45
Exercises46
Chapter 3Knowledge and Certainty50
Knowledge and Certainty50
Meditations on First Philosophy55
A Brief History of Time58
Study Questions58
The Web of Belief59
Double Identity61
Study Questions62
Summary63
Exercises63
Chapter 4Arguments and Explanations65
Arguments: Premises and Conclusions65
Implicit Premises and Conclusions67
Arguments: Standard Form68
Logical Warranting69
Deductive Reasoning70
Inductive Reasoning71
Factual Warranting72
The Decameron: Michele Scalza75
The Decameron: Melchizedek77
Study Questions78
Explanations79
The Day-Care Deaths: A Mystery82
Study Questions91
Summary91
Exercises92
Part IIDeductive Reasoning
Chapter 5Deductive Links95
Reasoning with Necessity95
Dissenting Opinion in Gregg v. Georgia96
Study Questions99
Validity and Logical Implication100
Summary103
Exercises104
Chapter 6Deductive Standards105
Logic105
Some Common Valid Arguments106
Anselm's Ontological Argument117
Study Questions117
Anselm's Ontological Argument118
Summary121
Exercises122
Part IIIInductive Reasoning
Chapter 7Supporting Our Claims125
Evidence: Traces and Background Knowledge125
The Adventure of the Blanched Solider130
The William Bradfield Case139
Murder on the Main Line139
Coded Bradfield Note: "My Danger Conspiracy"156
The Jury: Convinced or Confused?159
Bradfield, on Stand, Denies Any Role161
Bradfield and Women164
Study Questions166
Webs of Belief: Confirmation and Proof166
The Warren Commission: Why We Still Don't Believe It169
Conclusion to "The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier"175
Study Questions179
Summary180
Exercises181
Chapter 8Standards of Inductive Reasoning182
Patterns182
Doctors As Detectives185
Study Questions189
Generalizations189
The Literary Digest Predicts Victory by Landon, 1936196
"Digest" Poll Machinery Speeding Up196
"Digest's" First Hundred Thousand198
Landon Holds Lead in "Digest" Poll200
Landon, 1,293,669; Roosevelt, 972,897201
What Went Wrong with the Polls?205
Study Questions208
Analogies209
Thy Countenance Shakes Spears212
Study Questions216
Causal Claims216
So Smoking Causes Cancer: This Is News?225
Renewing Philosophy226
Study Questions228
Summary228
Exercises230
Chapter 9Fallacies232
The Nature of Fallacies232
Fallacies of Irrelevance234
Lost Genius240
Study Questions241
Fallacies of Faulty Generalization242
Love Is a Fallacy245
Study Questions252
Fallacies of Emotional Manipulation252
The Sleaze Merchants Attack254
Study Questions255
Summary255
Exercises257
Chapter 10Scientific Reasoning264
Science and Good Reasoning264
Copernicus and Kepler265
The Heliocentric Theory of Copernicus and Kepler269
Study Questions281
Hypothetical-Deductive Reasoning282
Summary286
Exercises287
Chapter 11Pseudoscience289
Distinguishing Science from Pseudoscience289
Fliess, Freud, and Biorhythm293
Study Questions299
Summary299
Exercises300
Part IVReasoning About Values
Chapter 12The Nature of Morality303
Supporting Moral Claims303
The Brothers Karamazov310
Study Questions310
Morality and Reasoning311
Summary316
Exercises317
Chapter 13Reasoning About Good and Bad319
Making Moral Decisions319
Reasonable Objectivism and Reasonable Subjectivism322
Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals323
Existentialism Is a Humanism327
Study Questions329
Kant329
Sartre333
Summary337
Exercises338
Chapter 14Moral Dialogue340
Dogmatism/Relativism340
Euthyphro344
Classroom Scene348
Study Questions348
Moderation as Key349
Summary352
Exercises353
Chapter 15Reason and Commitment355
Open Rational Dialogue355
Keynote Speech May 18 at Simpson College's 1996 Commencement356
Study Questions357
Index359

Preface

Preface to the Second Edition

We had three purposes in mind when we wrote Thinking Socratically. The first was to help our students, and all college students, become better thinkers—which for us means to engage, like Socrates, willingly and patiently in open rational dialogue. Since most students who take a course in critical thinking are first or second year college students, they are often still at what the cognitive psychologists call black/white thinking. That is, they only see two sides to an argument, theirs, which they assume correct, and the other person's whom they assume to be wrong. We wanted to help them become open to the myriad other possibilities that exist between the two poles of an argument and to learn to engage in dialogue with others and themselves in ways that will help them find these other possibilities. When they finish this text, we hope they will have the ability and the "courage" that Jane Smiley speaks of in the last reading.

Second, we want our student readers to learn that critical thinking is not an esoteric discipline but an important everyday skill like using a computer or driving a car. It helps to get you where you want to go. Hence, we have tried to use everyday examples from stories, newspapers, magazines, even philosophy, to show them these skills in action. Critical thinking cannot be taught without something to think critically about! Yet some textbooks try to do precisely that. We do not. We give them commonplace contexts that exemplify the skill or the need for the skill we are teaching. We think that the skills will be learned more easily and will be remembered when they can be seen in context.

Finally, we seek to overcome the cynicism that many pseudosophisticated college students bring to the classroom. This is the cynicism that stems from the relatively little knowledge they have acquired, which has taught them, they think, that nothing can be proven correct or right. Therefore, they think, people can believe whatever they want to. No one can be proven wrong. We seek to overcome such cynicism with the pragmatic view that, even if no one "right way" can be proven to be the one true way, there is still a big difference among points of view and courses of action. Some beliefs and some actions are better than others. These are the beliefs and actions that make our lives healthier, happier, and more pleasant, and these can be demonstrated—through the kind of open rational argument that Socrates practiced. That Socratic model is very important to us. We start out with it and come back to it at the end. Of course, we prefer open rational dialogue with our friends but even open rational dialogue with our enemies is useful. After all, what is the alternative?

The second edition is distinguished from the first by the addition of a significant number of new readings and by the placement of the readings after the expository material, rather than before. We hope students will see the connections we are making more clearly that way. We have also greatly increased our discussion of the items that normally appear in critical thinking textbooks. For example, we have expanded the material on deductive reasoning and included Venn diagrams as well. We have increased the number of informal fallacies we cover. We have added summaries at the end of each chapter. Finally, we have adopted more standard terminology in order to conform to that which students hear in other classes; e.g., "reasoning with probability" has become the standard "inductive reasoning." While we still think our old terminology was more apt, we find that faculty tend to use the more familiar terms, thereby leaving students more confused than enlightened. We hope you will find the changes helpful.

The book is designed as a whole so that the lessons of epistemology learned in the beginning connect very closely with the lessons regarding morality at the end. It is a bit much, however, to accomplish the whole book in a semester. Part II on deductive reasoning can be skipped, if desired, and Chapters 10 and 11 on scientific reasoning and pseudoscience can be passed over to skip to Part IV on morality. We have tried to break the text into pieces that will work well from a pedagogical point of view, providing short daily assignments.

A Teacher's Manual that contains the answers to the exercises and additional questions is available from Prentice Hall. It also contains our motivation and rationale for each chapter. We hope you find it useful.

Preface to the First Edition

Two things strike anyone who encounters the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates. First, he is willing to question all assumptions underlying any discussion—even his own. Second, he is determined to make sense of whatever is being discussed. It is this commitment to open rational dialogue that we call thinking Socratically. The Socratic critical thinker is someone willing to test her assumptions in open rational discourse, who does not blindly accept the dictates of authority or dismiss ideas as "mere opinions." The Socratic thinker also pays attention to the logic of ideas in context and is interested in more than the acquisition of a few isolated logical tricks. The goal of this text is to supply the skills and contexts likely to foster this kind of Socratic thinking.

Thinking Socratically differs from other critical thinking texts in that it is not simply a book on informal logic or a watered-down version of a formal logic text. It is a book that asks you, the reader, to think critically about specific, "real life" issues that are significant and important in your everyday life. By reading and thinking about these issues, you will gain insight into how to distinguish warranted beliefs from unwarranted beliefs and acquire some specific tools that can be helpful in making this distinction. Our goal is to help you form lifelong habits of critical thinking, not simply to pass on a few course-related skills that are soon forgotten.

We believe a rational person is someone who is committed to rational action and who wants to make the best decisions she can make. The key to making the best decision—on this Socratic model-is to engage in open dialogue that is democratic and pragmatic. This is a dialogue that considers alternative points of view and that is directed toward the end or goal of human wellbeing and happiness. Our belief in the worth of the open dialogue informs the style of the discussions in each chapter, which are intended as an informal dialogue with you, our reader.

This philosophical approach to critical thinking—which makes Thinking Socratically unique—stresses important concepts generally ignored in most critical thinking texts. One of these is the concept of background knowledge. Background knowledge plays a very important and increasingly acknowledged role in rational or critical thinking. Most everyday reasoning consists of judgments of the likelihood or probability of what will happen or what did happen. The larger the store of background knowledge one brings to this kind of reasoning, the better decisions one can make. The background knowledge we have forms a web of connected beliefs, some more important than others. This web of belief figures prominently in our judgments of whether a statement is warranted or not warranted. Thinking Socratically will encourage you to examine your web of belief and to weed out unwarranted assumptions from that web.

The logical techniques helpful to good critical thinking are also included in Thinking Socratically, but they are always discussed in context. You will see that these techniques can be very useful, but you will also realize that they have limitations. When all is said and done, you will see that there is no such thing as absolute proof or absolute certainty. Decisions have to be made on less than perfect knowledge. In this sense all decisions are pragmatic.

Another distinctive feature of Thinking Socratically is that it treats rational thinking and decision making in a variety of human contexts: the everyday, the scientific, and the moral. The fundamental concepts of rationality—the open-ended dialogue and an expanding store of background knowledge—are shown to characterize all three of these human reasoning contexts. These contexts are presented through an entertaining collection of readings that come from a variety of sources: short stories, newspaper articles, magazine articles, novels, and philosophy. The discussion always follows the readings and develops one or more fundamental themes of critical thinking. The reader develops her own appreciation of the web of belief that informs human reasoning. She begins to see critical thinking as a way of looking at the world and not just a set of techniques to apply in time of doubt or confusion. Thinking Socratically, if it is successful, becomes the way of thinking, not a book title or a class on critical thinking.

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