Immediately in chapter 1, "Making Logical Choices", one sees that this book is different from an overabundance of virtually indistinguishable and undistinguished competitors. The very first example is not an argument to a truth-valued conclusion but a case of practical reasoning to the making of a choice between alternative courses of action. Far too many authors of contemporary texts in informal logic — keeping an eye on the sorts of arguments found in books on formal logic — forget, or underplay, how much of our daily reasoning is concerned not with arguments leading to truth-valued conclusions but with making choices, assessing reasons, seeking advice, etc.
Dowden gets the balance and the emphasis right. The earlier part of the book chapters is situated squarely within the 'new' rhetoric, invoking the core concepts in reasoning conceived as a dialogical rather than a strictly logical read "formal" exercise.
This first half of the book is given over to developing such concepts as deception, persuasion, misleading reports, rules of discourse, ambiguity, vagueness, imprecision, pseudoprecision, burden of proof, description, explanation, argumentation, and the tension between principles of fidelity and charity, etc.
The more traditional fare, with the introduction of familiar logical terminology — e. The last part of the book chapters — which is, incidentally, a quantum jump in difficulty — introduces more technical notions, viz. There is ample material in the first 11 chapters for a one-semester course; one can, if pressed for time, omit chapters The apparatus of the sentential calculus is relegated to the appendices. Dowden clearly sees this as a book about reasoning, not as an introduction to formal logic or to symbol manipulation.
Dowden adopts a conversational style, a style fraught with hazard, and succeeds brilliantly. A year ago, in a wide-ranging Introduction to Philosophy course, I adopted a textbook also written in a conversational style. I thought the style of that earlier book entertaining; some of my students did not: they thought it condescending and banal. But there were no such complaints about Dowden's book which I have just used in a Critical Thinking course taught to more than students.
Their end-of-the-semester critiques of Logical Reasoning are laudatory to an extent that I have never before seen in nearly 30 years of teaching. Virtually without exception, every student in the course gave the text rave reviews, many of them writing that they read it in their spare time just for sheer pleasure!
But the unique feature of the book is its use of the intellectual virtue tradition to schematize what--beyond logical techniques--is required to be an excellent inquirer. Students will discover a helpful range of concepts for thinking about the personal qualities that can make inquiry go well or poorly along with exercises that will train them to describe successes or failures of inquiry in terms of the virtues. I am pleased to recommend T.
Ryan Byerly's Introducing Logic and Critical Thinking as an excellent foundation for meeting these challenges. Byerly begins with the basics of logical reasoning and leads readers through a step-by-step method to understand how to evaluate arguments they encounter and to construct strong arguments of their own. His emphasis on the intellectual virtues as primary in critical thinking is especially valuable, as this element is often missing in standard logic textbooks.
This much-needed book is for anyone who wishes to become a better disciple of Jesus Christ by loving the Lord with all their heart, mind, and soul. I really liked the added section on "Fake News and Misinformation". I haven't seen that in a critical thinking book before, and I thought it was a valuable addition that was clearly informed by current research.
I would have appreciated more guidance as to how to judge whether a source is reliable. Of course this is a hard problem see Goldman's classic "Experts" paper , but the book just gave us a short list of reliable sources.
But it introduces many, many distinctions and new pieces of terminology. Almost all of them are briefly explained when they are introduced, but the sheer number of terms and distinctions is difficult to keep track of. I found this to be a problem in the exercises in particular.
Many of the exercises require students to employ the fine distinctions given in the text, but they haven't really been given much guidance typically, just one example per term is given as to how to apply those distinctions.
Consistency rating: 4 The book is generally consistent, or at least as consistent as it can be given the "kitchen-sink" approach to content that it employs. Their end-of-the-semester critiques of Logical Reasoning are laudatory to an extent that I have never before seen in nearly 30 years of teaching.
The last part of the book chapters — which is, incidentally, a quantum jump in difficulty — introduces more technical notions, viz. This unique text features a modular structure that allows instructors to teach the chapters in almost any order. Dowden and I engaged in numerous and lengthy discussions about the material in this book.
In chapter 6, Dowden has elected to discuss a sampling of fallacies a sampling that strikes me as rather arbitrarily selected while he consigns a residue to Appendix A. One virtue of this text is its modularity.
I would have appreciated more guidance as to how to judge whether a source is reliable.