Critical Thinking Textbooks

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[1], [2] and [6], in particular, contain sections or chapters devoted to extra-long examples (entire pieces rather than single paragraphs).

[5], however, contains somewhat fewer examples than the other books and doesn’t illustrate analysis techniques equally comprehensively. In terms of didactic concept, [4] differs significantly from all the other textbooks: It starts with a brief introduction of basic methods and then unfolds, in eight chapters, detailed illustrative analyses of complex arguments.

Secondly, and more importantly, I assess the textbooks against a couple of key beliefs, which I shall state upfront: Argument analysis makes explicit the informal judgments involved in natural language reasoning and argumentation.

In particular, a good reconstruction uncovers all the hidden assumptions an argument relies on (to make them amenable to critique) and shows, in the same time, which premisses are actually unneeded.

These statements are part of the ideal that guides our own reconstructions (see, e.g., here or here).

Accordingly, this post (as well as the reviews to come) explores to which extent a textbook teaches you to reconstruct arguments in a similarly detailed and Argunet-compatible way.A good textbook tells you how to find such implicit premisses.Now, while [1], [2] and [5] discuss this issue in depth, [3], [4] and [6] touch upon this question only briefly and, more importantly, don’t provide a for uncovering implicit assumptions.It’s here where substantial differences between the textbooks emerge.As spelled out above, a key function of argument reconstruction is to uncover hidden assumptions.All books devote a chapter or section to the question how to determine whether a text contains an argument at all and, if so, what the argument is supposed to show.They explain the basic technique of using conclusion- and premiss-indicators.In addition, [1] nicely shows that the reconstruction is the result of a hermeneutic process involving earlier and preliminary versions of the reconstruction.[2] analyses a complex argument about traffic rules as follows (p.One of the main challenges in argument reconstruction consists in handling argumentatively opaque and logically confused texts.Simplistic cases of natural language reasoning may have a role to play in formal logic instructions, but they’re clearly insufficient if you want to learn how to deal with real argumentation.


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