A Guide to Good Reasoning: Cultivating Intellectual Virtues - Second edition, revised and updated
David C. Wilson
Copyright Year: 1999
ISBN 13: 9781946135667
Publisher: University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing
Conditions of Use
The book covers all the basics of good critical reasoning and the importance of obtaining and employing intellectual virtues. The author goes into specifics, has many examples, and there are exercises for each section. The technical terms are... read more
The book covers all the basics of good critical reasoning and the importance of obtaining and employing intellectual virtues. The author goes into specifics, has many examples, and there are exercises for each section. The technical terms are explained, and there is a summary of the main points at the end of each chapter. The first chapters introduce the student to good reasoning and the later chapters introduce how to evaluate arguments.
The content of the book is very accurate and precise. It is objective.
This is the kind of book that is not likely to go out of date. I imagine that as the second edition the author updated his examples and exercises, but the "rules of logic" do not change over time.
The book is very well written. It is lucid and even has some humor worked into the explanations and samples. There is, however, one case where the author, attempting to define the fallacy of "slippery slope," was unduly vague. He defines the fallacy as "mistakenly concluding that because fuzzy borders can be harder to see, they are nonexistent" (p.115). The fallacy is usually, and better, described as when someone mistakenly believes that because one bad event occurred, then a series of other bad events will also occur.
Consistent throughout and coherent.
The book lays out its theme progressively. In order to appreciate the later chapters you would have to understand the early chapters. However, the first few chapters could be taken separately, especially if one was interested in introducing students to the fundamentals of understanding arguments in a basic reasoning or philosophy class.
Topics are very well organized and logical.
There are no problems
The book is well-written with hardly any errors. I found only one typo on page 91 where the # 2 was omitted in an enumeration of premises.
There is no obvious insensitivity or bias in the writing, but since the examples and samples are taken from newspapers, magazines, history of science, and western literature, I can imagine that some students might not immediately grasp the references. Would any millennial likely know who H. L. Mencken or Senator Bob Taft was?
This is a superior quality informal logic textbook. It is recommended without reservations. My only qualm is that the author tends to go into a depth of detail that some students are not likely to appreciate.
Table of Contents
- Part One: Reasoning and Arguments
- Chapter One: Good Reasoning
- Chapter Two: What Makes an Argument?
- Part Two: Clarifying Arguments
- Chapter Three: A Framework for Clarifying
- Chapter Four: Streamlining
- Chapter Five: Specifying
- Chapter Six: Structuring
- Part Three: Evaluating Arguments
- Chapter Seven: A Framework for Evaluating
- Chapter Eight: Fallacies
- Part Four: Evaluating the Truth of the Premises
- Chapter Nine: How to Think About Truth
- Part Five: Evaluating Deductive Logic
- Chapter Ten: How to Think About Deductive Logic
- Chapter Eleven: If–Then Arguments
- Chapter Twelve: Either–Or Arguments and More
- Part Six: Evaluating Inductive Logic
- Chapter Thirteen: How to Think About Inductive Logic
- Chapter Fourteen: Inductive Generalization
- Chapter Fifteen: Arguments from Analogy
- Chapter Sixteen: Explanatory Arguments
About the Book
A Guide to Good Reasoning has been described by reviewers as “far superior to any other critical reasoning text.” It shows with both wit and philosophical care how students can become good at everyday reasoning. It starts with attitude—with alertness to judgmental heuristics and with the cultivation of intellectual virtues. From there it develops a system for skillfully clarifying and evaluating arguments, according to four standards—whether the premises fit the world, whether the conclusion fits the premises, whether the argument fits the conversation, and whether it is possible to tell.
About the Contributors
David Carl Wilson earned his PhD in philosophy from UCLA, where he taught for many years and served in several roles, including Associate Provost. A Guide to Good Reasoning grew out of his frequent teaching of UCLA’s large undergraduate course, Philosophy 9: Principles of Critical Reasoning, originated by David Kaplan. Wilson is currently Professor of Philosophy at Webster University, where he served as Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences for 14 years. He teaches in both the Philosophy and the Management Departments; his research concentrates on social philosophy, especially political philosophy and the philosophy of management and leadership, with a special interest in Machiavelli. He serves on the board of trustees of several major organizations; is on the executive editorial board of the academic journal Philosophy of Management; and is the Staff Philosopher for Tennessee Williams St. Louis.