How to Think Logically

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  • Edition: 2nd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2011-07-28
  • Publisher: Pearson

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Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?


This concise, affordable, and engaging text is designed for introductory courses on logic and critical thinking.  This unique book covers the basic principles of informal logic while also raising substantive issues in other areas of philosophy: epistemology, ethics, philosophy of language, and philosophy of science.     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.

Author Biography

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 garys@mec.cuny.edu . For more information about his work, visit http://www.mec.cuny.edu/academic_affairs/libarts_ed_school/phil_rel_dept/seay_bio.asp.


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 snuccetelli@stcloudstate.edu . For more information about her work, visit http://web.stcloudstate.edu/sinuccetelli/.




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 garys@mec.cuny.edu and sinuccetelli@stcloudstate.edu. 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

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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