We are frequently confronted with arguments. Arguments are attempts to persuade us – to influence our beliefs and actions – by giving us reasons to believe this or that. Critical Thinking: A Concise Guide will equip students with the concepts and techniques used in the identification, analysis and assessment of arguments whatever the subject matter or context. Through precise and accessible discussion, this book provides the tools to become a successful critical thinker, one who can act and believe in accordance with good reasons, and who can articulate and make explicit those reasons.
Key topics discussed include:
- Core concepts in argumentation
- How language can serve to obscure or conceal the real content of arguments
- How to distinguish argumentation from rhetoric
- How to avoid common confusions surrounding words such as ‘truth’, ‘knowledge’ and ‘opinion’
- How to identify and evaluate the most common types of argument
- How to distinguish good reasoning from bad in terms of deductive validity and induction.
This fifth edition has been revised and extensively updated throughout, including a significantly expanded range of ‘complete examples’, the introduction of Venn diagrams and the discussion of fake news and related phenomena arising in the contemporary scene.
The dynamic Routledge Critical Thinking companion website provides thoroughly updated resources for both instructors and students, including new examples and case studies, flashcards, sample questions, practice questions and answers, student activities and a testbank of questions for use in the classroom. Visit www.routledge.com/cw/bowell.
Table of Contents
Preface to the fifth edition
Introduction and Preview
1. Introducing Arguments
2. Language and Rhetoric
3. Logic: Deductive Validity
4. Logic: Probability and Inductive Reasoning
5. The Practice of Argument-Reconstruction
6. Issues in Argument-Assessment
8. Truth, Knowledge and Belief.
Answers and hints to selected exercises
Tracy Bowell is Associate Professor in Philosophy and Pro Vice-Chancellor Teaching and Learning at the University of Waikato, Aotearoa/New Zealand.
Robert Cowan is Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Glasgow, UK.
Gary Kemp is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Glasgow, UK.
Reviews of the previous edition:
'The way in which this text combines clear and detailed explanations of technical concepts with a comprehensive set of contemporary and relevant examples is excellent. Whilst the focus is largely on developing the practical skills of argument reconstruction and analysis, the authors never lose sight of the larger philosophical picture, and this makes the book a joy both to teach with, and to learn from.' - Joel Walmsley, University College Cork, Ireland
'Critical Thinking is the best textbook by some distance for undergraduate students approaching the subject for the first time. It is clearly written and introduces the fundamental concepts of the subject in an accessible and systematic way. The fourth edition contains welcome new material on probabilistic reasoning, as well as continued improvements throughout the book. It remains the clear first-choice textbook for my course.' - Graham Stevens, University of Manchester, UK
'The fourth edition is a clear improvement over previous editions. The book is still the best guide around to the habits of reflective argument reconstruction and assessment—that undergraduate philosophy majors are expected to form.' - Steven Jauss, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, USA
Reviews of earlier editions:
'This concise guide offers relevant, rigorous and approachable methods … The authors focus on analysing and assessing arguments in a thoughtfully structured series of chapters, with clear definitions, a glossary, plenty of examples and some useful exercises.' - Will Ord, Times Educational Supplement
'In my view this is the most useful textbook on the market for its stated audience. It provides exceptionally clear explanations, with sufficient technical detail, but without over-complication. It is my first-choice text for teaching critical thinking to first-year undergraduate students.' - Dawn M. Wilson, University of Hull, UK
'This is the best single text I have seen for addressing the level, presumptions, and interests of the non-specialist.' - Charles Ess, University of Oslo, Norway