Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Critical Thinking: A Beginner's Guide by Sharon M. Kaye (Book Review #28 of 2015)


Critical Thinking: A Beginner's Guide (Beginner's Guides)

Sharon M. Kaye is a professor of Philosophy at John Carroll University. She's written several introductions to philosophy and logic with students in mind. She writes in the intro that she was converted to Philosophy as a major while attending a Critical Thinking lecture in which she was confronted with the notion that "not everything can be true," which offended her post-modern senses at the time. I found this book to be a good introduction to logic. One nice aspect is that Kaye has selected articles from various newspapers and magazines for students to critique as exercises. She explains how to set up a good argument, how to lay out all the premises of someone else's argument, and how to find weaknesses, critiquing a paper by Steven Pinker as the concluding example.

An argument cannot be sound if it is not valid. While soundness is subjective, validity requires a conclusion that logically follows from the arguments' premises. Kaye starts with Socrates' categorical syllogisms, a three-step transitive argument, modus ponens, various fallacies, etc. Avoid affirming the consequent and denying the antecedent.

It took me back to a mathematical logic and set theory course I'd had. There we dealt more with Boolean logic, I wish I'd had logic from the philosophy side as well. Interestingly, religion is one of Kaye's interests. The first example of establishing a logic argument is one from William Lane Craig on the existence of a creator. I'm reminded that he teaches courses in logic for his home church.

I give this guide 4 stars out of 5. It's a great introduction.

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