Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Critical Thinking

The Pocket Guide to Critical Thinking, by Richard Epstein.  A reader sent me a copy asking for a view, or a review, so I had a look.  Verdict: not a work on logic as such, but on informal argumentation. It covers claims, a bit about compound claims (i.e. compound propositions linked by logical connectives like 'and', 'or' and so on), reasoning from experience, use of numbers and graphs, and a bit at the end about generalisation.  It bears roughly the same relation to logic as Aristotle's Topics does to his more formally structured logical works.

There is considerable use of examples, which I found slightly tiresome after a few chapters.  However, I left it lying around and found my 16 year old son reading with keen interest.  It clearly has an appeal to that age group and indeed my correspondent confirmed that this was the target readership.  It would be useful to anyone who was interested in studying logic or philosophy at university level, and wanted a background in the approach and method which these subjects use.  So, I would certainly recommend it.

Epstein also wrote the somewhat more advanced Computability, reviewed here by Richard Zach.

Richard L. Epstein, The Pocket Guide to Critical Thinking, 4th edition, Advanced Reasoning Forum, Socorro U.S.A. 2011.

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