Keith Douglas' Web Page

About me Find out who I am and what I do.
My resumé A copy of my resumé and other documentation about my education and work experience for employers and the curious.
Reviews, theses, articles, presentations A collection of papers from my work, categorized and annotated.
Current research projects What I am currently working on, including some non-research material.
Interesting people People professionally "connected" to me in some way.
Interesting organizations Organizations I am "connected" to. (Some rather loosely.)
Intellectual/professional influences Influences on my work, including an organization chart. Here you can also buy many good books on philosophy and other subjects via amazon.com. I have included brief reviews of hundreds of books.
Professional resources Research sources, amazon.com associates programs, etc.
What is the philosophy of computing? A brief introduction to my primary professional interest.
My intellectual heroes A partial list of important people. Limited to the dead.
My educational philosophy As a sometime teacher I've developed one. Includes book resources.

Book Influences - Logic: Critical Thinking

Title
Author
Purchase / Enjoy Cover
Comment
A Rulebook for Arguments Weston This book is perfectly named: it is not a monograph, treatise or even a textbook for argumentation. If you want to learn the finer points of logic and argument analysis, look elsewhere. Otherwise this is a decent introduction.
Argument Critical Thinking, Logic and the Fallacies Woods et al   A pretty good introductory logic textbook with a special emphasis on fallacies and the process of debate and dialectic. I have TA'd from it.
Argumentation Schemes Walton, Reed, Macagno A slightly poorly edited (redundant discussion, acronyms not expanded at first use) collection and analysis of schemes of argument both philosophically and computationally. AML ("argument markup language") is introduced and the notion of the "critical question". Other than the purely editorial comments, my only criticism of this useful volume is that it (like many such books) fails to realize that the problem with the "appeal to experts" is precisely learning to pick out genuine expertise. Strengths of the book include a wide variety of material covered (even if most of it is in a way an annotated bibliography) and a large number of references.
Belieiving Bullshit: How Not to Get Sucked into an Intellectual Black Hole Law Law's small book analyzes ways in which bad arguments are often structured - this is sort of one level of abstraction away from the ususal discussion of fallacies. He shows how common topics of heated (and skeptically involved) discussions often fall prey to these bad forms and also discusses how they are interrelated. Suitable as one text in a critical thinking course, though in some institutions the title might be offputting; the most important limitation, however, is that there are no exercises - instructors would have to provide their own. (Also, it is important to realize that the author, as is typical of many philosophers, oversells the actual historical importance of Francis Bacon's philosophy of science.)
Crimes Against Logic: Exposing the Bogus Arguments of Priests, Politicians, Journalists, and Other Serial Offenders Whyte Whyte's small book does expose much bad reasoning (whether in logic strictu sensu or not I'll ignore) but unfortunately suffers from the defects of largely preaching to choir and, more crucially, fails to be properly skeptical of much of what passes for economics these days. This extends to both descriptive matters (hint: intro textbooks are naive beyond belief) and normative ones (about poverty). His point about disposal income is correct in abstraction, but without knowing what proportion of "total wealth" or the like that is, the argument is useless.
Fundamentals of Critical Argumentation Walton This is an example of one of the "new waves" in elementary logic instruction: to deemphasize learning the more mathematical elements and instead communication, debate and dialectic. For many humanities students, this approach might be more fruitful long term. My only (minor) complaints with this book are that: (A) It doesn't treat appeal to expert opinion well - telling readers that authorities have to be relevant is one thing, but helping readers figure out which authorities really are such is the issue in many cases (think of "alternative medicine" - many people erroneously think that chiropractors are spine experts for example). (B) The book's discussion of probability (and its relative, statistics) is somewhat confused. As usual for many presentations, the author is of the view (at least here) that "frequentist or subjectivist" are the only two choices and that probability can be usefully attributed of propositions - which if one reflects a little makes no sense in the context of propositions.
Paradoxes From A to Z (2e) Clark As might be inferred, this is a small "dictionary" of various paradoxes and apparent paradoxes, plus an entry on "paradox" itself.
Reasoning Scriven This is a critical thinking book like no other I have seen. Dense and detailed, it uses "argument diagramming" and other techniques as well as good remarks on how to close read and other skills. As it happens, it is also my first logic book: one that I got when I was around ten years old.
Thinking Critically Kiersky A very elementary logic book.

 

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