Introduction to Logic and Critical Thinking Version 1.4

Introduction to Logic and Critical Thinking

Introduction to Logic

Logic

Math

This is an introductory textbook in logic and critical thinking. The goal of the

textbook is to provide the reader with a set of tools and skills that will enable

them to identify and evaluate arguments. The book is intended for an

introductory course that covers both formal and informal logic. As such, it is not

a formal logic textbook, but is closer to what one would find marketed as a

“critical thinking textbook.” The formal logic in chapter 2 is intended to give an elementary introduction to formal logic. Specifically, chapter 2 introduces several different formal methods for determining whether an argument is valid or invalid (truth tables, proofs, Venn diagrams). I contrast these formal methods with the informal method of determining validity introduced in chapter 1. What I take to be the central theoretical lesson with respect to the formal logic is simply that of understanding the difference between formal and informal methods of evaluating an argument’s validity. I believe there are also practical benefits of learning the formal logic. First and foremost, once one has internalized some of the valid forms of argument, it is easy to impose these structures on arguments one encounters. The ability to do this can be of use in evaluating an argumentative passage, especially when the argument concerns a topic with which one is not very familiar (such as on the GRE or LSAT).

textbook is to provide the reader with a set of tools and skills that will enable

them to identify and evaluate arguments. The book is intended for an

introductory course that covers both formal and informal logic. As such, it is not

a formal logic textbook, but is closer to what one would find marketed as a

“critical thinking textbook.” The formal logic in chapter 2 is intended to give an elementary introduction to formal logic. Specifically, chapter 2 introduces several different formal methods for determining whether an argument is valid or invalid (truth tables, proofs, Venn diagrams). I contrast these formal methods with the informal method of determining validity introduced in chapter 1. What I take to be the central theoretical lesson with respect to the formal logic is simply that of understanding the difference between formal and informal methods of evaluating an argument’s validity. I believe there are also practical benefits of learning the formal logic. First and foremost, once one has internalized some of the valid forms of argument, it is easy to impose these structures on arguments one encounters. The ability to do this can be of use in evaluating an argumentative passage, especially when the argument concerns a topic with which one is not very familiar (such as on the GRE or LSAT).

Matthew J. Van Cleave

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Lansing Community College

Rahmah Agustira

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