Logic

What is an argument, and what is it not? In logic we generally study the validity of inferences, which are what we call arguments. An inference, or argument, in logic is a relationship between the truth values of two statements, namely that if one is true, the other one must be too. The one that we start with is some bit of evidence or a basic principle called a premise, and the one we end up with is what must follow from the first one, either certainly, or probably, our conclusion.

But not all statements have this relationship to one another, so that’s what we study, when they do and when they don’t. It’s a surprise and a shock to most people that it doesn’t really matter to a logician whether these things actually are true, just how they are related. Some logicians think you can use logic to determine what the truth really is, but that’s mostly not true. It’s really just a tool for telling what must be true, IF some other claim is true, but it doesn’t tell us whether the starting claim is or is not true. For that you need experience in the world, pure reasoning, or pure commitment.

In any case, the classic comedy sketch “The Argument Clinic” by Monty Python’s Flying Circus brilliantly illustrates what a logician means by argument and especially what does not count. Arguments can be long or short, but no one wants to argue with someone who is too gives up too quickly (like, whatever, okay), or just contradicts everything you say (no it isn’t), or denies reality, or pretends not to remember what just happened, or just wants to complain, or abuse you, or who uses irrelevant evidence like appeals to law in a moral argument, or who wants to argue instead of recognizing that you are in pain. This is a funny sketch, so funny that we must be careful not to miss the very serious problems with the ways that people argue, to which each line of this comic masterpiece points.

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Monty Python’s Argument Clinic:

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LOGIC RESOURCES: Below are various loosely categorized resources on the study of logic

Argument Tutorials and Courses Online

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Important Logic Texts

History of Logic

Logicians

Uses of Logic

Logic Organizations

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DEDUCTION

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Categorical Logic

Square of Opposition & Venn Diagrams for Categorical Propositions

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Beginner

Advanced

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Propositional Logic

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Beginner

Advanced

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Predicate Logic

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Fuzzy Logic

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Logical Positivism

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INDUCTION

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Kinds of Inductive Argument

  • Analogy
  • Generalization
  • Causal arguments
  • Predictions
  • Signs

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Analogy

Inductive Generalization

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RHETORIC AND FALLACIES

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Classic Rhetoric:

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Fallacies in General

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Relativism

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Opinions

Other things that go wrong with reasoning

Fact Resistance

Credulity of Incredibility (Instead, be credulous and seek qualified credentials.)

Lies and Mis/Disinformation

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CRITICAL THINKING

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Critical Thinking in General

Critical Thinking Exercises, Worksheets and Quizzes

Critical Thinking Academia and Pedagogy

Socratic Method as Pedagogy

Critical Thinking Publications

Critical Thinking Video and Audio

Informal Debates

Podcasts, Blogs, Magazines, and Courses

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Critical Thinking Pedagogical Tools/Textbooks

  • Moore &Parker,Critical Thinking, McGraw-Hill,
  • Howard Kahane & Nancy Cavender, Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric, Wadsworth Publishing
  • Waller, Bruce N. Critical Thinking: Consider the Verdict, Prentice Hall
  • Hacking, Ian. An Introduction to Probability and Inductive Logic. Cambridge University Press
  • Kahneman, Daniel. Thinking, Fast and Slow. Broadview and Doubleday.
  • Sinnott Armstrong, Walter & Fogelin, Robert. Understanding Arguments Cengage Wadsworth.
  • John Chaffee, Thinking Critically, Houghton Mifflin
  • Antony Flew, How to Think Straight Prometheus Books
  • Lunsford Andrea A. and John J. Ruszkiewicz. Everything’s an Argument. New York: Bedford Books, 1998.
  • Naguib Mahfouz, Akhenaten: Dweller in Truth, translated by Tagried Abu-Hassabo, (Anchor Books, 1998)
  • Quine, Willard Van Orman. Elementary Logic, Revised Edition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981.
  • Armstrong, Walter & Fogelin, Robert. 2010. Understanding Arguments. Belmont, CA: Cengage
  • Buddhist Logic and Epistemology: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/buddhist-logic-and-epistemology-bimal-krishna-matilal/1101631100

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Critical Thinking and Logic Syllabi

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What does Kanye West mean by ‘argument’? Is he making an argument in the logical or philosophical sense? If so, what are his conclusion and premises? What kind of argument is it? A good one?