Reason & Argument, 2nd edition

  • Richard Feldman

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This book presents a clear and philosophically sound method for identifying, interpreting, and evaluating arguments as they appear in non-technical sources. It focuses on a more functional, real-world goal of argument analysis as a tool for figuring out what is reasonable to believe rather than as an instrument of persuasion. KEY TOPICS: Develops a precise, step-by-step method for analyzing arguments about a variety of topics -- shows how to rewrite arguments in a format that makes them clearer and makes their evaluation easier; and then how to evaluate the rewritten argument. Illustrates methods by applying them to both serious and humorous arguments about different topics as they appear in a variety of contexts — e.g., newspaper and magazine editorials and columns, short essays, informal reports of scientific results, etc. Uses simple, relatively non-controversial examples to illustrate the basic ideas and concepts, and then offers more complicated and controversial examples for challenging applications. MARKET: For anyone interested in identifying, interpreting, and evaluating arguments as they appear in non- technical sources.

Table of contents

(NOTE: Each chapter concludes with a Summary.)


1. Introduction.

Arguments. Reason, Rhetoric, and Argument Analysis. The Ways People Deal with Arguments. Impediments to Good Reasoning.

2. Truth and Rationality.

Uses of Language. Truth and Correspondence to the Facts. Rational Belief.

3. Well-Formed Arguments.

Argument Analysis. Well-Formed Arguments. Validity, Cogency, and the Truth Value of Premises.

4. Strong Arguments.

Deductive Strength. Inductive Strength.


5. Reconstructing Arguments.

Argument Reconstruction and the Principle of Charity. Distinguishing Arguments from Non-Arguments. Identifying Premises and Conclusions. General and Specific Premises. Adding Implicit Premises.

6. Details of Argument Reconstruction.

Improper Wording. Missing Premises. Including Unnecessary Premises.

7. Evaluating Arguments.

Basic Rules of Argument Evaluation. Evaluating Specific Types of Premises. Argument, Analysis and Problems of Meaning.


8. Arguments and Testimony.

The Role of Testimony. Testimonial Arguments. Premises and Testimony.

9. Statistical Arguments and Predictions.

Past to Future Arguments. Simple Statistical Statements. The Standard Pattern for Survey Arguments. Evaluating Survey Arguments. Correlations.

10. Causal Arguments.

Causal Statements. The Meaning of General Causal Statements. Knowledge of General Causal Statements. Analyzing Causal Arguments. Common Errors in Causal Reasoning.

11. Moral Arguments.

Moral Propositions. Morality, Rationality, and Truth. Analyzing Moral Arguments. Common Problems in Moral Reasoning.

12. Extended Examples.

The Abortion Debate. Mathematical Reasoning Ability.

Appendix A. The Steps of Argument Analysis.

Appendix B. Principles, Definitions, and Patterns of Argument.

Appendix C. Answers to Selected Exercises.


Published by Pearson (June 12th 1998) - Copyright © 1999