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Being Logical: A Guide to Good Thinking Paperback – May 10, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
"In logic, as in life, it is the obvious that most often bears emphasizing, because it so easily escapes our notice," McInerny argues in this pithy guide to applying logical thinking to everyday life. Modeled after Strunk and Whites indispensable handbook, The Elements of Style, McInernys primer offers valuable counsel on making a clear and effective point. He calls attention to the tremendous importance that language holds in the crafting and presentation of an argument, advising readers to "make your words as precise and sharply focused as possible" and to keep arguments, or at least their essential purpose, simple. Readers need not have a background in philosophy to follow McInernys remarkably comprehensible explanation of the methods used to construct a valid case, including the syllogistic argument, the conjunctive and disjunctive arguments and the conditional argument. The author also dedicates considerable discussion to the sources and the principal forms of illogical thinking, from such common ruses as begging the question and using tears as a diversionary tactic to the more ethically questionable ad hominem strategy, in which a person ignores an argument and attacks his opponents character instead. McInerny recommends that people hone their logical thinking skills by using them in real life situations, but perhaps one of the best ways his audience can learn to clearly express their views is by examining the crisp, articulate writing in this slender but richly informative guide.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Major Premise: Sixty men can do a piece of work sixty times as quickly as one man. Minor Premise: One man can dig a posthole in sixty seconds; therefore-Conclusion: Sixty men can dig a post-hole in one second." Ambrose Bierce's satire on the syllogism belongs to one of many species of specious reasoning that college professor McInerny takes to task in this precis on logic. Remarking that logic is rarely taught "as such" in American education, he presents this makeup course consciously modeled on Strunk and White's Elements of Style (1959). In concise language, McInerny's guide distributes the elements of logic among short, admonitory headings, such as "Avoid Vague and Ambiguous Language." McInerny also provides definitions of the tools of logic and their application in arriving at truth. Inculcating this noble and, in principle, attainable aim, McInerny's explanatory outline of sound thinking will be eminently beneficial to expository writers, debaters, and public speakers. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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Hardcover 2004 160 pp
One of the stated goals in author D.Q. McInerny's preface to "Being Logical" is to in "some degree succeed in doing for the cause of good thinking what 'Elements of Style' has done for that of good writing." This book does not meet that goal. It is very doubtful that I will keep it on hand as a reference to help form my thoughts or to construct arguments. There's not enough "how to" guidance for that.
Further, many of the examples that are given do not seem to have been very thoughtfully crafted. Based on that, and also on the too-informal language that pops up throughout, one might be led to suspect that McInerny cobbled together some lecture notes for this book, but didn't make the extra effort to enliven it and strengthen it. The book actually feels like it could be the appendix or the introductory chapter to a larger, better work.
Judging outside the goal of the author, the book is not awful or misleading like some reviewers have made it out to be. It was worthwhile and certainly not a waste of time, but given the opportunity to go back and choose another book for an introduction to logic, I would. And maybe if you're reading this review, you should too.
Update: A better and much more thorough introduction to Logic is "The Science of Correct Thinking" by Fr. Celestine Bittle, ISN: B000MHIJKY
McInerny lays out the basic building blocks of logic, quite simply. He dedicates a few pages to each basic argument, a useful form to expose the reader to logic, but lacking the depth of coverage if you really want to dig in deeply.
The author suggests that logic is a basic educational component missing from nearly all of our schools in modern society. I think he is right on. Given that, this book would be good for Logic 101.
Not only is it useful in evaluating other people's arguments, but in evaluating your own thoughts and preferences on various subjects.
What I particularly like was the author's emphasis on truth, and by extension, the need for honesty in our reasoning (even being honest with ourselves). This is the best (only?) way to reach a sound, logical conclusion.
I highly recommend getting this book.
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