Being Logical: A Guide to Good Thinking by D. Q. McInerny is an excellent choice for an introduction to logic. There are a number of reasons why this makes a great first text. First, it is written plainly. The student is introduced to logical ideas without being bogged down by jargon or cumbersome technical language. Second, the ideas flow smoothly and naturally from the basic to the complex. The ascent is steady and gradual and it just makes sense; it doesn’t “drop” the reader when introducing new concepts. Third, its small size (160 pages) is just right for an introductory text. It is a very manageable, light, and readable text.
McInerny organizes the book into five parts: 1) Preparing the Mind for Logic; 2) The Basic Principles of Logic; 3) Argument: The Language of Logic; 4) The Sources of Illogical Thinking; and 5) The Principal Forms of Illogical Thinking. Each part has a number of mini-chapters dealing with its particular elements. This makes the initial reading feel “bite-sized,” and the subsequence scans and reviews quick and helpful.
The content is straightforward: the standard foundations of logic. At the risk of overemphasis, however, the presentation and flow of the content really makes this outstanding. Part four introduces an element of critical thinking, and perhaps introspection, as it deals with the sources of illogical thinking. The author’s list includes skepticism, evasive agnosticism, cynicism, naïve optimism, narrow-mindedness, and emotion. Part five is a standard treatment of logical fallacies, beginning with formal fallacies, then on to informal fallacies.
Although small and simple, Being Logical: A Guide to Good Thinking is this reviewer’s first recommendation for an introduction to logic.
Saturday, May 09, 2009
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