This is a reference request. I'm looking for a modern, rigorous, and intelligently written introductory book on informal logical reasoning and critical thinking, aimed at a non-mathematical audience (think lawyers, the general educated reader).
Here is what I mean by these criteria:
- "modern": ideally but not necessarily written in the last 10 or 15 years; this rules out Stephen Toulmin's books, for example (his jargon, e.g. the particular meanings he attaches to "grounds" and "warrants," is outdated and idiosyncratic, and no one teaches Toulmin in any U.S. philosophy department)
- "rigorous": the book should be carefully and precisely written, ideally by someone with a PhD in philosophy or JD, at least someone familiar with the way arguments are analyzed in contemporary language; the book should also ideally include a list of references or recommended further reading
- "intelligently written": the prose of the book itself should be sophisticated and challenging, not written at a middle-school level; this rules out most of the dime-a-dozen textbooks on "informal logic" and "critical thinking" from publishers like Cengage
- "for a non-mathematical audience": the book should do little symbolic logic, only as much as is necessary to convey a feeling for logical form and deductive validity; it should entirely avoid the modern syntax, semantics, and proof systems of propositional and predicate logic; it should not give a tiresome enumeration of Aristotelian syllogisms; it should focus on analyzing arguments written in English prose without formalizing them symbolically, and with an eye to the distinction between rhetorical suggestion/conversational implicature and strict deductive implication
I have graduate-level training in philosophy and am surprised I cannot find a book that meets these criteria to use with students who don't need to learn any mathematical logic, so I'm hoping this forum can help! To simplify the statement of the problem: if you were stranded on a desert island, which one introductory book on reasoning would you wish you had with you? Of course this way of asking the question makes it subjective, but I hope it will rule out responses of truly second- or third-rate writing.
If you asked most mathematicians the same question regarding an introductory calculus book, a very large proportion would probably say Spivak's Calculus. I'm looking for the analog for basic reasoning. I'm afraid it might not exist.
Some books that come close to meeting these criteria deal, specifically, with fallacies. Here are a two I would consider rigorous and intelligently written:
- C. L. Hamblin, Fallacies (very sophisticated prose)
- S. Engel, With Good Reason: An Introduction to Informal Fallacies
But these are too specialized: they don't do enough, and the Hamblin is too old, even though it is a good example of what could qualify as "sophisticated prose."
Here are examples I think fail to meet some of these criteria:
- Irving Copi, Introduction to Logic
- David Kelley, The Art of Reasoning
Some books that are useful, but still not ideal:
- Armstrong and Fogelin, Understanding Arguments
- Munson and Black, The Elements of Reasoning
- Walton, Informal Logic (too long, too meandering)
I've had to settle by using the Armstrong and Munson, but I'm hoping there's something better.