The Art of Reasoning (David Kelley)

The Art of Reasoning: An Introduction to Logic and Critical Thinking (David Kelley)

A standard logic-oriented critical thinking text that is commonly used in introductory logic and critical thinking courses taught in philosophy departments. There's enough here for a two-term course, or you could pick a selection of topics for a one-term course.

Part One covers foundational principles that involve relationships between language and reasoning: the nature of definitions, propositions, argument analysis, and fallacies.

Part Two is a thorough introduction to symbolic logic: propositional logic, categorical logic, and predicate logic.

Part Three covers topics in inductive logic: reasoning about generalizations, arguments by analogy, statistical reasoning, explanations, and probability.

I used to teach courses like this, but over the years I began to appreciate how limited this perspective was, if our goal is really to teach critical thinking. The lack of any discussion of cognitive biases and the psychology of human judgment, or the rhetorical dimensions of human communication, renders this approach fundamentally incomplete, in my eyes.

But this type of text embodies the standard way of teaching critical thinking in philosophy departments. I couldn't do it anymore, so I started creating my own reading packages with selections from other perspectives on critical thinking (psychology, rhetoric, creativity, power and propaganda, etc.).

Of course, the reality of time constraints means that adding other perspectives forces you to cut or dilute sections from the standard textbook topics. There's always a trade-off between breadth and depth.

But the larger issue is the assumption that one can package all that is important to critical thinking into a single course. A two or three-course sequence would make more sense, if teaching the foundations of critical thinking is really your goal. But I've never encountered an undergraduate program that offered more than one critical thinking course within a single department.

That's one of the reasons why I created the Critical Thinker Academy -- to give people an exposure to a wider range of perspectives on how to improve our thinking and decision-making.