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Thinking Socratically


Thinking Socratically Cover


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Critical Thinking Skills in Everyday Context — The Socrates Model


Thinking Socratically is a treatment of critical thinking, rather than an informal logic textbook. It emphasizes a philosophical reflection on real issues from everyday life, in order to teach students the skills of critical thinking in a commonplace context that is easy to understand and certain to be remembered.


Teaching and Learning Experience


Personalize Learning - MySearchLabdelivers proven results in helping students succeed, provides engaging experiences that personalize learning, and comes from a trusted partner with educational expertise and a deep commitment to helping students and instructors achieve their goals.


Improve Critical Thinking - Thinking Socratically contextualizes the presentation of critical thinking topics through easy-to-understand information, and shows, rather than just tells, students how to be critical thinkers by encouraging them to follow Socrates as a model.


Engage StudentsThinking Socratically exposes students to a variety of readings listed after expository material, Venn diagrams, chapter-end summaries, etc. — in order to outline important concepts and learning tools needed for useful reasoning.


Support Instructors - Teaching your course just got easier!  You can create a Customized Text or use our Instructor’s Manual, or PowerPoint Presentation Slides.  Plus, Thinking Socratically is organized around topics for ease of assignments, and uses standard terminology to eliminate student confusion.



Note: MySearchLab does not come automatically packaged with this text. To purchase MySearchLab, please visit or you can purchase a valuepack of the text + MySearchLab (VP ISBN-10: 0205179312, VP ISBN-13: 9780205179312).

About the Author

Dear Colleagues,


When we first started teaching critical thinking over twenty-five years ago the available textbooks fell into two camps: some were simplified "introduction to logic" texts, while others were little more than rhetoric handbooks fortified with a section on informal fallacies. The first group offered models for critical thinking but provided no material to think critically about. The second analyzed devious ways of persuasion used in everything from advertising to politics. We soon began constructing our own materials for critical thinking, using the stories, news events, and issues that our students encountered in their daily lives. We believed then, and we believe now, that students need to learn critical thinking skills in a variety of contexts and from actual instances, not from concocted textbook examples.


Our approach to critical thinking also has a strong philosophical underpinning. This helps students understand how their own beliefs are formed and how they fit together into webs of belief and ultimately into a view of the world which is shaped by their experience and which shapes their experience. Having this philosophical understanding helps them to monitor their own critical thinking in a new way, and it helps them to understand why we sometimes have arguments with each other. All of this points to our definition of critical thinking which is open rational dialogue with our friends – and with ourselves.


We include the usual topics found in critical thinking texts such as deductive and inductive reasoning and the fallacies, but we also present critical thinking as anchored in a much broader philosophical context. Thus we include excerpts from Plato, Descartes, and Kant, among others. Moreover, we show how critical thinking applies in such diverse disciplines as history and science. Finally, we conclude Thinking Socratically with a whole section on ethics because, like Socrates, we think critical thinking can help people be better people, not just better critical thinkers.


We have found that students at every level enjoy and benefit from Thinking Socratically. It has been used around the country by students from the undergraduate to the graduate level.

Even teachers in K-12 programs have used earlier editions to teach themselves how to teach critical thinking to their pre-college students. We hope that you will consider using this text if you are not using it already.


Please do not hesitate to contact us at Cabrini College with your comments, questions, and suggestions. We began this text with the desire to make our students better critical thinkers and that is still our goal – to make students everywhere more able to use critical thinking skills in their everyday lives. Our email addresses are sschwarze@cabrini.eud and




Sharon Schwarze and Harvey Lape


Cabrini College

Table of Contents







1. Why Be Rational?

2. Language.

3. Knowledge and Certainty.

4. Arguments and Explanations.



5. Deductive Links.
6. Deductive Standards.


7. Supporting Our Claims.

8. Standards of Inductive Reasoning.

9. Fallacies.

10. Scientific Reasoning.
11. Pseudoscience.



     12. The Nature of Morality.

     13. Reasoning About Good and Bad.

     14. Moral Dialogue.

     15. Reason and Commitment.






1. Why Be Rational?

READINGS: Plato, Euthyphro. Isaac Bashevis Singer, Why the Geese Shrieked. Alan Riding, The Shaman and the Dying Scientist: A Brazilian Tale.

2. Language.

READINGS: Lewis Thomas, The Corner of the Eye. Stephen Jay Gould, Eight Little Piggies. Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans.

3. Knowledge and Certainty.

READINGS: René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy. Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time. Michael Dobbs, Double Identity.

4. Arguments and Explanations.

READINGS: Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron: Michele Scalza, The Decameron: Melchizedek. Linda Herskowitz, The Day-Care Deaths: A Mystery.


5. Deductive Links.

READINGS: Thurgood Marshall, Dissenting Opinion in Gregg v. Georgia.

6. Deductive Standards.

READINGS: Norman Malcolm, Anselm's Ontological Argument.


7. Supporting Our Claims.

READINGS: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier. Mike Mallowe, Murder on the Main Line. Emilie Lounsberry and Henry Goldman, The Jury: Convinced or Confused? Emilie Lounsberry, Bradfield, on Stand, Denies Any Role. Henry Goldman, Bradfield and Women. David W. Belin, The Warren Commission: Why We Still Don't Believe It. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Conclusion to “The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier”.

8. Standards of Inductive Reasoning.

READINGS: Cynthia Clendenon, Doctors as Detectives. The Literary Digest Predicts Victory by Landon, 1936. Mark K. Anderson, Thy Countenance Shakes Spears. Denise Grady, So Smoking Causes Cancer: This Is News? Hilary Putnam, Renewing Philosophy.

9. Fallacies.

Russell Baker, Lost Genius. Max Shulman, Love Is a Fallacy. The Sleaze Merchants Attack, (an editorial).

10. Scientific Reasoning.

READINGS: Morris Kline, The Heliocentric Theory of Copernicus and Kepler.

11. Pseudoscience.

READINGS: Martin Gardner, Fliess, Freud, and Biorhythm.


12. The Nature of Morality.

READINGS: Feodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov.

13. Reasoning About Good and Bad.

READINGS: Immanuel Kant, Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals. Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism Is a Humanism.

14. Moral Dialogue.

READINGS: Plato, Euthyphro (excerpt).

15. Reason and Commitment.

READINGS: Jane Smiley, Keynote Speech May 18 at Simpson College's 1996 Commencement.


Product Details

Schwarze, Sharon
Lape, Harvey
General Philosophy
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
9 x 6 x 0.5 in 227 gr

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Humanities » Philosophy » Logic
Reference » Research
Religion » Comparative Religion » General
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