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Rational Episodes: Logic for the Intermittently Reasonableby Keith Parsons
Synopses & Reviews
Logic is the skill that enables humans to think clearly, accurately, and rigorously and so to draw only the inferences that the evidence warrants. Some people, like scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and computer programmers, get plenty of on-the-job practice in thinking logically. The rest of us generally dont.
In this accessible, concise yet comprehensive introduction to a sometimes-formidable subject, philosopher Keith Parsons presents elementary topics in logic for people who have little background in mathematics or science and have no career goals in those fields. Parsons presupposes no specialized background and strives to introduce even abstract concepts in an intuitive and unintimidating way. His informal, conversational style leads the reader painlessly, even entertainingly, through three essential areas of logic.
The first part of the book deals with sentential and predicate logic, as well as inductive and scientific reasoning, including inference to the best explanation. The second part explains basic probability, Bayes Theorem, and why thinking about probability is so prone to error and illusion. The third part considers informal reasoning and critical thinking, including such topics as rhetoric, fallacies, political spin, and the detection of pseudoscience and pseudohistory.
Why be logical? Even if youre a poet, an artist, or just a free spirit, logic can help you determine the facts behind the political propaganda, religious claims, advertising, and sales talk that we are all subjected to. As a logically literate person, you will be a better-informed citizen, wiser consumer, and a clearer thinker.
Book News Annotation:
Parsons (philosophy, U. of Houston-Clear Lake) presents a textbook for an introductory course in logic for a specific kind of student who turns up often in his own course. They major in some other humanity besides philosophy, are brighter than the average student, are more likely to fear mathematics than know much about it, and will probably never take another logic course. He introduces the symbolic logic most courses and texts emphasize, but also other areas of logic, such as sentential and predicate logic, probability and inductive logic, inference to the best explanation, and topics in informal logic such as fallacy detection and learning how to penetrate the fog of political rhetoric and spin. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
In this accessible, concise yet comprehensive introduction to a sometimes-formidable subject, Parsons presents elementary topics in logic for people who have little background in mathematics or science and have no career goals in those fields.
About the Author
Keith Parsons (Houston, TX), is professor of philosophy at the University of Houston, Clear Lake; the author of God and the Burden of Proof, among other books; and the editor of The Science Wars: Debating Scientific Knowledge and Technology.
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