How to Think Critically: A Concise Guide – Second Edition
  • Publication Date: August 18, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781554815333 / 1554815339
  • 294 pages; 6" x 9"

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How to Think Critically: A Concise Guide – Second Edition

  • Publication Date: August 18, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781554815333 / 1554815339
  • 294 pages; 6" x 9"

How to Think Critically begins with the premise that we are all, every day, engaged in critical thinking. But just as we may develop bad habits in daily life if we don’t scrutinize our practices, so are we apt to develop bad habits in critical thinking if we are careless in our reasoning. Readers are presented with a traditional step-by-step method for analysis that can be applied to all argument forms. Hundreds of exercises (with solutions) are included, as are several random statement generators that can be used to create thousands of additional examples. Truth tables, Venn diagrams, and other essential concepts are introduced not merely as objects for academic study but also as tools for better thinking and living. At a time when the value of critical thinking is recognized to be greater than ever, this book is an important resource both inside and outside the classroom.


How to Think Critically is an ideal book for introductory critical thinking courses. Jeff McLaughlin recognizes that the academic study of reasoning is new to most students and that it can prove to be daunting and difficult. He embraces the challenge of presenting philosophical concepts and methods to beginner audiences and succeeds in making the material accessible without compromising rigor and detail.” — Glen Baier, University of the Fraser Valley

Comments on the 1st Edition

“Jeff McLaughlin’s How to Think Critically covers all of the topics important for introductory courses in Critical Thinking, and it does so without bogging down the reader or instructor with extraneous material. The examples and illustrations will, I believe, resonate well with students, and, in particular, with students at Canadian universities. I look forward to using this text the next time I offer Critical Thinking.” — G.K.D. Crozier, Laurentian University

How to Think Critically is a very good text. It is clear and comprehensive and includes an abundance of examples. It provides a plausible and sensible take on arguments as they really do occur.” — Michael Stack, University of Manitoba

“McLaughlin’s book is clearly written and infused with an engaging sense of humour that sustains interest in a subject area that too often is presented in a dry and uninteresting fashion. McLaughlin uses pedagogically sound techniques and strategies to build competency and confidence in thinking critically.” — Jill Hunter, Athabasca University


Identifying Arguments and Non-Arguments

  • Introduction
  • 1.1 Arguments, Not Fights
  • 1.2 Critical Thinking and Reasoning
  • 1.3 Arguments vs. Unsupported Claims
  • 1.4 Premises and Conclusions: The Building Blocks of Arguments
  • 1.5 Identifying Statements and Arguments
  • 1.6 Postscript
  • 1.7 Chapter Exercises

The Use and Abuse of Language

  • Introduction
  • 2.1 Meaning, Denotation, and Connotation
  • 2.2 Defining Words
  • 2.3 Vagueness and Ambiguity
  • 2.4 Emotional Language and Prejudicial Language
  • 2.5 Scope and Conviction
  • 2.6 Postscript
  • 2.7 Chapter Exercises

Argument Structure and Assessment

  • Introduction
  • 3.1 Standardizing Arguments
  • 3.2 Editing Arguments
  • 3.3 Complex Arguments
  • 3.4 Postscript
  • 3.5 Chapter Exercises

Argument Evaluation

  • Introduction
  • 4.1 The S-Test
  • 4.2 Step 1: Satisfactory Premises
  • 4.3 Step 2: Supporting Premises
  • 4.4 Step 3: Sufficient Support
  • 4.5 Passing the S-Test
  • 4.6 Failing the S-Test
  • 4.7 Postscript
  • 4.8 Chapter Exercises

Argument Types

  • Introduction
  • 5.1 Deductive Arguments
  • 5.2 Inductive Arguments
  • 5.3 Arguments from Analogy
  • 5.4 Postscript
  • 5.5 Chapter Exercises


  • Introduction
  • 6.1 List of Fallacies
  • 6.2 Fallacies in Advertising
  • 6.3 Postscript
  • 6.4 Chapter Exercises

Categorical Logic

  • Introduction
  • 7.1 Categorical Logic and Categorical Statements
  • 7.2 The Square of Opposition
  • 7.3 Rules of Inference
  • 7.4 Depicting Categorical Statements Using Venn Diagrams
  • 7.5 Depicting Categorical Syllogisms Using Venn Diagrams
  • 7.6 Using Rules to Evaluate Categorical Syllogisms
  • 7.7 Missing/Implicit Statements in Categorical Syllogisms
  • 7.8 Postscript
  • 7.9 Chapter Exercises

Propositional Logic Using Truth Tables

  • Introduction
  • 8.1 Translating Propositions
  • 8.2 Basic Truth Tables for “And,” “Or,” “Not,” and “If, Then”
  • 8.3 Creating Long Truth Tables
  • 8.4 Creating Short Truth Tables
  • 8.5 Postscript
  • 8.6 Chapter Exercises

Critical Thinking Online

  • Introduction
  • 9.1 Misinformation and Disinformation
  • 9.2 Finding the Right Sources
  • 9.3 Tools and Tips
  • 9.4 When and Where to Argue Online
  • 9.5 Postscript
  • 9.6 Chapter Exercises

Glossary of Key Terms

Jeff McLaughlin is Professor of Philosophy at Thompson Rivers University.

  • • Numerous critical thinking topics are covered, including definitions, fallacies, argument structures, categorical logic, and propositional logic.
  • • A rigorous step-by-step method for argument analysis is presented and applied.
  • • Numerous examples and the author’s humorous tone enliven the book’s discussions.
  • • Unique “Statement Generators” are included, allowing for the creation of thousands of original statements that can be subjected to assessment.
  • • This second edition is thoroughly revised and includes a new chapter on how to think critically on the Internet.
  • • Additional exercises and PowerPoint slides are available for instructors.

This book is accompanied by an instructor resource site that hosts supplemental exercises and PowerPoint slides for each of the book’s chapters.

How to Think Critically is available as a digital courseware package on the Broadview Enhanced platform. This package combines the eBook with a set of auto-grading quizzes that integrate directly with your campus Learning Management System (LMS), such as Blackboard, D2L, or Moodle. This product is ideal for Inclusive Access and other First Day programs.

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