How to Think Critically
A Concise Guide
  • Publication Date: August 8, 2014
  • ISBN: 9781554812165 / 155481216X
  • 208 pages; 6" x 9"

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How to Think Critically

A Concise Guide

  • Publication Date: August 8, 2014
  • ISBN: 9781554812165 / 155481216X
  • 208 pages; 6" x 9"

Jeff McLaughlin’s How to Think Critically begins with the premise that we are all, every day, engaged in critical thinking. But as we may develop bad habits in daily life if we don’t scrutinize our practices, so we are apt to develop bad habits in critical thinking if we are careless in our reasoning. This book exists to instill good thinking habits: attentiveness to word choice, avoidance of fallacies, and effective construction and assessment of arguments.

With relatable and often amusing examples included throughout, the book adopts a degree of technical sophistication that is rigorous and yet still easily applied to ordinary situations. 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 which can be used to create thousands of additional examples. Venn diagrams, truth tables, and other essential concepts are presented not as definitions for academic study but as tools for better thinking and living.


“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



Chapter 1: Identifying Arguments and Non-Arguments

  1. Introduction
  2. Arguments, Not Fights
  3. Critical Thinking and Reasoning
  4. Premises and Conclusions: The Building Blocks of Arguments
  5. Identifying Statements and Arguments
  6. Chapter Exercises
  7. Postscript

Chapter 2: The Use and Abuse of Language

  1. Meaning, Denotation, and Connotation
  2. Defining Words
  3. Vagueness and Ambiguity
  4. Emotion and Prejudice
  5. Scope and Conviction
  6. Incorrect Word Choices
  7. Chapter Exercises
  8. Postscript

Chapter 3: Argument Structure and Assessment

  1. Standardizing Arguments
  2. Editing Arguments
  3. Reconstructing Arguments
  4. Chapter Exercises
  5. Postscript

Chapter 4: Argument Evaluation

  1. Step 1: Satisfactory Premises
  2. Step 2: Supporting Premises
  3. Step 3: Sufficient Support
  4. Passing the S-Test
  5. Failing the S-Test
  6. Chapter Exercises
  7. Postscript

Chapter 5: Argument Types

  1. Deductive Arguments
  2. Inductive Arguments
  3. Arguments from Analogy
  4. Evaluating Deductive Arguments
  5. Evaluating Inductive Arguments
  6. Evaluating Arguments from Analogy
  7. Chapter Exercises
  8. Postscript

Chapter 6: Fallacies

  1. List of Fallacies
  2. Fallacies in Advertising
  3. Chapter Exercises
  4. Postscript


Chapter 7: Categorical Logic

  1. Categorical Logic and Categorical Statements
  2. The Square of Opposition
  3. Rules of Inference
  4. Depicting Categorical Statements Using Venn Diagrams
  5. Categorical Syllogisms
  6. Using Venn Diagrams to Evaluate Categorical Syllogisms
  7. Using Rules to Evaluate Categorical Syllogisms
  8. Chapter Exercises
  9. Postscript

Chapter 8: Propositional Logic Using Truth Tables

  1. Translating Statements
  2. Basic Truth Tables for “And,” “Or,” “Not,” and “If, Then”
  3. Creating Long Truth Tables
  4. Creating Short Truth Tables
  5. Chapter Exercises
  6. Postscript

Solutions to Chapter Exercises
Glossary of Key Terms

Jeff McLaughlin is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Thompson Rivers University.

The companion sites include content for both instructors and students.

The instructor site has multiple-choice review questions on each of the book’s chapters, which can be downloaded as Word files or in a digital format that can be uploaded to many Learning Management Systems (Blackboard, Moodle, etc.). An access code to the website is included with all examination copies.

The student companion site—as part of Broadview Online: Critical Thinking—features glossary flashcards, writing tips, and a curated selection of online readings addressing issues of interest to critical thinkers. An access code to the website is included with all new copies. If you purchased a used copy or are missing your passcode for this site, please click here to purchase a code online.

For a sample chapter of How to Think Critically, click here .(Opens as a PDF.)

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