Cover image for Informal logic : a handbook for critical argumentation
Informal logic : a handbook for critical argumentation
Walton, Douglas N.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1989.
Physical Description:
xiii, 292 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Subject Term:


Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
BC177 .W324 1989 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This is an introductory guide to the basic principles of constructing good arguments and criticizing bad ones. It is nontechnical in its approach, and is based on 150 key examples, each discussed and evaluated in clear, illustrative detail. The author explains how errors, fallacies, and other key failures of argument occur. He shows how correct uses of argument are based on sound argument strategies for reasoned persuasion and critical questions for responding. Among the many subjects covered are: techniques of posing, replying to, and criticizing questions, forms of valid argument, relevance, appeals to emotion, personal attack, uses and abuses of expert opinion, problems in deploying statistics, loaded terms, equivocation, and arguments from analogy.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

A fine book on informal logic, also known as "critical thinking." In the first chapter, the author, distinguishing between logical pragmatics and logical theory, characterizes "argument" as reasoned dialogue, identifies its various components, introduces some major informal fallacies, and discusses the critical perspective. Chapter 2 deals with questions and answers in dialogue, presuppositions of questions, and the fallacies of complex question and question-begging. Chapter 3 discusses the fallacy of irrelevance; presented here are varieties of irrelevance and their criticisms. Chapter 4 is a thorough treatment of the fallacy of appeal to pity. In Chapter 5, "Semantic Theory," Walton discusses validity, consistency, and standard versions of valid argument forms. Chapters 6 and 7 deal, respectively, with the fallacies of personal attack and appeal to authority. Chapter 8 is concerned with inductive errors, biases, and fallacies. Discussed here are statistical inference, sampling procedures, insufficient and biased statistics, and six kinds of post hoc errors. In the final chapter, Walton discusses ambiguity, vagueness, equivocation and arguments from analogy. The treatment of topics throughout is thorough and meticulous; fine analytic distinctions, a large number of real life illustrations, and clear writing enhance the value of the work. This is probably the best book on critical thinking to date. Up-to-date bibliography and useful index. Highly recommended as a text for courses in informal logic--critical thinking. R. Puligandla University of Toledo

Table of Contents

1 Argument as reasoned dialogue
2 Questions and answers in dialogue
3 Criticisms of irrelevance
4 Appeals to emotion
5 Valid arguments
6 Personal attack in argumentation
7 Appeals to authority
8 Inductive errors, bias, and fallacies
9 Natural language argumentation