This textbook is written for upper-level undergraduate students who have completed at least one prior course in argumentation theory, critical thinking, informal logic, formal logic, or some other related discipline. Part One develops a theory of argument interpretation and evaluation, according to which arguments are viewed as instruments of rational persuasion. Part Two explores how different patterns of evidential support can be identified within a body of information that has been employed argumentatively to secure rational belief.
By devoting two weeks to each chapter, the entire text can be covered, at a reasonable pace, within a single semester. There are 400 exercises within this text. Students who attempt a significant number of these exercises will be rewarded with a substantially deeper understanding of the theory and practice of argumentation.
I am grateful to two anonymous readers, commissioned by Cambridge University Press, for their favorable reviews of a manuscript entitled Normal Arguments.
Lyrics from “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” by James Steinman are reproduced in Exercise 4.68(b) on page 220 by permission of the Edward B. Marks Music Company – © 1977.
Most of the material within this text was first explored, in a classroom setting, in conversation with the exceptionally talented students enrolled in McMaster University's Arts and Science program. I thank these kind souls for their insight, their enthusiasm, and their unparalleled magnanimity. They have shaped my thoughts in ways that, I am sure, lie far beyond my comprehension.