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Being Logical: A Guide to Good Thinking [Paperback]

D. Q. McInerny , Dennis Q. McInerny
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

10 May 2005
Whether regarded as a science, an art, or a skill–and it can properly be regarded as all three–logic is the basis of our ability to think, analyze, argue, and communicate. Indeed, logic goes to the very core of what we mean by human intelligence. In this concise, crisply readable book, distinguished professor D. Q. McInerny offers an indispensable guide to using logic to advantage in everyday life. Written explicitly for the layperson, McInerny’s Being Logical promises to take its place beside Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style as a classic of lucid, invaluable advice.

As McInerny notes, logic is a deep, wide, and wonderfully varied field, with a bearing on every aspect of our intellectual life. A mastery of logic begins with an understanding of right reasoning–and encompasses a grasp of the close kinship between logical thought and logical expression, a knowledge of the basic terms of argument, and a familiarity with the pitfalls of illogical thinking. Accordingly, McInerny structures his book in a series of brief, penetrating chapters that build on one another to form a unified and coherent introduction to clear and effective reasoning.

At the heart of the book is a brilliant consideration of argument–how an argument is founded and elaborated, how it differs from other forms of intellectual discourse, and how it critically embodies the elements of logic. McInerny teases out the subtleties and complexities of premises and conclusions, differentiates statements of fact from statements of value, and discusses the principles and uses of every major type of argument, from the syllogistic to the conditional. In addition, he provides an incisive look at illogical thinking and explains how to recognize and avoid the most common errors of logic.

Elegant, pithy, and precise, Being Logical breaks logic down to its essentials through clear analysis, accessible examples, and focused insights. Whether you are a student or a teacher, a professional sharpening your career skills or an amateur devoted to the fine points of thought and expression, you are sure to find this brief guide to effecting reasoning both fascinating and illuminating.


From the Hardcover edition.

Frequently Bought Together

Being Logical: A Guide to Good Thinking + Rulebook for Arguments + Winning Arguments: From Aristotle to Obama - Everything You Need to Know About the Art of Persuasion
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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade; Reprint edition (10 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812971159
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812971156
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 13.3 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 159,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Being logical presupposes our having a sensitivity to language and a knack for its effective use, for logic and language are inseparable. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
The book 'Elements of Style' by Struck and White is one of my favourite 'go-to' books on grammar, language use, and generally 'making sense'. Author D.Q. McInerny pays tribute to this earlier work by consciously emulating it in this book - 'Being Logical'. So much in our society is dependent upon reasoning and interpretation (much more than we might ever realistically think) and yet so often our reasoning is fault.
All dogs have four legs.
My cat has four legs.
Therefore, my cat is a dog.
This is the kind of reasoning that, when put in concrete examples such as this, makes little sense. But when it is applied to business, political, military and other types of situations, it becomes less clear, because the substance of the argument is less clear.
All military objectives require White House approval.
The education budget requires White House approval.
Therefore, the education budget is a military objective.
McInerny writes with good prose and good style in presenting in gentle and humourous form the elements of making sense. Being logical is about good communication, and this requires first and foremost clear, unambiguous and direct speech (given these criteria, I wonder why political speech often suffers from logic problems?).
McInerny develops a long section on argumentation - problems and situations about comparison, conditionals, moving from universals to particulars and vice versa, truth, value, fact, inductive and deductive argumentation and more. From this basic format (which really hinges on the simplest of platforms, that an argument contains a premise and a conclusion), McInerny proceeds to examining the sources and forms of illogical thinking (bad reasoning).
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All about reality 22 Mar 2012
By Sphex TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A superb guide to straight thinking by D. Q. McInerny, short enough for an afternoon's diversion, significant enough for its lessons to last a lifetime. I'm pretty sure that few of us as children wanted to be logical when we grew up. We wanted to be liked, loved, to have a laugh - but logical? Even sensible grownups rarely include being logical on their list of aspirations. McInerny's direct and clear style of writing, his avoidance of jargon and appeal to simple examples all combine to draw the reader into a subject that may seem a million miles away from everyday concerns. His first success is to remind us that logical thinking is a normal part of ordinary thinking, something we do all the time and even take for granted (until it goes wrong). He then sharpens our skills and deepens our appreciation of the subject. His greatest achievement, perhaps, is to show how being logical is a good thing in itself, an essential part of being human: the "art of logic is like no other, for it goes to the very core of what we are".

It's not only mathematicians or rocket scientists who need logic in their working lives, and it's not just in our working lives where logical thinking is important. McInerny suggests that "the first principles of logic" and "the first principles of human reason" amount to the same thing. Indeed, for much of the time being logical comes perfectly naturally. We don't need to read a book on critical thinking to know that if Jim is in London he cannot also be in Oxford. Most of us would easily recognize and reject a contradictory statement that claimed that Jim was both in London and in Oxford at the same time. Where a book like McInerny's is important and fascinating is in sketching out the bigger picture, showing the connections between several familiar ideas.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great little book 18 Jan 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book may not be long but don't let that deceive, what it lacks in size it makes up for in clarity. That is without a doubt one of, if not the outstanding feature of this book, its sheer clarity, whilst it takes a while to get used to the 'lingo' it uses once you do its easy to grasp what is being said.

The cynic might say that much of this book is 'common sense' and whilst that's true, its also true that 'common sense' is not always common. D.Q McInerny will not only show you how to express you ideas clearly and succinctly, how to avoid logical errors and how to spot those errors in others but most importantly he will show you how to think clearly.

This book will serve as a good introduction to logic for people from all walks of life but be warned after you've read it you'll never be able to think of arguments in the same way again!
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