A logical fallacy is a misuse of reason, either on purpose or by mistake, in an argument. We see them everyday in commercial advertising, magazines, even our own thinking. Those who can find and identify fallacies are generally better able to guard against their use or effect, and can make more sound arguments of their own. The Art of Argument (a companion to The Argument Builder) teaches students how to be that kind of person. As An Introduction to the Informal Fallacies, this book is primarily a practical guide to the various ways logic and reason are commonly abused.
How Does This Work?
Designed for high schoolers, this course includes a consumable student text and a teacher's edition. The teacher's edition is basically an answer key, including answers to all in-text exercises, as well as tests and quizzes with answers. There isn't much teacher support material, but as the program works well as a student-directed course and as the text is clear, this shouldn't be too much of a problem. Also, this isn't formal logic, so you won't need to navigate extensive confusing technical explanations and definitions.
The student text is illustrated with amusing black and white pictures, but the emphasis is on the text. Authors Aaron Larsen and Joelle Hodge have managed to make it both instructive and entertaining, without sacrificing either clarity or content. Exercises include both short answers and essays, many of the essays being analyses of advertisements or excerpts in which students find the fallacies and discuss them. There are two units (fallacies of relevance, and fallacies of presumption and clarity) with a total of eight chapters. You can move through the material at any pace you choose, though it's best not to go too fast as there is a lot to learn; this would make an ideal one-year curriculum.
Like The Argument Builder, The Art of Argument is not formal logic. Practical application is stressed rather than terminology and "science." Informal logic isn't sub-par, it's simply an approach that sees putting logic to use as the superior goal. Many of the fallacies discussed in the text are also formal fallacies, but the technical aspect is glossed over and they are given their layman names (though the technical name is also included in most cases).
Our Honest Opinion:
This excellent text can be used in a couple of ways. Either it can serve as an introduction to a more formal logic study, or it can be used on its own (or, better still, with The Argument Builder) to give kids a good sense of reason and how to use it. There are a variety of formal logic texts available, though we would recommend using a contemporary course like those offered by Mars Hill or Canon Press as older texts sometimes use outmoded terminology.
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