The Art Of Thinking

By Martin Young, Ph. D


Sailing ship Spirit of Dana Point

The title for this text imitates the title of George Biddlecombe's The Art of Rigging, which deals exhaustively with the materials, tools and techniques necessary for proper rigging of a working sailing ship of the mid Nineteenth Century. While this present work is intended to come reasonably close to an exhaustive treatment of the concepts, rules and practices of logical thinking, it is also intended to make those concepts, rules and practices as easy to learn as possible. To that end, the style of this book is largely inspired by a small book called The Marlinspike Sailor by Hervey Garrett Smith, in which the tying of various knots, bends, and hitches is explained with clear, simple instructions and exquisitely detailed drawings. These instructions are so well illustrated, and so clear that practically anyone can teach themself to tie the most basic and useful knots, bends, and hitches. Similarly, it is my intention that this work be as effective in teaching logic as The Marlinspike Sailor is in teaching knots. Just as Smith starts his work with the most basic knots that are easiest to understand and learn, I have tried to begin with the the ideas and arguments that are easiest to understand and learn and then move on to progressively less easy topics, so as to not approach the most complicated, fundemental and difficult topics until after the reader has as much experience with easier topics as possible. Wherever a topic is built upon a simpler topic, the simple topic is treated first. The logic of simple generalizations is treated before the logic of correlations, explanation arguments are treated before scientific thinking, and physical analogies are discussed before logical analogies. Some important and tricky topics, such as relationships between arguments, burden of proof, and the difference between deductive and inductive logic are covered in small bites in several chapters, and I have done what I can to make the examples and exercises concerning these as easy as possible in the earlier chapters so that understanding of these critical topics can be built up gradually as the reader gains experience applying logical analysis to simple arguments, and then to progressively less simple arguments. Thus this work is intended to be pedagogically organized in that it is primarily designed to make the material as easy to learn as possible without worrying about arcane technical relationships between argument forms, and putting fundemental matters off until students are ready to understand them.

Please note that most of these chapters are in the process of being rewritten, thus the organization of each chapter varies. My goal is to bring every chapter up to the same standard as chapters two and three. I apologise for the fact that these readings are a little rough in places.

Chapter Links

  1. The Marlinspike Thinker: Basic Issues and Vocabulary
  2. Sampling Arguments
  3. Basic Argument Analysis
  4. Correlation Arguments
  5. Relevance
  6. Presumption
  7. Authority Arguments
  8. Burden of Proof
  9. Explanation Arguments
  10. Science
  11. Analogy Arguments
  12. Counter Argument by Analogy
  13. Deductive Logic

Other Links

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