Foundations of Rational Argument

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The main emphasis of this book is on the application of logic to ordinary language, on practice rather than theory. Although intended primarily as an academic textbook, the first half of the book is designed to be largely accessible to the non-specialist. Part I discusses how the precision of formal logic can be reconciled with the vagueness of natural language. Part II offers for assessment a selection of passages which constitute actual cases of drawing conclusions from premises in a variety of subjects. The procedure used in assessing them takes account of the need, not always recognized, indeed sometimes emphatically denied, for the logic critic to involve himself in the subject-matter of the argument. This meticulous analysis also makes it abundantly clear that what counts in practice as `well-argued' is, although faulty from the strictly formal point of view, nevertheless open to reconstruction as formally well-arguable. The question of logical, and often very practical, interest is what the proponent of the argument would have to add for the conclusion actually to follow. This book will sensitize the reader to logical `wool-pulling'. Guidance on the answers to selected exercises is given in an appendix.

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