Where Do You Go From Here?
Peter Suber, Philosophy Department, Earlham College

You loved informal logic and fallacy-detection, got good at it, and now wonder what to do next. Here are some possibilities.

  1. Practice. Make the clinical attitude habitual —when reading, writing, listening, and speaking, when scrutinizing your own arguments and those of others, when you are being graded and when only thing that matters is the wisdom of your decision.
  2. Study the psychology of reasoning. What temptations and difficulties commonly lead us to error and deception? How do people really make up their minds and change their opinions? Here are some good books to get you started.
    • Cialdini, Robert B. Influence: Science and Practice. HarperCollins, 3d ed., 1993.
    • Crawshay-Williams, Rupert. The Comforts of Unreason: A Study of the Motives Behind Irrational Thought. Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1947; reprinted, Greenwood Press, 1970.
    • Forrest, Peter. The Dynamics of Belief. Basil Blackwell, 1986.
    • K. Manktelow and D.E. Over (eds.). Rationality: Psychological and Philosophical Perspectives. Routledge, 1993.
    • Myers, Terry, Brendan McGonigle, and Keith Brown. Reasoning and Discourse Processes. Academic Press, 1986.
    • Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini. Inevitable Illusions: How Mistakes of Reason Rule Our Minds. John Wiley & Sons, 1994.
    • Restle, Frank. Psychology of Judgment and Choice: A Theoretical Essay. John Wiley & Sons, 1961.
    • Edward Stein. Without Good Reason: The Rationality Debate in Philosophy and Cognitive Science. Oxford University Press, 1996.
    • Wason, P.C., and P.N. Johnson-Laird. Psychology of Reasoning: Structure and Content. Harvard University Press, 1972.
  3. Study informal logic and informal fallacies from a more advanced point of view. Here are some good books to get you started.
    • Douglas Walton. Informal Logic: A Handbook for Critical Argumentation. Cambridge University Press, 1989.
    • Hans V. Hansen and Robert C. Pinto (eds.). Fallacies: Classical and Contemporary Readings. Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995.
  4. Study formal logic. For example, here are two of my own courses, each with a large number of hand-outs on the web.

This file is an electronic hand-out for the course, Real-World Reasoning.

Ribbon] Peter Suber, Department of Philosophy, Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana, 47374, U.S.A.
peters@earlham.edu. Copyright © 1998, Peter Suber.