Chapter 12

Unlocking the Logic of Real Arguments

In This Chapter

arrow Picking out the key elements in everyday arguments

arrow Examining reasoning in detail

arrow Thinking about your listeners or readers

Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is the probable reason so few engage in it.

Henry Ford

Arguments lie at the heart of Critical Thinking (‘oh no they don't!’ you cry. ‘Oh yes they do!’ I reply. That's not an argument, by the way, just irritating contradiction!). Such arguments come in all sorts: hidden, irrational, polemical or whatever. But a difference exists between the ‘real-life’ informal arguments of everyday life — ones about real issues addressed to real people — as opposed to the neatly organised formal ones you often find presented in philosophy textbooks.

You encounter these ‘real’ arguments every day. On TV, politicians argue about policies, talent-show judges argue about ‘talent’ and two-dimensional characters argue in soap operas. In the pub, people argue about the relevant merits of their football teams (or even of different sports) and whose partner at home is ‘just the worst’. Often these everyday exchanges aren't arguments in the philosophical or logical sense; they're ...

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