Arguing to Better Conclusions
A Human Odyssey
Routledge – 2006 – 328 pages
This book was written to try to integrate various strands of concern about communication, language, and thinking. There are two related questions that have served to initiate the enquiries that resulted in this book: Why do people hold false beliefs? And why do they accept and use inadequate arguments in support of their beliefs?
The author has provided a clear conceptual framework to address these issues and in doing so he folds into the arguements the marvelous richness of language as a vehicle of communication.
Contents: Preface. Part I: Gaining a Sensible and Useful Conceptual Framework. Beliefs, Knowledge, Arguments, and Decisions. The Representational Status of Statements: True or False. Domains of Representation. Apparent Representation Only: Pragmatic Priorities. Combinations of Statements in Arguments. Formal Calculi in Beliefs and Arguments: Errors. Classifying Errors and Weaknesses in Arguments. Part II: Who Are the Victims of Mistaken Beliefs and Weak and Invalid Arguments and Why? Beliefs and Arguments in Action. Human Sources of Errors in Beliefs and Inadequacies in Argumentation. Gaining Competence in the Critical Evaluation of Beliefs and Arguments. La Condition Humaine in 21st-Century Quasi-Democracies. Postscript.