Critical Thinking #2: “Logical Self Defense”, (Review)

(The 3rd edition of the book, by Johnson & Blair)

This book was published by two philosophy professors from the University of Windsor, in Windsor, ON, Canada.

While not directly related to law, the content can be applied to people involved in legal matters. In such cases, a person will try to make factual, logical, and well reasoned arguments while trying to refute the facts, logic, and reasoning of the other side. Being able to debunk an opponent, while preventing yourself from being debunked is a sign of a well put together case.

Of course, one trying to make an argument (or a legal case for that matter), may be lacking in facts, logic, or reasoning. In that case, there are 2 basic pathways: (#1) admit they have nothing; or (#2) try to debate using less than honest tactics. While (#1) does happen often, (#2) is by far the more frustrating one to deal with.

In a legal sense, (#2) will mean going to court/negotiation/arbitration knowing that you don’t have any basis for being there. It adds to time and expense of these proceedings. Happily though, dishonest argumentation can usually be defeated by having stronger arguments.

Here is the previous post on, and here is the original article. Here, Mr. Reed goes through the vast array of dishonest tactics used in debating.

As for the Johnson/Blair book, it goes through many types of arguments and statements. Various logical errors and gaps are explained, as is cause-and-effect. Many examples are shown of drawing conclusions where the available information is insufficient or irrelevant. By deconstructing those fallacious arguments, you will likely make far less of them in the future, in order to avoid the same thing from happening to you.

A Brief Outline of the book:
Chapters 1-2: Identifying and Constructing Arguments
Chapters 3-7: Fallacies
Chapters 8-9: Analyzing and Constructing Arguments
Chapter 10: News Media

On some level, the book is a rather dry read, as is the John T. Reed article. If this topic is not of interest to a person, there is nothing I can do to make it sound exciting. However, it picks apart many common errors, and goes through the errors. For someone looking to improve their reasoning and argumentation, it is a tedious, but worthy read.

The techniques shown here are not solely applicable to Canada or the United States. Being able to defend one’s self logically (hence the title), is a universally applicable skill. Defend yourself!

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