Leo A. Groarke, Christopher W. Tindalе, “Good Reasoning Matters! A Cognitive Approach to Critical Thinking”

Leo A. Groarke, Christopher W. Tindalе, “Good Reasoning Matters! A Cognitive Approach to Critical Thinking”The book Good Reasoning Matters! A Cognitive Approach to Critical Thinking was first published in 1989 by Oxford University Press. Next issues follow in 1997, 2004, 2008. The latest 5th edition was published in 2013 by Oxford University Press Canada. The two authors, Leo A.Groarke and Christopher W. Tindalе have included 13 parts plus Preface, three Appendices and an Index.

The 5th edition is expanded and contains a Glossary of the terms, which is a great aid for the students of argumentation.  There are also examples from current practices and the classical examples are combined with modernized tasks and exercises, which is a challenging and  attractive method of leading the learners to study the rhetorical terminology.

It is only natural to start with short profiles of the authors.

Leo A. Groarke is the Vice-President at the University of Windsor, Canada where he was appointed in 2010. He is a philosopher and his research fields extend to cover the fields of the history of ideas, social and political philosophy, informal logic and argumentation theory.  His academic training started at the University of Calgary and then followed Simon Fraser University, the University of Helsinki, and the University of Western Ontario. He received his PhD in 1982 г. His academic career is  active and dynamic, he was  professor of Philosophy at Wilfrid Laurier University, where he held a number of administrative positions: Chair of the Philosophy Department, Assistant Dean of Arts and Science, Dean of the Brantford Campus.

Leo Groarkeis the author of a long list of publications among which are Teaching History: The Future of the Past (2005), Can Capitalism Save Itself?  Some Ruminations on the End of Capitalism, 7thedition, New York, Prentice-Hall(2004) etc. In 2011 his book Logic, Informal was published digitally in Stanford World Wide Web Encyclopedia of Philosophy http://plato.stanford.edu.

Christopher W. Tindalе is also a philosopher. He received his PhD at the University in Waterloo.  He is currently teaching profess or of Greek philosophy, Argumentation theory and Moral Issues at the University of Windsor, Canada. His latest research project is related to  his constant interests in the areas of Greek philosophy, the theory of argumentation and philosophy, and is on the development a study of the Sophist Argument.

Christopher Tindalе is the author of the books Fallacies and Argument Appraisal (2007);  Rhetorical Argumentation (2004), Acts of Arguing: A Rhetorical Model of Argument (1999). He is also the editor of several digital books on CD-Rom: Dissensus and the Search for Common Ground (2007); Argumentation and Its Applications (2003), Argumentation & Rhetoric (1998) etc.

There are quite a number of advantages of Good Reasoning Matters! A Cognitive Approach to Critical Thinking”. The first group of advantages is related to the clear structure and precise balance of the separate parts of the book.  Each of the 13 parts bears a short, yet attractive and clear title that is easy to grasp at first glance. Each of them has a clear-cut structure beginning with introduction of the terms and defining the concepts, followed by explicitly developed theoretical theses, examples and brief summary of the essential aspects.

Another group of advantages are inbuilt in the general conceptual scheme of the book: traditional and current topics are outlined; a profound study of theory is displayed; definitions of the basic concepts are given; each part is illustrated in sufficient examples precisely and carefully chosen to help the understanding of the ideas of the authors.  Some of the theses are leading to a novel and creative approach to cognitive issues, and explicitly outline how to  write an argumentative essay (pp. 340-364), what argument and proof in science are (p. 258), what is the significance of scientific method and how  it is applied  (p. 259) etc.

A third group of advantages are related to the visual aspects of the book, where photos, adverts, caricatures, slogans, figures and diagrams are used in their illustrative, argumentative and educational functions.

The fourth group concerns the outlining and graphic presentation of the terms in each part so that they are easily grasped and brought to efficient further use.  Precise definitions are the next indisputable positive aspect of the book.

The fifth group of advantages is related to the glossary of 150 terms used in the broader fields of  logic, dialectics and rhetoric, e.g. ‘audience’, ‘opponent’ and ‘proponent’, ‘argument by analogy’, etc. As well as terms, which have been well-known to the rhetorical theories of late e.g. ‘visual arguments’, non-verbal metaphor, non-verbal demonstration etc.

In part 12, entitled Ethotic Schemes (pp. 307-340) the authors not only mention well-known arguments but they also give a systematic view of a broader number of arguments in the context of ethotic thinking. This is a detailed and extended contribution to the studies of rhetorical argumentation. Some basic ideas of our common rhetorical heritage are reconceptualized within the current contexts. Among them are  the arguments Ad Hominem and Pro Homine; Argument from Authority and Arguments against Authority; Appeal to Eyewitness Testimony, the arguments of Guilt (and Honor) by Association etc.

A further proof of the detailed study of argumentation is the parts Dressing Arguments, Argument Diagrams, Looking for the Facts, More Empirical Schemes and the Reasoning of Science etc., and the Appendices. The authors are evidently cutting deep into the matter of their studies and that gives them the advantage of applying an interesting approach to the reconceptualization and systematization of the ideas in a way that is indisputably creative against thousands of years of rhetorical heritage.

To conclude with, the 5th issue of the book Good Reasoning Matters! A Cognitive Approach to Critical Thinking is a contribution to modern rhetorical studies and it is a valuable aid for the university students of  philosophy, rhetoric, law, communication studies etc.

prof. Dr, DSc. Ivanka Mavrodieva, assos. prof. Dr Gergana Apostolova

Rhetoric and Communications E-journal, Issue 13, July 2012, rhetoric.bg/, ISSN 1314-4464

Read the original of the review (in English and Bulgarian)