About the Book

Our writing of Reason in the Balance was motivated by the question: How can we teach critical thinking in such a way as to provide students with the understanding and skills to be able to apply argumentation in real life contexts? In our view, coming to a reasoned judgment on complex issues is at the heart of the kind of critical thinking actually takes place in the disciplines and in everyday life. Yet students tend to have very little understanding of how to go about these types of inquiries. Thus, unlike most texts in the area, which have as their central focus the analysis and critique of individual arguments, this text focuses more broadly on the practice of inquiry. By inquiry we intend critical inquiry, which simply is the process of carefully examining an issue in order to come to a reasoned judgment. The analysis and critique of particular arguments certainly have an important role to play and are given due emphasis in the text. However, the book goes beyond this dimension to focus on the various aspects that go into the practice of inquiry, including identifying issues, identifying the relevant contexts, understanding the competing cases, and making a comparative judgment among them.

Distinctive Features of the Text:
  • • emphasis on the dialectical dimension of critical thinking
  • • inclusion of inquiry in specific contexts
  • • attention to the dialogical aspects of inquiry
  • • emphasis on the spirit of inquiry

The Second Edition Features:
  • Updated examples and items of current interest
  • New dialogues on vaccination, prostitution, and climate change
  • New material on biases in reasoning, including emotional, psychological, social, and cognitive

The Reason in the Balance Website includes:
  • An Appendix on Logic
  • Exercises
  • Quizzes

Table of Contents:

Section I: The Nature of Inquiry
Chapter 1: The Nature and Value of Inquiry
Chapter 2: Introducing Guidelines for Inquiry

Section II: Arguments
Chapter 3: Argument Types and Structure
Chapter 4: Probative Arguments and Fallacies
Chapter 5: Key Argument Types
Chapter 6: Credible Sources and Appeals to Experts

Section III: Conducting an Inquiry
Chapter 7: Identifying the Issue
Chapter 8: Understanding the Case: Reasons and Context
Chapter 9: Evaluating the Arguments
Chapter 10: Making a Judgment and Making a Case
Chapter 11: Dialogue and the Spirit of Inquiry

Section IV: Inquiry in Specific Areas
Chapter 12:Inquiry in the Natural Sciences
Chapter 13:Inquiry in the Social Sciences
Chapter 14: Inquiry in the Arts
Chapter 15: Inquiry in Philosophy: Ethics
Chapter 16: Inquiry Into the Extraordinary

Click here to view a PDF of the complete Table of Contents 

To Order a deskcopy click here: Hackett Publishing