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Paperback 560 pp.
58 photos; 58 figures; 24 tables, 8" x 10"



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Imprint: OUP Canada

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The Power of Critical Thinking

Canadian Edition, Fourth Edition

Chris MacDonald and Lewis Vaughn

This comprehensive and engaging introduction to the essential components of critical analysis uses a multidisciplinary approach to examine how psychological and social factors can impede clear thinking and lead to faulty reasoning. Emphasizing the importance of critical thinking to personal development and success, The Power of Critical Thinking provides students with the skills they need to engage meaningfully with the world around them - both inside and outside of the classroom.

Readership : Introductory courses in critical thinking, critical reasoning, or informal logic.


  • "[The authors] have struck the ideal balance between readability, conceptual depth, and comprehensiveness."
    --Antoine Goulem, Seneca College

  • "The 'field problems' are a nice touch. . . . I like that they encourage students to go out into the real world and apply the skills covered in the text."
    --Sam Hillier, University of Alberta

  • "I have looked at perhaps 15 to 20 other textbooks, and I always come back to Vaughn and MacDonald. . . . The textbook is very friendly and approachable."
    --Kelly Booth, Thompson Rivers University

From the Publisher
Part One: Basics
1. The Power of Critical Thinking
Why It Matters
How It Works
- Claims and Reasons
- Reasons and Arguments
- Arguments in the Rough
Field Problems
Self-Assessment Quiz
Critical Thinking and Writing Exercise
Writing Assignments
2. The "Environment" of Critical Thinking
Category 1: How We Think
- Am I Really Special?
- The Power of the Group
Category 2: What We Think
- Subjective Relativism
- Social Relativism
- Skepticism
Field Problems
Self-Assessment Quiz
Integrative Exercises
Critical Thinking and Writing Exercise
Writing Assignments
3. Making Sense of Arguments
Argument Basics
Judging Arguments
Finding Missing Parts
Argument Patterns
Diagramming Arguments
Assessing Long Arguments
Field Problems
Self-Assessment Quiz
Integrative Exercises
Critical Thinking and Writing Exercise
Writing Assignments
Part Two: Reasons
4. Reasons for Belief and Doubt
When Claims Conflict
Experts and Evidence
Personal Experience
- Impairment
- Expectation
- Innumeracy
Fooling Ourselves
- Resisting Contrary Evidence
- Looking for Confirming Evidence
- Preferring Available Evidence
Claims in the News
- Inside the News
- Sorting Out the News
Advertising and Persuasion
- Identification
- Slogans
- Misleading Comparisons
- Weasel Words
Field Problems
Self-Assessment Quiz
Integrative Exercises
Critical Thinking and Writing Exercise
Writing Assignments
5. Faulty Reasoning
Irrelevant Premises
- Genetic Fallacy
- Appeal to the Person
- Composition
- Division
- Equivocation
- Appeal to Popularity
- Appeal to Tradition
- Appeal to Ignorance
- Appeal to Emotion
- Red Herring
- Straw Man
Unacceptable Premises
- Begging the Question
- False Dilemma
- Slippery Slope
- Hasty Generalization
- Faulty Analogy
Field Problems
Self-Assessment Quiz
Integrative Exercises
Critical Thinking and Writing Exercise
Writing Assignments
Part Three: Arguments
6. Deductive Reasoning: Categorical Logic
Statements and Classes
Translations and Standard Form
- Terms
- Quantifiers
Diagramming Categorical Statements
Sizing Up Categorical Syllogisms
Field Problems
Self-Assessment Quiz
Integrative Exercises
Writing Assignments
7. Deductive Reasoning: Propositional Logic
Connectives and Truth Values
- Conjunction
- Disjunction
- Negation
- Conditional
Checking for Validity
- Simple Arguments
- Tricky Arguments
- Streamlined Evaluation
Field Problems
Self-Assessment Quiz
Integrative Exercises
Writing Assignments
8. Inductive Reasoning
Enumerative Induction
- Sample Size
- Representativeness
- Opinion Polls
Statistical Syllogisms
- Evaluating Statistical Syllogisms
Analogical Induction
- Relevant Similarities
- Relevant Dissimilarities
- The Number of Instances Compared
- Diversity among Cases
Causal Arguments
- Testing for Causes
- Causal Confusions
- Confusing Cause with Temporal Order
- Necessary and Sufficient Conditions
Mixed Arguments
Field Problems
Self-Assessment Quiz
Integrative Exercises
Writing Assignments
Part Four: Explanations
9. Inference to the Best Explanation
Explanations and Inference
- Abductive Reasoning
Theories and Consistency
Theories and Criteria
- Testability
- Fruitfulness
- Scope
- Simplicity
- Conservatism
Telling Good Theories from Bad
- A Doomed Flight
Field Problems
Self-Assessment Quiz
Integrative Exercises
Writing Assignments
10. Judging Scientific Theories
Science and Not Science
The Scientific Method
Testing Scientific Theories
Judging Scientific Theories
- Copernicus versus Ptolemy
- Evolution versus Creationism
Science and Weird Theories
Making Weird Mistakes
- Leaping to the Weirdest Theory
Mixing What Seems with What Is
- Misunderstanding the Possibilities
Judging Weird Theories
- Talking with the Dead
Field Problems
Self-Assessment Quiz
Integrative Exercises
Writing Assignments
11. Contexts of Application: Thinking Critically About Health, Law, and Ethics
Thinking Critically about Health and Health Care
- Key Skills
- Evaluating Health Claims in the News
- Finding and Evaluating Expert Advice
- Stumbling Blocks
Thinking Critically about the Law
- Key Skills
- Stumbling Blocks
Thinking Critically about Ethics
- Key Skills
- Stumbling Blocks
Field Problems
Self-Assessment Quiz
Writing Assignments
Appendix A: Essays for Evaluation
Appendix B: Answers to Select Exercises

Instructor's Manual
- Chapter objectives
- Chapter summaries
- Solutions to in-text exercises
- Answers to self-grading review questions from the Student Study Guide
PowerPoint Slides
- Over 600 slides
- Includes all images, figures, and tables from the text
Test Generator
For each chapter:
- 30-40 multiple choice questions
- 35-40 true-or-false questions
- 35-40 short answer questions
Student Study Guide
- Chapter objectives
- Chapter summaries
- Chapter study questions
- Study Guide exercises: short answer and essay questions
- Glossary
- Self-grading quizzes (35-40 questions per chapter)
- Links to online resources
- Partial answer key to textbook exercises
E-Book (ISBN 9780199018697)

Chris MacDonald is an associate professor at the Ted Rogers School of Business Management and the director of the Jim Pattison Ethical Leadership Program. He has published extensively in areas such as business ethics, bioethics, health care ethics, ethics and technology, and moral theory.

Lewis Vaughn is an independent scholar and the author of several books, including Writing Philosophy: A Guide for Canadian Students.

Writing Philosophy - Lewis Vaughn and Jillian Scott McIntosh
Good Reasoning Matters! - Leo A. Groarke and Christopher W. Tindale
Creativity for Critical Thinkers - Anthony Weston and Byron Stoyles
Critical Thinking - Andrew Lawless

Special Features

  • An engaging student-friendly tone helps readers grasp complex concepts without sacrificing accuracy and philosophical rigour.
  • Step-by-step guidelines allow students to work through processes such as evaluating claims, arguments, and explanations methodically and effectively.
  • References to Canadian places, persons, political events, and current debates place key concepts in a familiar context.
  • Writing modules and samples--consisting of five modules on drafting clear and concise analytical research papers and ten full-length essays--offer guidelines and examples that students can apply to their own work.
  • Over 1300 exercises drawn from a wide range of sources, with selected answers at the back of the book, give students the practice they require to become confident critical thinkers.
  • Emphasis on evaluation of evidence, authority, and credibility provides the critical tools required to assess the evidence and claims offered by experts, science, the news media, and personal experience.
  • Across-the-curriculum approach helps students apply principles to a broad spectrum of subjects and real-world contexts through current interdisciplinary examples, exercises, and discussions.
  • Vetted by independent technical reviewers in order to ensure accuracy in all key concepts and exercises.
  • Comprehensive coverage of inference to the best explanation (Ch. 9) with step-by-step instructions and plentiful examples show students how to assess theories and claims in science, ethics, the media, popular culture, and many other arenas using this type of inference.
  • Extensive treatment of scientific reasoning presented in chapters on inductive reasoning and causal arguments (Ch. 8), inference (Ch. 9), and judging scientific theories (Ch. 10) explore the applications of scientific reasoning to a wide range of questions.
  • Contemporary vibrant, full-colour design is sure to engage students with the topics under discussion.
  • Engaging pedagogy gets students involved and helps them develop a deep understanding of key concepts.
  • --End-of-chapter Field Problems--including NEW problems added to this edition--encourage students to realize the real-world benefits of critical analysis and asks them to evaluate arguments from sources such as newspapers, Internet sites, and political speeches.
  • --Self-Assessment Quizzes at the end of chapters allow students to check their comprehension of key concepts.
  • --Integrative Exercises at the end of each chapter ask students to apply knowledge from multiple chapters.
  • --Food for Thought boxes provide examples of how critical thinking applies to real-world arguments and perspectives.
New to this Edition
  • Everyday Problems and Decisions boxes allow students to apply their critical thinking skills to real-world problems.
  • New and updated exercises throughout draw on contemporary culture, politics, and media for examples--including Canadian examples--to help students identify the essentials of a good argument. All questions have been thoroughly revised for clarity, precision, and accuracy.
  • Marginal glossary helps reinforce key concepts for student learning.
  • Expanded ancillaries include an Instructor's Manual with answers and new exercises, an expanded Test Generator, and a Student Study Guide, which includes self-grading and self-correcting quizzes.
  • Over 30 new images and figures throughout the text.