Higher Education

Cengage Advantage Books: Understanding Arguments: An Introduction to Informal Logic, 8th Edition

  • Walter Sinnott-Armstrong Duke University
  • Robert J. Fogelin Dartmouth College
  • ISBN-10: 0495603953  |  ISBN-13: 9780495603955
  • 576 Pages
  • Previous Editions: 2005, 2001, 1997
  • © 2010 | Published
  • College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $100.50
  • Newer Edition Available
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Now in its Eighth Edition, UNDERSTANDING ARGUMENTS: AN INTRODUCTION TO INFORMAL LOGIC, 8th Edition. has proven itself to be an exceptional guide to understanding and constructing arguments in the context of students' academic studies as well as their subsequent professional careers. Its tried and true strengths include multiple approaches to the analysis of arguments; a thorough grounding on the uses of language in everyday discourse; and chapters in the latter half of the book that apply abstract concepts to concrete legal, moral, and scientific issues.

Features and Benefits

  • New readings on intelligent design and the existence of God have been included.
  • Exercises, discussion questions, chapter objectives, and readings are drawn from a variety of disciplines and genres to test analytical skills.
  • Primarily an introduction to informal logic, the book devotes three chapters to formal logic, covering the rudiments of propositional, categorical, and quantificational logic, as well as forms of argument (such as inference to the best explanation) that other texts overlook.
  • Its lively, clear style with a touch of humor, plus extensive, real examples and exercises, which include full-length texts in Part V, make this text interesting and accessible to students.
  • Detailed applications to legal, moral, scientific, religious, and philosophical arguments help students understand argument in the context of a wide variety of subjects.
  • The text offers a unified theory of the nature of argument and of language, emphasizing pragmatics.

Table of Contents

1. Uses of Argument.
What Arguments Are. Justifications. Explanations. Combinations: An Example.
2.The Web of Language.
Language and Convention. Linguistic Acts. Speech Acts. Conversational Acts. Summary.
3. The Language of Argument.
Argument Markers. If…then… Arguments in Standard Form. Some Standards for Evaluating Arguments. A Problem and Some Solutions. Evaluative Language.
4. The Art of Close Analysis.
An Extended Example.
5. Deep Analysis.
Getting Down to Basics. Clarifying Crucial Terms. Dissecting the Argument. Arranging Sub-Arguments. Suppressed Premises. Digging Deeper. An Example of Deep Analysis: Capital Punishment.
6. Propositional Logic.
The Formal Analysis of Arguments. Basic Propositional Connectives. Conditionals.
7. Categorical Logic.
Beyond Propositional Logic. Categorical Propositions. The Four Basic Categorical Forms. Validity for Categorical Arguments
Appendix: The Classical Theory.
8. Arguments To and From Generalizations.
Induction versus Deduction. Statistical Generalizations. Statistical Applications.
9. Casual Reasoning.
Reasoning about Causes. Concomitant Variation.
10. Inference to the Best Explanation and from Analogy.
Inferences to the Best Explanation. Arguments from Analogy.
11. Chances.
Some Fallacies of Probability. The Language of Probability. A Priori Probability. Some Laws of Probability. Bayes' Theorem.
12. Choices.
Expected Monetary Value. Expected Overall Value. Decisions Under Ignorance.
13. Fallacies of Vagueness.
Uses of Unclarity. Vagueness. Heaps. Slippery Slopes.
14. Fallacies of Ambiguity.
Ambiguity. Equivocation. Definitions.
15. Fallacies of Relevance and Vacuity.
16. Fallacies of Vacuity.
Circularity. Begging the Question. Self-Sealers.
17. Refutation.
What is Refutation?
18. Legal Reasoning.
Components of Legal Reasoning. The Law of Discrimination. Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. Grutter v. Bollinger. Gratz v. Bollinger.
19. Moral Reasoning.
Moral Disagreements. The Problem of Abortion. Analogical Reasoning in Ethics.
Weighing Factors. "A Defense of Abortion," by Judith Jarvis Thomson. "Why Abortion is Immoral," by Don Marquis.
20. Scientific Reasoning.
Standard Science. Scientific Revolutions. "Molecular Machines: Experimental Support for the Design Inference," by Michael J. Bebe. "Living with Darwin," by Peter Kitcher.
21. Religious Reasoning.
"Five Reasons to Believe in God," by William Lane Craig. "Seven Deadly Objectives to Belief in the Christian God," by Edwin Curley.
22. Philosophical Reasoning.
"Computing Machinery and Intelligence," by A.M. Turing. "The Myth of the Computer," by John R. Searle.

What's New

  • The text has been extensively reorganized and streamlined, making this edition more accessible and affordable for all students. The text is now divided into 5 parts and some chapters have been split to make shorter, more manageable chapters.
  • A new Chapter One addresses the purpose of argument and real-life examples (such as Colin Powell's speech at the UN arguing that Iraq was seeking weapons of mass destruction).
  • A new chapter including additional fallacies has been added.
  • New examples and references include jokes from popular comedians, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.


All supplements have been updated in coordination with the main title. Select the main title's "About" tab, then select "What's New" for updates specific to title's edition.

For more information about these supplements, or to obtain them, contact your Learning Consultant.

Instructor Supplements

eBank Instructor's Manual  (ISBN-10: 049560397X | ISBN-13: 9780495603979)

Offers explanations of the discussion questions and exercises in the textbook, as well as supplementary exercises, classroom-tested examinations with answers, and general suggestions for using the text.

Meet the Author

Author Bio

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong is Chauncey Stillman Professor of Practical Ethics in the Department of Philosophy and the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University.

Robert J. Fogelin

Robert J. Fogelin is Professor of Philosophy and Sherman Fairchild Professor in the Humanities at Dartmouth College.