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Paperback 568 pp.
64 photos; 56 figures; 22 tables, 8" x 10"



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Imprint: OUP Canada

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The Power of Critical Thinking

Third Canadian Edition

Lewis Vaughn and Chris MacDonald

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 in and out of the classroom.

Readership : The Power of Critical Thinking serves as a core text for first- and second-year college and university students taking courses in critical thinking, critical reasoning, and informal and practical logic offered mainly through philosophy departments nationwide.


  • "This is a well-organized, informative, and engaging text that will interest students from different backgrounds and skill levels. . . . The examples used to support key points tend to be clear, relevant, full of Canadian content, and easy to follow."
    --Ron Weed, University of New Brunswick

  • "Accessible and entertaining, while easy to read and understand. . . . It is a flexible book that can be used many different ways."
    --Jeffrey Vancha, University of Regina

Part 1: Basics
1. The Power of Critical Thinking
Why It Matters
How It Works
- Claims and Reasons
- Reasons and Arguments
- Arguments in the Rough
2. The "Environment" of Critical Thinking
Perils of a Haunted Mind
- Am I Really Special?
- The Power of the Group
Perils of a Haunted Worldview
- Subjective Relativism
- Social Relativism
- Skepticism
3. Making Sense of Arguments
Argument Basics
Judging Arguments
Finding Missing Parts
Argument Patterns
Diagramming Arguments
Assessing Long Arguments
Part 2: 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
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
Part 3: Arguments
6. Deductive Reasoning: Categorical Logic
Statements and Classes
Translations and Standard Form
- Terms
- Quantifiers
Diagramming Categorical Statements
Sizing Up Categorical Syllogisms
7. Deductive Reasoning: Propositional Logic
Connectives and Truth Values
- Conjunction
- Disjunction
- Negation
- Conditional
Checking for Validity
- Simple Arguments
- Tricky Arguments
- Streamlined Evaluation
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
Part 4: Explanations
9. Inference to the Best Explanation
Explanations and Inference
Theories and Consistency
Theories and Criteria
- Testability
- Fruitfulness
- Scope
- Simplicity
- Conservatism
Telling Good Theories from Bad
- A Doomed Flight
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
11. Contexts of Application: Thinking Critically about Health, Law, and Ethics *NEW*
Thinking Critically About Health and Healthcare
- 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
Appendix A: Essays for Evaluation
Appendix B: Answers to Exercises

Instructor's Manual
- Chapter Objectives
- Chapter Summaries
- Solutions to In-text Exercises
- Answers to Self-grading Review Questions from Student Study Guide
PowerPoint Slides
- Over 600 slides
Test Generator
For each chapter:
- 120-140 questions
Student Study Guide
- Chapter Objectives
- Chapter Summaries
- Chapter Study Questions
- Study Guide Exercises (Short Answer and Essay Questions)
- Glossary
- Self-grading Review Questions (16 questions per chapter)
- Links to Online Resources
- Partial Answer Key to Textbook Exercises
E-Book (ISBN 9780199000746)
- Available through CourseSmart.com

Lewis Vaughn is an independent scholar and the author of several books.

Chris MacDonald is an associate professor at the Ted Rogers School of Business Management at Ryerson University.

Good Reasoning Matters! - Leo A. Groarke and Christopher W. Tindale
The Vocabulary of Critical Thinking - Phil Washburn
Creativity for Critical Thinkers - Anthony Weston and Byron Stoyles
The Voice of Reason - Burton F. Porter

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 help students hone their skills. Five modules on drafting a clear and concise analytical research papers as well as 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.
  • Comprehensive coverage of inference to the best explanation. Step-by-step instructions and plentiful examples show students how to assess theories and claims in science, pseudoscience, ethics, medicine, the media, popular culture, and many other arenas using this type of inference.
  • Extensive treatment of scientific reasoning. Chapters on inductive reasoning and causal arguments, scientific theories and inference, and scientific method and theory evaluation explore the applications of scientific reasoning to a wide range of questions.
  • 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.
New to this Edition
  • A new chapter on thinking critically about health, law, and ethics focuses on the application of critical-thinking skills to these key areas.
  • Reviewed by independent technical reviewers in order to ensure accuracy in all key concepts and exercises.
  • Revised Food for Thought boxes encourage students to realize the real-world benefits of critical analysis and offer valuable guidance on how to evaluate arguments from sources such as newspapers, Internet sites, and political speeches.
  • Updated exercises and activities-350 new exercises throughout. Field problems, review questions, self-assessment quizzes, and practical writing modules and assignments provide opportunities to practice analytical techniques.
  • Contemporary design. Vibrant and full-colour, the third Canadian edition has been fully redesigned and is sure to capture students' attention.