Critical thinking is something we all do, often without realizing it. Just as begin speaking our native language long before we learn grammar, so, too, we think critically long before we realize that thinking also has a structure of language helps you communicate more effective, so, too, does examining the structure of critical thinking reach you both to skillfully challenge faulty arguments when they are presented, and to think through your own positions and defend them more effectively when they are attacked.
In How to Win Every Argument, a classic that has been revised and reprinted for over a generation, Nicholas Capaldi explains simply and clearly the principles behind critical thinking. With due regard to cultural and historical factors, he explains what the ideal structure of an argument is, how the ideal becomes a paradigm for critical thinking, and the various ways in which arguments can fail to exemplify this ideal structure. He provides guidance on how to use language cues in identifying an argument and its structure. And finally, he shows a wide variety of devices, both formal and informal, that can be used to buttress arguments and to call attention to their weakness.
But far from being a handbook on logic, How to Win Every Argument is a practical guide, written from the point of view of one who wishes to deceive, mislead, or manipulate others. On the assumption that “it takes one to know one,” the author believes that people are better able to detect the misuse or abuse of logic it they themselves are masters of the art of deception.
The vast majority of people in our nation believe themselves immune from such manipulation, whether it be by politicians, advertisers, lawyers, or the press. In fact, the vast majority hasn’t got the tools to recognize the fallacies being thrust before them as sound arguments every day of the week. How to Win Every Argument is an attempt to remedy this general shortcoming through clear example of the tricks used by truth-twisters everywhere. The result can only be to make you, the reader, stronger.