Emory & Henry philosophy professor Dr. T Edward Damer has just published a newly-edited guide to help students refine their critical thinking and intellectual discussion skills with the seventh edition of Attacking Faulty Reasoning: A Practical Guide to Fallacy-Free Arguments.
The first edition of Attacking Faulty Reasoning was published in 1980 by a small academic press called Wadsworth Publishing Company. Thirty-two years later, the 7th edition was published by Cengage Learning, one of the largest publishers in the world. Throughout those years the book sold consistently throughout the United States, Canada and the rest of the world.
The first incarnation was simply a book describing the most familiar or frequently committed mistakes or fallacies in reasoning and provided specific suggestions about how to effectively address or “attack” those fallacies when they are encountered in conversations.
“My classroom experience in teaching hundreds of students about logical fallacies led me to write a second edition, which addressed those fallacies in the context of my own theory of fallacy, which identifies a fallacy as the violation of one of the five criteria of a good argument,” Damer stated.
This theory of fallacy, which was embedded and further refined in later editions, became Damer’s own scholarly contribution to the growing so-called “critical thinking movement” of the 80's and 90's, in that it used the notion of logical fallacy to understand the process and task of constructing good arguments.
In later editions, Damer developed and continued to refine what he calls “A Code of Intellectual Conduct” which he expressed in 12 principles of rational discussion. This code outlines an intellectual lifestyle based on the use of properly constructed and presented arguments which, if followed, can lead to the resolution of those difficult and controversial issues that divide us.
This text addresses more than 60 common fallacies with the help of over 200 memorable, timely examples. Students learn to construct, deliver, and logically evaluate arguments with more than 350 proven exercises and practice opportunities.
The seventh edition is not the same book as the first one, for each new edition has introduced significant changes and/or additions to the content of the text. The one constant throughout all seven editions is a focus on the definition and careful illustration of each of the 60 most frequently committed mistakes in reasoning along with effective ways to turn such bad arguments into good ones or at least to demonstrate clearly to the faulty arguer the character of his or her logical mistake.
Damer has been a speaker, consultant, and workshop leader for many years in the area of critical thinking. He has also served as President of the Virginia Philosophical Association. His administrative positions have included the chair of the Department of Philosophy, the chair of the Division of Humanities and the chair of the Division of Visual and Performing Arts.
He has received a number of teaching awards during his tenure at Emory & Henry, including the 1988 Virginia Professor of the Year and a Silver Medal Finalist in the National Professor of the Year Program by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.