Monday, October 1, 2012

Art of Argument

A couple posts back when I mentioned all we were doing for the year I think I forgot to add in The Art of Argument, an Introduction to the Informal Fallacies by Aaron Larsen and Joelle Hodge.  I'd actually been looking at this one for several years but was unwilling to pay the price.  (I was able to get it on clearance for $8!)  It was also one of these where they charge a whole bunch for the answer key because it's a whole book with the answers simply in bold in the blanks.  That type of teacher guide always irks me.  Honestly, I prefer adding 8-10 pages at the end of the regular text with the keys. But I digress...

Beyond my disappointment with the cost and format for the answer I am initially impressed with the content.

Let me start by saying I'm not a huge fan of the "terminology" of logic.  It simply seems to be pretentious while actually standing for common sense principles.  Maybe it's just me but that seems to be the case.

This first week we focused some introductory definitions, especially "non sequitur", which means does not follow.  Unfortunately, I had some real life examples last year in my life that could have been used as illustrations here.  I'm wondering if we could get this as required material for all homeschoolers?  I wish I could get everyone to understand this principle. 

The example the book used was that of "Senator Johnson" being under investigation for tax evasion.  He then submits a proposal for a new bridge.  It does not follow that his proposal is not acceptable because he's under investigation for tax evasion.  This fallacy is called "argumentum ad hominem" (see what I mean about fancy terms for simple principles), it just means argument to the man.  It abuses the man instead of the issue.

This book is going to be great stuff for life but also for helping the girls this year in debate.  We just have to be careful to not fall into the trap of throwing the terminology around like we see some debaters do.  We have to remember we are doing this and learning this to become better communicators not appear pretentious! 

We're probably not going to fit this in each and every week but as we can.  We may not even cover it in it's entirety but pick and chose what will be helpful to us.  That being said however, we enjoyed the first week and look forward to more communication analysis with Art of Argument!

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