The Five Best Books on Critical Thinking

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This page contains a list of the best books on critical thinking. Just to be clear, there is no single best book on critical thinking. The best book for you will depend on your preferred learning style and the amount of time that you want to spend reading about critical thinking. An 800-page scholarly overview is unlikely to be best for someone looking for a short beginner-friendly introduction, for example. This list aims to take this ambiguity into account by featuring books that will appeal to a variety of learning styles.

Secondly, this is not a list of personal recommendations. It was created by compiling recommendations from a variety of online sources including bibliographies, course syllabi, and community recommendations. You can find out more about this process here. Links to the sources used to create this list are at the end of the post. Following these links will help you quickly find a wider range of options if the listed books do not fit what you are looking for.

Here are the best books on critical thinking in no particular order.

Giving Reasons: An Extremely Short Introduction to Critical Thinking – David R. Morrow

Category: Short Introduction | Length: 96 pages | Published: 2017

Publisher description: Giving Reasons prepares students to think independently, evaluate information, and reason clearly across disciplines. Accessible to students and effective for instructors, it provides plain-English exercises, helpful appendices, and a variety of online supplements.

Critical Thinking: A Concise Guide – Tracy Bowell & Gary Kemp

Category: General Introduction | Length: 289 pages | Published: 2014 (4e)

Publisher description: We are frequently confronted with arguments. Arguments are attempts to persuade us – to influence our beliefs and actions – by giving us reasons to believe this or that. Critical Thinking: A Concise Guide will equip students with the concepts and techniques used in the identification, analysis and assessment of arguments. Through precise and accessible discussion, this book provides the tools to become a successful critical thinker, one who can act and believe in accordance with good reasons, and who can articulate and make explicit those reasons.

Key topics discussed include:

  • core concepts in argumentation
  • how language can serve to obscure or conceal the real content of arguments; how to distinguish argumentation from rhetoric
  • how to avoid common confusions surrounding words such as ‘truth’, ‘knowledge’ and ‘opinion’
  • how to identify and evaluate the most common types of argument
  • how to distinguish good reasoning from bad in terms of deductive validly and induction.

This fourth edition has been revised and updated throughout, with a new introduction for each chapter and up-to-date topical examples. Particular revisions include: practical reasoning; understanding quantitative data, statistics, and the rhetoric used about them; scientific reasoning; the connection to formal logic and the logic of probability; conditionals; ambiguity; vagueness; slippery slope arguments; and arguments by analogy.

A Rulebook for Arguments – Anthony Weston

Category: Short Reference | Length: 118 pages | Published: 2018 (5e)

Publisher description: From academic writing to personal and public discourse, the need for good arguments and better ways of arguing is greater than ever before.

This timely fifth edition of A Rulebook for Arguments sharpens an already-classic text, adding updated examples and a new chapter on public debates that provides rules for the etiquette and ethics of sound public dialogue as well as clear and sound thinking in general.

Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric: The Use of Reason in Everyday Life – Nancy M. Cavender & Howard Kahane

Category: General Introduction | Length: 416 pages | Published: 2013 (12e)

Publisher description: This classic text has introduced tens of thousands of students to sound reasoning using a wealth of current, relevant, and stimulating examples all put together and explained in a witty and invigorating writing style. Long the choice of instructors who want to “keep students engaged,” LOGIC AND CONTEMPORARY RHETORIC: THE USE OF REASON IN EVERYDAY LIFE, Twelfth Edition, combines examples from television, newspapers, magazines, advertisements, and our nation’s political dialogue. The text not only brings the concepts to life for students but also puts critical-thinking skills into a context that students will retain and use throughout their lives.

Understanding Arguments: An Introduction to Informal Logic – Walter Sinnott-Armstrong  & Robert J. Fogelin

Category: Comprehensive Textbook | Length: 528 pages | Published: 2014 (9e)

Publisher description: UNDERSTANDING ARGUMENTS: AN INTRODUCTION TO INFORMAL LOGIC, 9E shows readers how to construct arguments in everyday life, using everyday language. In addition, this easy-to-read textbook also devotes three chapters to the formal aspects of logic including forms of argument, as well as propositional, categorical, and quantificational logic. Plus, this edition helps readers apply informal logic to legal, moral, scientific, religious, and philosophical scenarios, too.


The following sources were used to build this list:

University Course Syllabi:

Bibliographies:

Other Recommendations:

For more introductory philosophy resources and reading lists check out this collection of Resources and Reading Lists.

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