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Recommendations for Introductory Books on Logic

logic

Yesterday, I went to Amazon to look for books on introductory logic. My understanding of formal logic is quite piecemeal, so I thought I would try to educate myself on the subject. Imagine my surprise when I found out that many of the books listed on the first page at Amazon were written by Evangelical authors. Or they were expensive college textbooks. Bummer, right?

While it is possible for Evangelical authors to give an overview of logic, forgive me for not wanting to give my money to Fundamentalist creationist Jason Lisle and other Evangelical authors. When Tim Challies is recommending a book or an Evangelical homeschooling leader thinks a book is essential for students, I am not inclined to buy such books.

So, I thought I would turn to the readers of this blog and ask for logic book recommendations. I am NOT looking for heavy tomes. I want books I can read and understand, and then pass off to my wife or children when I am done.

Please leave your suggestions in the comment section; that is if I have any logical readers. 🙂

Thank you for your help.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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12 Comments

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      I’m more interested in philosophical logic, good tools for argumentation in my writing. While I know a good bit about logic, there are gaps in my understanding. I’m looking for a primer that will help me better understand logic and its proper uses.

      Thanks, Stuart!

  1. Avatar
    Bob Felton

    I’ve never had a formal course in logic, but an engineering education entails a lot of mathematics; you get trained to the habit of logical thought without studying logic per se.

    Since my interests turned toward philosophy about 12-years ago, I’ve picked-up the logic texts by Kant, Russell, and Dewey, and found all of them unreadable. They’re very formal, and there is lots of math-like, but not math, notation. About all I got out of them is that there are propositions in logic that are not fixed, final, settled; I had supposed that logic goes, always, toward a single correct, inescapable solution. Whoops.

    I have read “Logic: A Very Short Introduction” by Graham Priest. I found it accessible, but your mileage may vary. It’s available used, shipping included, from AbeBooks.com for under $5.

  2. Avatar
    GeoffT

    My introduction to the word logic was via CS Lewis and his Narnia books. He contrives to bring his so-called logic argument for Jesus of ‘fool, liar, or genuine’, into ‘the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe’, by arguing that Lucy, who has been to Narnia through the wardrobe, is maybe telling the truth. He bemoans the fact that they ‘don’t teach logic at schools these days’, ignoring the fact that the other children have every right to be sceptical as to Lucy’s story. I loved the Narnia books as a kid, but now I regard Lewis as a deluded fool. His approach to logic was exactly the opposite of what it should have been, which is genuine enquiry.

    Sorry, I’ve nothing to help with logic books, though the Shermer recommendation above is probably sound, as Shermer is very well respected. You may care to read Jonathan MS Pearce’s Tippling Philosophy blog across at Patheos (I know you know Jonathan, albeit virtually!). He doesn’t write specifically on logic but his articles inevitably veer in that direction.

  3. Avatar
    thatotherjean

    I know very little about either logic or philosophy, and have no great desire to learn much more, so please excuse me if this sounds insulting–it isn’t meant to be. If you’re looking to fill in gaps in your knowledge, have you considered that there’s a free download of “Logic for Dummies”? The “For Dummies” books that I’ve read generally have a pretty good overview of their subjects, and break them down into categories to explore further. I have no idea if this approach would prove helpful, but it might be worth a look.

  4. Avatar
    Stuart Armstrong

    For philosophical reasoning, I’ve found that getting to know the logical fallacies has been the most help, in practice; eg looking through a few of these: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies

    The risk with that is that you start spotting fallacies everywhere, and dismiss arguments because of that. But many arguments are formally fallacious when stated, but do actually make sense for the arguer. eg the slippery slope fallacy is a fallacy, only if the slippery slope is actually false. But, even if the slippery slope is actually true, people will often omit stating it and just assume everyone agrees.

    The one informal fallacy that genuinely is everywhere is special pleading/isolated demand for rigour/mote and beams: requiring much stronger justifications for arguments you disagree with then for those you agree with.

    Anyway, thanks for all your interesting posts ^_^

  5. Avatar
    Sam Reimarus

    Bruce,

    I think you might like Irving Copi’s Introduction to Symbolic Logic. You can get the 14th edition in a PDF of of the web—I just checked-I thing it was 644 pages. It’s very easy to understand and addressed informal and formal fallacies and reasoning. This is what I learned from in college and I found it very easy to understand and I even enjoyed the formal exercises. It’s not as inscrutable as the mathematical logic intros, with all the formulas and so forth.

  6. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    Researching logic is a good idea. I do remember when I went to church, at times I’d hear condemnation of logic, because it promoted independent thinking. They can’t control you unless your emotions, fears of some sort usually are hooked first ! Most of my actions were based on that reaction to fear mongering and guilt, if I didn’t do this or that heroic personal sacrifice. I wished up after 2018, big time. Though I’d benefit way more if I were younger.

  7. Avatar
    JW

    Ahahah, my apologies, I wish I could provide you with a more suitable example, but my introduction to formal logic was through Logic in Computer Science, Modelling and Reasoning about Systems by Michael Huth and Mark Ryan, which was the first thing I could think of. It definitely seems like the kind of dry, heavy academic book that that you would most likely not be looking for. It is very thorough, though.

    I did (later, oddly enough) take a first year undergrad course on Critical Thinking, which covered a bit of formal logic in one section in addition to a lot of other subjects on constructing effective arguments. The book for that course seemed way more accessible, unfortunately I’m not sure where it got to. Anyway, maybe consider reviewing books on Critical Thinking as well? The subject is related.

    It’s not a book and you’re probably already familiar with RationalWiki, but they do have a few sections on logic and logical fallacies as well: https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Logic

  8. Avatar
    organicmanicmama

    I found author David G. McAfee when I was looking for similar journeys from from fundamentalism to atheism.

    His books are on Amazon and Barnes & Noble [author page there keeps his stuff together.]

    He has a great FB page where he promotes his books often with lots of dark humor, sarcasm, memes and follower interaction.

    Here’s his bio from his FB page to show his religious education background: “David G. McAfee is a journalist and author of The Curious Person’s Guide to Fighting Fake News, No Sacred Cows: Investigating Myths, Cults, and the Supernatural, and other books. He is a former columnist for Canadian Freethinker Magazine and a contributor to American Atheist Magazine. Mr. McAfee attended University of California, Santa Barbara, and graduated with bachelor’s degrees in English and Religious Studies with an emphasis on Christianity and Mediterranean religions. After experiencing discrimination within the American public education system as a result of his secular activism, David G. McAfee sought to help those who fear similar professional or familial consequences to their public non-belief.”

    link to his FB page:
    https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDavidGMcAfee

    and to his Barnes & Noble author page:
    https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/%22David%20G.%20McAfee%22;jsessionid=DCC163047E7A1EEA7EE6E6EA4B8D5AE4.prodny_store01-atgap03?Ntk=P_key_Contributor_List&Ns=P_Sales_Rank&Ntx=mode+matchall

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