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Reason in the Balance (Second Edition)

Reason in the Balance (Second Edition)

An Inquiry Approach to Critical Thinking

Sharon Bailin and Mark Battersby

March 2016 - 488 pp.

Format ISBN Price Qty
Paper 978-1-62466-477-9
$49.00
Examination 978-1-62466-477-9
$5.00

Quick Overview

Unlike most texts in critical thinking, Reason in the Balance focuses broadly on the practice of critical inquiry, the process of carefully examining an issue in order to come to a reasoned judgment. Although analysis and critique of individual arguments have an important role to play, this text goes beyond that dimension to emphasize the various aspects that go into the practice of inquiry, including identifying issues and relevant contexts, understanding competing cases, and making a comparative judgment. Click here to view a PDF of the complete Table of Contents.

OR

eBook available for $36.95. Click HERE for more information.

"This is a terrific text: witty, engagingly written, with strong focus on inquiry and reaching reasoned judgments on complex issues. . . . Highly recommended!" —Harvey Siegel, University of Miami *

Unlike most texts in critical thinking, Reason in the Balance focuses broadly on the practice of critical inquiry, the process of carefully examining an issue in order to come to a reasoned judgment. Although analysis and critique of individual arguments have an important role to play, this text goes beyond that dimension to emphasize the various aspects that go into the practice of inquiry, including identifying issues and relevant contexts, understanding competing cases, and making a comparative judgment.

Preview sections of the book (PDF downloads):

Distinctive Features of the Text:

  • Emphasis on applying critical thinking to complex issues with competing arguments
  • Inclusion of chapters on inquiry in specific contexts
  • Attention to the dialogical aspects of inquiry, including sample dialogues
  • Emphasis on the spirit of inquiry

The Second Edition Features:

  • Updated examples and items of current interest
  • New dialogues on vaccination, prostitution, and climate change
  • New material on biases in reasoning, including emotional, psychological, social, and cognitive

The Reason in the Balance Website includes:

  • An Appendix on Logic
  • Exercises
  • Quizzes

Instructor Materials:

Instructor materials for Reason in the Balance, including an instructor's manual (PDF format only), PowerPoint files, and chapter quizzes, are available to qualified course instructors. Course instructors: click here for more information, and to request, instructor materials.


What Should I Believe?

Teaching Critical Thinking for Reasoned Judgment 

For more on the inquiry appraoch to teaching critical thinking from Sharon Bailin and Mark Battersby read their article in Teaching Philosophy (Sept. 2017, vol. 40, issue 3), What Should I Believe? (abstract below). The full article may be purchased here.

"How do I figure out what to believe?"

In the face of competing views, conflicting claims, distrust of expertise, and disdain for facts, this question is both understandable and pertinent. The perennial educational task of helping people to evaluate claims and compare arguments in order to engage in reasoned discourse and make reasoned judgments takes on particular urgency in the contemporary context. An obvious venue for such an endeavor is a course in critical thinking, but the way critical thinking is usually taught, with its focus on individual arguments, does not get us to that goal. The approach which we have developed focuses, instead, on inquiry, which has as its goal to provide students with the tools necessary for engaging in reasoned discourse and making reasoned judgments in real contexts. We describe this approach, argue for its advantages, and describe what a course would look like following an inquiry approach.


 

 Comments on the First Edition:
 

"The approach taken to critical thinking in its pages is refreshingly ambitious, original, and in-touch with all of the major approaches to the study of argumentation. . . . The model of inquiry set forth in the book is robust enough to provide students with the foundation they need to develop real skill in critical, interpersonal reasoning – a boast few offerings in the critical thinking textbook field can truly make."
      —Steven Patterson, in Controversia

"Reason in the Balance: An Inquiry Approach to Critical Thinking is distinctive in the emphasis it places not only on tools of critical inquiry (principles of logic and argumentation, etc.) but also the values and mindset that are required for the proper exercise of these tools, values like open-mindedness and fair-mindedness and critical scrutiny of assumptions. My own view is that critical thinking involves the simultaneous application of a number of different cognitive skills and attitudes in the service of improving the quality of our beliefs and judgments, and this text shares this multidimensional view of the components of critical thinking. This text understands that logic and argumentation are very different things, and the result is a more nuanced discussion of the relationships between logic, argumentation and critical inquiry than one normally sees in a critical thinking text."
      —Kevin deLaplante, Critical Thinker Academy and Iowa State University

* "This is a terrific text: witty, engagingly written, with strong focus on inquiry and reaching reasoned judgments on complex issues. Emphasizes the dialectical dimension of CT, the importance of context, and the spirit of inquiry. Focuses on realistic examples of actual inquiry on questions that matter (e.g., is it OK to eat meat?; pit bull legislation; capital punishment) and that are complex and detailed but fast-moving and very well presented. Emphasizes comparative evaluation of arguments to conflicting conclusions and tight interconnection of critical and creative thinking. Offers a neat way of assigning strength/weakness measures to arguments. All in all an innovative and effective text. Highly recommended!"
      —Harvey Siegel, University of Miami