Saturday, May 09, 2009

Book Review: Being Logical by D.Q. McInerny

Being Logical: A Guide to Good Thinking by D. Q. McInerny is an excellent choice for an introduction to logic. There are a number of reasons why this makes a great first text. First, it is written plainly. The student is introduced to logical ideas without being bogged down by jargon or cumbersome technical language. Second, the ideas flow smoothly and naturally from the basic to the complex. The ascent is steady and gradual and it just makes sense; it doesn’t “drop” the reader when introducing new concepts. Third, its small size (160 pages) is just right for an introductory text. It is a very manageable, light, and readable text.

McInerny organizes the book into five parts: 1) Preparing the Mind for Logic; 2) The Basic Principles of Logic; 3) Argument: The Language of Logic; 4) The Sources of Illogical Thinking; and 5) The Principal Forms of Illogical Thinking. Each part has a number of mini-chapters dealing with its particular elements. This makes the initial reading feel “bite-sized,” and the subsequence scans and reviews quick and helpful.

The content is straightforward: the standard foundations of logic. At the risk of overemphasis, however, the presentation and flow of the content really makes this outstanding. Part four introduces an element of critical thinking, and perhaps introspection, as it deals with the sources of illogical thinking. The author’s list includes skepticism, evasive agnosticism, cynicism, naïve optimism, narrow-mindedness, and emotion. Part five is a standard treatment of logical fallacies, beginning with formal fallacies, then on to informal fallacies.

Although small and simple, Being Logical: A Guide to Good Thinking is this reviewer’s first recommendation for an introduction to logic.


eric said...

Interesting. A book about logic on a Christian apologetics website!

Does it answer a simple logical query such as:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then He is not omnipotent. Is He able, but not willing? Then He is malevolent. Is He both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is He neither able nor willing? Then why call Him God? Epicurus (c. 341 - c. 270 BC)

Oh... there's always the old fallback "God works in mysterious ways!" :)

Thanks for the chuckle. A book on logic... that's rich!

Aaron said...


This reader likes how you refer to yourself in the third person as "this reviewer." : )

Anonymous said...

Why do all books on logic have something like a Möbius strip on the cover?

Chad said...


Hello; I don't know if this book covers the quote you mentioned, however, WLC does here:

Hope you find it helpful.

Take care

Thomas said...


Putting aside your wit and sarcasm, I do hope you are interested in logic and debate.

If so, would you care to explain how logical absolutes came about given your worldview?

Would you care to explain "evil" and "good" in an objective way given your worldview?

Further, how did life come from non-life? How did intelligence develop from non-intelligence given your worldview?

These are all serious issues that I'd be willing to discuss with you. Frankly, atheism is not at all rational or logical. Christianity is.

So if you'd be willing to put aside your sarcasm, I'm sure many here would be glad to have a discussion with you.

Brian said...

Eric:That question isn't answered in this book. However, that supposed dilemma has been answered elsewhere. Check out Chad's link. What is your opinion on the dilemma? Do you revert to "God works in mysterious ways?"

Do you have something against logic?

Thanks for taking the time to read.

Aaron:This writer hates using first person in book reviews!

Matthew:The möbius strip thing has puzzled me too. I haven't found the answer, but maybe it has something to do with a paradox of some sort... if you find out, let me know. I would love it if rubber bands came as bags of möbius strips.

Thomas:Good points. Thanks for contributing.

Chad:Great find. That is a great article that answers Eric's question.

Eric: Did you find that article helpful in answering your question?

Anonymous said...

For this new Seeker, people exhibiting Eric's behavior prove the validity of "the Fall" for me. Thank you for your kindness towards him. Wonder if he'll notice that his behavior shows an (enslaving) obsession to troll and bait? I'd bet he couldn't pass on commenting on this reply, for say 4-5 weeks; would likely create a dilemma--to manage to supress an ego and forego a YASR (yet another sarcastic reply) for that time? Whoa. Will consider his reply in the interm a confession of selfish preoccupation in that regard. Peace

Wilson said...

Atheism is not rational or logical? From one Christian to another it is this kind of response that reminds me one sentence can destroy the eloquence of those that precede it. It was unnecessary. It left me with the perception of someone that is short sighted and speaks in absolutes. Leave that quip out and the message is positive and engaging rather than confrontational and closed minded. Bummer really.

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