The table below indicates how a preponderance of textbooks (twenty-four out of thirty surveyed in June 2010) employ at least three techniques involved in “The Adversary Method” identified by Janice Moulton (1983). The table is reprinted from “The authority of the fallacies approach to argument evaluation” by Catherine E. Hundleby (2010) from Informal Logic 30(3), by permission, where further analysis and explanation can be found. The surveyed textbooks are written by authors and designed for courses within the discipline of philosophy, have at least one chapter devoted to fallacies, and are all of those that could be obtained as examination copies over a period of several years. The only systematic effort was to consider texts by established scholars in the field. (Parallel texts in rhetoric and composition do not seem to share the same problems.)
The aspects of fallacies presentation that support the Adversary Method, in increasing order of concern, are as follows.
(a) Ignore the possibility of argument repair
(b) 50% or more very short or decontextualized examples.
(c) 50% or more manufactured examples
(d) A “taxonomic technique” for exercises that provides a range of arguments as mistaken and asks students to indicate which fallacy creates the mistake; or presents a range of arguments that may or may not be mistaken but does not include discussion of acceptable counterparts of fallacies.
Those textbooks not on the table because they do not exhibit three or more aspects of the Adversary Method include those by Bickenbach and Davies (1997), Epstein (2006), Govier (2010), Johnson and Blair (2006), Tindale (2007b), all who have significant bodies of scholarship in argumentation and informal logic. Boss (2010) is another exception, a scholar of moral reasoning who engages feminist issues.
Almost all authors on the table have no publications in informal logic or argumentation. (To assess the authors’ scholarly areas I consulted the current on-line edition of The Philosopher’s Index and the authors’ academic webpages). Only three philosophy textbooks—Walton, Woods, and Irvine (2004), Copi and Cohen (2005), and Engel (2000)—that my analysis reveals to employ the Adversary Method (and so that appear on the Table) have authors who are scholars in the field; and even these are borderline cases. The worst practice, the taxonomic technique, does not appear in Walton, Woods, and Irvine (2004), and many longer, contextualized, and authentic examples can be found in Engel (2000). Engel’s (2000) and Copi and Cohen’s (2005) belong to an early generation of textbooks, which accounts for their failure to reflect recent scholarship.
Bassham, G., Irwin, W., Nardone, H., and Wallace, J.M. (2005). Critical thinking: A student’s introduction. Toronto: McGraw-Hill.
Bickenbach, J.E. and Davies, J.M. (1997). Good reasons for better arguments: As introduction to the skills and values of critical thinking. Orchard Park, NY: Broadview.
Boss, J.A. (2010) Think: Critical thinking and logic skills for everyday life. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Burton (2002). The voice of reason: Fundamentals of critical thinking. New York: Oxford University Press.
Carey, S.S. (2000). The uses and abuses of argument: Critical thinking and the fallacies. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield.
Copi, I.M., and Cohen, C. (2005). Introduction to logic, 12th edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ:Prentice Hall.
Copi, I.M., Cohen, C., and Flage, D.E. (2007). Essentials of logic, 2nd edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Damer, T.E. (2005). Attacking faulty reasoning: A practical guide to fallacy-free arguments, sixth edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Dayton (2010) Critical thinking, logic, and argument. Pearson Education Canada.
Engel, S.M. (2000). With good reason: An introduction to informal fallacies, 6th edition. Boston: St. Martin’s Press.
Flage, D.E. (2004). The art of questioning: An introduction to critical thinking. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Govier, T. (2010). A practical study of argument. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Gula, R.J. (2002). Nonsense: A handbook of logical fallacies. Mount Jackson, VA: Axios Press.
Hughes, W. and Lavery, J. (2008). Critical thinking: An introduction to the basic skills, 5th edition. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview.
Johnson, R. H. and Blair, J.A. (2006). Logical self-defense. New York: International debate education association.
Kenyon, T. (2008). Clear thinking in a blurry world. Toronto: Nelson.
Leblanc, J. (1998). Thinking clearly: A guide to critical reasoning. W.W. Norton & Co.
Lee, Stephen P. (2002). What is the argument? Critical thinking in the real world. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Moore, B.N. and Parker, R. (2007). Critical thinking, 8th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Reichenbach, B.R. (2001). Introduction to critical thinking. New York: McGraw Hill.
Rudinow, J., Barry, V.E., Letteri, M. (2008). Invitation to critical thinking, 1st Canadian edition. Toronto: Thomson.
Saindon, J. (2008). Argument and argumentation. Toronto: Nelson.
Schick, T., Jr. and Vaughn, L. (2005). How to think about weird things, 4th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Schwarze, S. and Lape, H. (2000). Thinking Socratically. Prentice Hall.
Teays, W. (2006). Second thoughts: Critical thinking for a diverse society, 3rd edition. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Tindale, Christopher. (2007b). Fallacies and argument appraisal. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press: 155-170.
Vaughn, L. and MacDonald, C. (2008). The power of critical thinking, Canadian edition. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press.
Wilson, D.C. (1999). A guide to good reasoning. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Woods, J., Irvine, A. and Walton, D. (2004). Argument: Critical thinking, logic and the fallacies, second edition. Toronto: Prentice Hall.