Effective Reasoning

Everyone reasons. Humans are reasoning animals, if not always reasonable. Further, we homo sapiens are unique in that we reason with words and symbols that make thoughts and ideas that lead to anticipation, imagination, and the very making of human history.

To reason is to use evidence and thought to come to some conclusion. Reasoning can be done alone or in groups, but most effectively, working in groups but reflecting in private.

Unfortunately, merely being human does not provide any assurance that any of us that we will reason effectively. Reasoning does not have to produce particularly useful results, however productive reasoning is an art that requires some technical skill. Just as graphic artists have to learn about draftsmanship paint and brushwork to make paintings, so too do thinkers need some understanding of logic, language and reliable projection if they are to become leaders and help make history.

We hope to present here information that will allow almost anyone to develop both the skill and the knowledge to reason effectively, to imagine new worlds and to get things done: Somewhere between paralysis via analysis and activity instead of progress

Particularly, this Wikibook discusses informal reasoning, which includes some formal methods and some traditional approaches together with more recent philosophical and neurological understanding of effective reasoning techniques. For a complete study, take a look also at the related reference works mentioned as well as associated Wikibooks such as Introduction to Moral Reasoning and Formal Logic.


  1. Effective Reasoning
  2. Elements of Reasoning
  3. Language
  4. Memory
  5. Sources of Appeal
  6. Definition and Focus
  7. Deduction
  8. Inductive Reasoning
  9. Doubt
  10. Argumentation
  11. Literary Criticism
  12. Aesthetic Criticism
  13. Moral Reasoning
  14. Apologetics and Religious Criticism

Recommended Resources

  • External
    • Books
      • Boole, George (1958). An Investigation of The Laws of Thought On Which Are Founded the Mathematical Theories of Logic and Probability. New York: Dover Publications, Inc. (ISBN 0486600289) (This text is also available in free eText form here: http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/15114)
      • Brock, Bernard & Scott, Robert (1980) Methods of Rhetorical Criticism: A Twentieth-Century Perspective (2nd ed.). Detroit: Wayne State University Press (ISBN 0060458429)
      • Carnap, Rudolf (1958). Introduction to Symbolic Logic and Its Applications. New York: Dover Publications, Inc. (ISBN 0486604535)
      • Copi, Irving (2005) Introduction to Logic (12th ed.). Printice Hall (ISBN 0131332759)
      • Polya, G. (1971) How To Solve It (Reissue ed.). Princeton University Press (ISBN 0691080976)
      • Dauer, Francis Watanabe (1996) Critical Thinking: An Introduction to Reasoning. New York: Barnes and Noble (ISBN 0760701377)
    • Websites
    • Other media
      • Zarefsky, David (2005). Argumentation: The Study of Effective Reasoning [Course]. Chantilly, VA: The Teaching Company Limited Partnership
      • Hall, James (2005). Tools of Thinking: Understanding th World Trough Experience and Reason [Course]. Chantilly, VA: The Teaching Company Limited Partnership
Last modified on 6 December 2012, at 17:17