Teaching Logic: How to Overcome the Limitations of the Classroom

Part of the Argumentation Library book series (ARGA, volume 2)


Dobie has been devoting their dates to teaching Polly the informal logic that he thinks she needs in order to be up to his intellectual standards. When he finally is satisfied with her progress and tries to transform their relationship from “academic to romantic,” she frustrates him by using what he taught her to find fallacies in every one of his overtures. Out of desperation, he turns against his own lessons. His warning not to apply them in real life comes too late because, as she points out, even though such “classroom stuff” usually has no value outside the classroom, there are exceptions, as her own use of his lessons to thwart his romantic overtures demonstrates.


Facilitation Effect Selection Task Panel Discussion Physician Assisted Suicide Religious People 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    The example is taken from Cohen (1986, pp. 153–4). See the previous essay in this collection for references to the literature on this subject and for a much fuller discussion of the issues raised by the research done with illiterates on how well they do on logic problems.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Some researchers believe that results obtained concerning the facilitation effect have obvious implications for the classroom. See Cheng, Holyoak, Nisbett, and Oliver (1986). However, their explanation of the facilitation effect has been challenged, most notably by Cosmides (1989). For a thoughtful introduction to the work done on the Selection Task and the facilitation effect, see Manktelow and Over ( 1990, pp. 103–22 ).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    The reason they can’t learn is because they are the dumb class. No other reason. Is adding difficult? No. It is the dumb class which is difficult. Are the teachers a dumb class? Well, we are supposed to teach kids to ‘read, write, cipher, and sing,’ according to an old phrase. Can we do it? Mostly not. Is it difficult? Not at all. We can’t do it because we are a dumb class, which by definition can’t do it, whatever it is“ (Herndon 1972, p. 95.)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OregonEugeneUSA

Personalised recommendations