Logic and Communication
This book was the first anthology to explore the many points of intersection between the realms of argument evaluation, critical thinking, and mass communications. It raises important questions about how the mass media influence topics and styles of thought, and considers whether the notion of a 'free marketplace of ideas' is still valid today.
The popular notion of a 'free marketplace of ideas' presumes a critical capacity on the part of the consuming public, a capacity to arrive at well-founded beliefs when a variety of beliefs are disseminated and defended. This concept is still used to defend freedom of expression. Yet it now operates in a context quite different from the nineteenth-century world in which it originated. Then even quite small towns had several newspapers representing diverse political views. People got their information from print or from speeches at public meetings. Television, film, and videocassettes, where images predominate and provide little opportunity or incentive for rational thought, did not yet exist. In his classic defense of freedom of speech, On Liberty, John Stuart Mill wrote of such a world. For better or for worse, that world is not ours. It is a real question how mass media in contemporary times affect understanding and critical thought, and how and whether the free marketplace of ideas is still a viable concept today. The essays collected here are, in various ways, contributions to this general theme. (from the Introduction)
Essays by a number of authors - including such well-known figures as Neil Postman and Stephen Jay Gould - discuss such themes as the distinction between fact and opinion and the temptations of careless causal reasoning. A witty dialogue explores the nature of propaganda. Also included are lively and practical discussions of the definition of bias, the perils of opinion polls, and the idea that a 'balance' between two sides can provide objectivity. Questions for discussion and reflection, supplied by the editor, are appended to each essay. The essays by Weddle, Hardwig, and Govier are often cited in philosophical work on related topics.
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This book remained in print from 1988 until 1998 and was used for courses in departments of philosophy and communication. Although it is now out of print, it may be consulted in many university and public libraries. In addition, the author has some remaining copies available for private consultation and sale.
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Trudy Govier, editor, Selected Issues in Logic and Communiction. Wadsworth, 1988. ISBN 0-534-08694-2.
This book is now out of print.