Saturday, May 02, 2009

Book Review: Introduction to Logic by Irving Copi & Carl Cohen

Introduction to Logic (11th Edition) by Irving M. Copi and Carl Cohen is a standard textbook that gives a broad and fairly thorough introduction and overview of logic. The book is designed with the student in mind with numerous exercises in each section and a companion website at

The content of the book is laid out in three parts. Part one, Logic and Language, covers the basic logical concepts, the use of language, definitions, and fallacies. Part two, Deduction, covers categorical propositions, categorical syllogisms, arguments in ordinary language, symbolic logic, the method of deduction, and quantification theory. Part three, Induction, covers analogy and probably inference, causal connections, science and hypothesis, and probability. While organized and systematic, some sections may become extremely slow going, such as symbolic logic.

A main strength of Copi and Cohen’s text is its thorough coverage of a wide scope of material. The majority of the content is addressed at a good depth, again, with plenty of time-consuming exercises. On the other hand, although the writing is precise and careful, it may not be easy to grasp for a first text in logic. A simpler, plain-language text could be recommended as a basic primer, such as Being Logical: A Guide to Good Thinking by D.Q. McInerny. This may pave the way for the reader to have a bigger picture of the subject of logic/critical thinking and so more readily take on the depth and jargon of Copi and Cohen’s exacting and unapologetically technical textbook.

Many books on logic can be quite interesting and entertaining. This reviewer found Copi and Cohen to be occasionally interesting but unentertaining. Said plainly, this is a logic textbook. The content is often dry and cumbersome in spots. However, the serious logic student will find working through Copi and Cohen’s Introduction to Logic very rewarding.