The Skills of Argument

The Skills of Argument presents a comprehensive, empirical study of informal reasoning as argument, involving subjects across the life span. Professor Kuhn asked her subjects questions that people have occasion to think and talk about in everyday life, such as "What causes prisoners to return to crime after they are released?" "What causes unemployment?" "What causes children to fail in school?" Subjects were asked to offer their own theories regarding the cause of the phenomenon and then asked to provide supporting evidence for their theories. This is the first major study of how people reason in everyday life, and it highlights the importance of argumentative reasoning in everyday thought. Professor Kuhn's findings address crucial issues in cognitive and developmental psychology, as well as in education, and her work will also appeal to philosophers, political scientists, and linguists interested in argumentative discourse.


"This book describes the results of a carefully designed and executed set of interviews about the understanding and use of arguments in the broad sense. It reveals widespread weaknesses in abilities needed for responsible citizenship, and it provides a framework for understanding these weaknesses. It represents an important new direction in the psychology of thinking, with implications that are both theoretical and practical." Jonathan Baron, University of Pennsylvania

" extremely important book...a well-done empirical study of people's informal reasoning. It goes a long way toward filling the large gap between psychologist..." Jonathan Baron, Informal Logic