Seldom does human reasoning fit the standards of deduction. Yet logicians have tended to use the strict standards of deductive validity for assessing all inferences. Within Reason develops instead a way of assessing arguments and inferences that is directly appropriate to the non-deductive forms people regularly use. It uses analogy, and argument from analogy, to provide a thread that unites various forms: raising objections, inductions of various sorts, arguments to explanation (or hypothesis), and arguments to action. The discussion is developed progressively, at each stage building on the skills learned previously. And at each stage the book suggetss ways of assessing the strength of reasoning. Most of the examples are taken from the great texts of the Western tradition. In the exercises that form an integral part of each chapter an even broader range of writing is presented, offering instructors an extraordinary variety of texts at various levels ot assign to their students.
The thesis implicit in the book is that induction, arguments to explanation and arguments to action are all sophisticated forms of arguments from analogy. Burbidge is concerned not simply to warn against the misuse of non-deductive reasoning but also to develop a more positive theory that allows us both to better udnerstand the workings of non-deductive reasoning, and to better employ it.