Yesterday on my lonely dog-walk I listened to an iTunes U podcast presentation from Oxford University on the Theory of Arguments as part of a series on Critical Reasoning.

I did not find the lecturer easy to follow, but then it’s not easy to explain simply entailment, causation, necessity and so on. She seemed to be failing to distinguish between different sorts of truth-statements, not least because that means drilling down into the way language works. Thus “my shirt is red” has or has not a different truth-quality to “this is a chair” or “London is north of Brighton”. On the other hand, a podcast based on the symbols of formal logic might not be much fun.

She at least started well on the difference between Argument and Contradiction, pointing her students to this:

All of which shows why the skill of listening is so important in mediation and negotiation technique – what is the other side really saying (and really meaning) in making that statement?