On the Universality of Argumentative Reasoning

Journal of Cognition and Culture 11 (1-2):85-113 (2011)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

According to the argumentative theory of reasoning, humans have evolved reasoning abilities for argumentative purposes. This implies that some reasoning skills should be universals. Such a claim seems to be at odd with findings from cross-cultural research. First, a wealth of research, following the work of Luria, has shown apparent difficulties for illiterate populations to solve simple but abstract syllogisms. It can be shown, however, that once they are willing to accept the pragmatics of the task, these participants can perform at or near ceiling. Second, historical, sociological and anthropological research has been used to claim that some Eastern cultures have not developed argumentation. These claims are the result of oversimplifications and of a selective view of the data. A closer looks reveals instead very elaborate forms of argumentation, in Chinese culture particularly. Third, cross-cultural psychologists have carried out an extensive research program aimed at showing that Easterners do not rely on the principle of non-contradiction and that they use holistic rather than analytic thinking. A review of these experiments shows that no qualitative difference emerges in the way Easterners and Westerners deal with argumentation and that in the proper context both populations can easily have recourse to holistic or analytic thinking. It is possible to conclude from this critical review that the reasoning skills involved in argumentation seem to be universal even though they can be used in different ways in various cultural contexts.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,998

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

The Social Origins of Folk Epistemology.Hugo Mercier - 2010 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1 (4):499-514.
Replies to Mercier and Oaksford.Howard Darmstadter - 2013 - Thinking and Reasoning 19 (3-4):500-504.
Why do humans reason? Arguments for an argumentative theory.Dan Sperber - 2011 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34 (2):57.
What good is moral reasoning?Hugo Mercier - 2011 - Mind and Society 10 (2):131-148.

Analytics

Added to PP
2018-08-01

Downloads
48 (#331,676)

6 months
12 (#214,129)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Hugo Mercier
Institut Jean Nicod

Citations of this work

Why do humans reason? Arguments for an argumentative theory.Dan Sperber - 2011 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34 (2):57.
Intuitions and Experiments: A Defense of the Case Method in Epistemology.Jennifer Nagel - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 (3):495-527.
Defending the Evidential Value of Epistemic Intuitions: A Reply to Stich.Jennifer Nagel - 2013 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 86 (1):179-199.
Contemporary ordinary language philosophy.Nat Hansen - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (8):556-569.
‘Language, Truth and Reason’ 30years later.Ian Hacking - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 43 (4):599-609.

View all 26 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

The weirdest people in the world?Joseph Henrich, Steven J. Heine & Ara Norenzayan - 2010 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33 (2-3):61-83.
A source book in Chinese philosophy.Wing-Tsit Chan - 1963 - Princeton, N.J.,: Princeton University Press. Edited by Wing-Tsit Chan.
The empirical case for two systems of reasoning.Steven A. Sloman - 1996 - Psychological Bulletin 119 (1):3-22.

View all 52 references / Add more references