Farewell to Fallacies

Philosophy and Rhetoric 54 (4):397-420 (2021)
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ABSTRACT Fallacies are traditionally defined as potentially deceptive failures of rationality or reasonableness. Fallacy theories seek to model this failure by formulating standards of rationality or reasonableness that arguers must observe when engaging in argumentative interaction. Yet it remains relatively easy to reject or avoid fallacy judgments even in the most clear-cut cases. In this article, I argue for a pluralist approach to criticism in which the fallacy accusation is only the starting point for a more complex form of criticism. In a pluralist approach, the identification of fallacies works as a first step precisely because it can be so easily set aside. In doing so, the evaluator seeks other evaluative angles that depart from the original one. As a case in point, I exemplify the approach on a piece of argumentative discourse in the scientific context. I conclude by spelling out some of the methodological consequences of the present approach.



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