Philosophers of science have given up on the quest for a silver bullet to put an end to all pseudoscience, as such a neat formal criterion to separate good science from its contenders has proven elusive. In the literature on critical thinking and in some philosophical quarters, however, this search for silver bullets lives on in the taxonomies of fallacies. The attractive idea is to have a handy list of abstract definitions or argumentation schemes, on the basis of which one (...) can identify bad or invalid types of reasoning, abstracting away from the specific content and dialectical context. Such shortcuts for debunking arguments are tempting, but alas, the promise is hardly if ever fulfilled. Different strands of research on the pragmatics of argumentation, probabilistic reasoning and ecological rationality have shown that almost every known type of fallacy is a close neighbor to sound inferences or acceptable moves in a debate. Nonetheless, the kernel idea of a fallacy as an erroneous type of argument is still retained by most authors. We outline a destructive dilemma we refer to as the Fallacy Fork: on the one hand, if fallacies are construed as demonstrably invalid form of reasoning, then they have very limited applicability in real life. On the other hand, if our definitions of fallacies are sophisticated enough to capture real-life complexities, they can no longer be held up as an effective tool for discriminating good and bad forms of reasoning. As we bring our schematic “fallacies” in touch with reality, we seem to lose grip on normative questions. Even approaches that do not rely on argumentation schemes to identify fallacies fail to escape the Fallacy Fork, and run up against their own version of it. (shrink)
Virtue argumentation theory has been charged of being incomplete, given its alleged inability to account for argument cogency in virtue-theoretical terms. Instead of defending VAT against that challenge, I suggest it is misplaced, since it is based on a premise VAT does not endorse, and raises an issue that most versions of VAT need not consider problematic. This in turn allows distinguishing several varieties of VAT, and clarifying what really matters for them.
In this article we strive to provide a detailed and principled analysis of the role of beliefs in goal processing—that is, the cognitive transition that leads from a mere desire to a proper intention. The resulting model of belief-based goal processing has also relevant consequences for the analysis of intentions, and constitutes the necessary core of a constructive theory of intentions, i.e. a framework that not only analyzes what an intention is, but also explains how it becomes what it is. (...) We discuss similarities and differences between our approach and other standard accounts of intention, in particular Bratman’s planning theory. The aim here is to question and refine the conceptual foundations of many theories of intentional action: as a consequence, although our analysis is not formal in itself, it is ultimately meant to have deep consequences for formal models of intentional agency. (shrink)
Enthymemes are traditionally defined as arguments in which some elements are left unstated. It is an empirical fact that enthymemes are both enormously frequent and appropriately understood in everyday argumentation. Why is it so? We outline an answer that dispenses with the so called "principle of charity", which is the standard notion underlying most works on enthymemes. In contrast, we suggest that a different force drives enthymematic argumentation—namely, parsimony, i.e. the tendency to optimize resource consumption, in light of the agent's (...) goals. On this view, the frequent use of enthymemes does not indicate sub-optimal performance of arguers, requiring appeals to charity for their redemption. On the contrary, it is seen as a highly adaptive argumentation strategy, given the need of everyday reasoners to optimize their cognitive resources. Considerations of parsimony also affect enthymeme reconstruction, i.e. the process by which the interpreter makes sense of the speaker's enthymemes. Far from being driven by any pro-social cooperative instinct, interpretative efforts are aimed at extracting valuable information at reasonable costs from available sources. Thus, there is a tension between parsimony and charity, insofar as the former is a non-social constraint for self-regulation of one's behaviour, whereas the latter implies a pro-social attitude. We will argue that some versions of charity are untenable for enthymeme interpretation, while others are compatible with the view defended here, but still require parsimony to expose the ultimate reasons upon which a presumption of fair treatment in enthymeme reconstruction is founded. (shrink)
This article proposes a cost-benefit analysis of argumentation, with the aim of highlighting the strategic considerations that govern the agent's decision to argue or not. In spite of its paramount importance, the topic of argumentative decision-making has not received substantial attention in argumentation theories so far. We offer an explanation for this lack of consideration and propose a tripartite taxonomy and detailed description of the strategic reasons considered by arguers in their decision-making: benefits, costs, and dangers. We insist that the (...) implications of acknowledging the strategic dimension of arguing are far-reaching, including promising insights on how to develop better argumentation technologies. (shrink)
Modes of action readiness Acceptance accepting presence or interaction Non- acceptance not accepting presence or interaction Attending acquiring information Disinterest not acquiring information Affiliate achieving or accepting close ...
Why are enthymemes so frequent? Are we dumb arguers, smart rhetoricians, or parsimonious reasoners? This paper investigates systematic use of enthymemes, criticizing the application of the principle of charity to their interpretation. In contrast, I propose to analyze enthymematic argumentation in terms of parsimony, i.e. as a manifestation of the rational tendency to economize over scant resources. Consequences of this view on the current debate on enthymemes and on their rational reconstruction are discussed.
Traditionally, an enthymeme is an incomplete argument, made so by the absence of one or more of its constituent statements. An enthymeme resolution strategy is a set of procedures for finding those missing elements, thus reconstructing the enthymemes and restoring its meaning. It is widely held that a condition on the adequacy of such procedures is that statements restored to an enthymeme produce an argument that is good in some given respect in relation to which the enthymeme itself is bad. (...) In previous work, we emphasized the role of parsimony in enthymeme resolution strategies and concomitantly downplayed the role of charity . In the present paper, we take the analysis of enthymemes a step further. We will propose that if the pragmatic features that attend the phenomenon of enthymematic communication are duly heeded, the very idea of reconstructing enthymemes loses much of its rationale, and their interpretation comes to be conceived in a new light. (shrink)
People argue to reconcile differences of opinion, but reconciliation may fail to happen. In these cases, most theorists assume arguers are left with the same disagreement from which they started. This is too optimistic, since disagreement might instead escalate, and this may happen because of the argumentative practice, not in spite of it. These dangers depend on epistemological, pragmatic, and cultural factors, and show why arguers should be careful in picking their dialogical fights.
In spite of significant research efforts, argument technologies do not seem poised to scale up as much as most commentators would hope or even predict. In this paper, I discuss what obstacles bar the way to more widespread success of argument technologies and venture some suggestions on how to circumvent such difficulties: doing so will require a significant shift in how this research area is typically understood and practiced. I begin by exploring a much broader yet closely related question: To (...) what extent are people natively good at arguing? This issue has always been central to philosophical reflection and it has become even more urgent nowadays, with the explosion of persuasive technologies and unprecedented opportunities for large-scale social influence. The answer hinges on what aspect of argumentation is taken under consideration: evidence suggests that people are relatively bad at analyzing the structure of arguments, especially when these are presented out of context and in abstract terms; in contrast, data show that even laymen tend to excel in the interactive practice of argumentation, in particular when motivation is high and something significant is at stake. Unfortunately, current argument technologies are more closely tailored to the former type of activity than to the latter, which is the main reason behind their relative lack of success with the general public. Changing this state of affair will require a commitment to ecological argument technologies: that is, technologies designed to support real-time, engaging and meaningful argumentative interactions performed by laypeople in their ordinary life, instead of catering to the highly specific needs of a minority of niche users. (shrink)
The FactsIt has recently come to light that an article published on this journal in 2007, “On the illuminationist approach to imaginal power: outline of a perspective”, by Mahmoud Khatami, Topoi, 26, 221–229, extensively plagiarized parts of Mikel Dufrenne’s book The phenomenology of aesthetic experience . Entire passages from Sect. 4 of Khatami’s article turned out to be copied from chapter 11 of Dufrenne’s monograph, which was not even included in the list of references. This case of plagiarism first surfaced (...) in early November 2014 on a widely read philosophy blog, Daily Nous, in a thread of comments to a post denouncing similar alleged academic misconducts by the same author . I was first alerted of the matter a few days later, on November 15, 2014, by a fellow scholar who drew my .. (shrink)
The history of fallacy theory is long, distinguished and, admittedly, checkered. I offer a bird eye view on it, with the aim of contrasting the standard conception of fallacies as attractive and universal errors that are hard to eradicate with the contemporary preoccupation with “non-fallacious fallacies”, that is, arguments that fit the bill of one of the traditional fallacies but are actually respectable enough to be used in appropriate contexts. Godden and Zenker have recently argued that reinterpreting alleged fallacies as (...) non-fallacious arguments requires supplementing the textual material with something else, e.g. probability distributions, pragmatic considerations, dialogical context. Thus fallacies remain gappy on all accounts, and this is the hallmark of their failure. However, I argue that such gappiness is typically unproblematic, and thus no more flawed than enthymematic argumentation in general. This, in turn, calls into question the usefulness of the very notion of fallacy. (shrink)
Argumentation is a dialogical attempt to bring about a desired change in the beliefs of another agent – that is, to trigger a specific belief revision process in the mind of such agent. However, so far formal models of belief revision widely neglected any systematic comparison with argumentation theories, to the point that even the simplest argumentation structures cannot be captured within such models. In this essay, we endeavour to bring together argumentation and belief revision in the same formal framework, (...) and to highlight the important role played by Toulmin’s layout of argument in fostering such integration. (shrink)
This article, Piaget’s theory of moral development in play behaviour is critically reviewed and framed within the philosophical debate on morality. On this basis, an alternative socio-cognitive model for describing normative evolution in play development is proposed. Special attention is paid to the transition from children’s play to adult games, for the purpose of demonstrating that some relevant features of morality stagnate, rather than progress, during such transition. Finally, some speculations are offered on the connection between moral involution in play (...) and ethical behaviour in life, with reference to contemporary Western societies. (shrink)
Hample, Paglieri, and Na’s model of argument engagement proposes that people en-gage in arguments when they perceive the benefits of arguing to be greater than the costs of doing so. This paper tests the model in Romania, a different culture than the one in which the model was developed, by using a 2 x 2 design.
From a decision theoretic perspective, arguments stem from decisions made by arguers. Despite some promising results, this approach remains underdeveloped in argumentation theories, mostly because it is assumed to be merely descriptive. This assumption is mistaken: considering arguments as the product of decisions brings into play various normative models of rational choice. The challenge is rather to reconcile strategic rationality with other normative constraints relevant for argumentation, such as inferential validity and dialectical appropriateness.
This paper outlines an integrated approach to trust and relevance with respect to arguments: in particular, it is suggested that trust in relevance has a central role in argumentation. We first distinguish two types of argumentative relevance: internal relevance, i.e. the extent to which a premise has a bearing on its purported conclusion, and external relevance, i.e. a measure of how much a whole argument is pertinent to the matter under discussion, in the broader dialogical context where it is proposed. (...) Then, we argue that judgements of internal relevance heavily rely on trust, and that such trust, although occasionally misplaced , is nonetheless based on several reasons, and thus often justified, by either epistemic or pragmatic considerations. We conclude by sketching potential methods to formally model trust in argumentative relevance, and briefly discussing the technological implications of this line of research. (shrink)
This topos is focused on intentions, with an emphasis on integrating philosophical analysis and empirical findings. Theorizing about human action has a long history in philosophy, and the nature of intention and intentional action has received a lot of attention in recent analytic philosophy. At the same time, intentional action has become an empirically studied phenomenon in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, artificial intelligence, and robotics. Many results obtained in these areas have been incorporated within the current philosophical debate, while at the (...) same time scientists have often adopted in their experiments and models philosophical assumptions on the nature of intention and intentional action. As a result, the study of intentions is nowadays a thriving enterprise, where both conceptual and empirical issues are discussed in a dialogue across disciplines. This is well reflected in the selection of papers published here.Davide Rigoni and Marcel Brass discuss the social and n. (shrink)
True to its sensorimotor inspiration, Hurley's shared circuits model (SCM) describes goal-states only within a homeostatic mechanism for action control, neglecting to consider other functions of goals control freaks.”.
In this brief commentary of Kamila Debowska-Kozlowska’s insightful analysis of persuasive outcomes (Processing topics from the Beneficial Cognitive Model in partially and over-successful persuasion dialogues. Argumentation, 2014), I articulate some suggestions for future development of her ideas. My main claim is that, while instances of partially and over-successful persuasion are indeed worthy of further theoretical inquiry, the topical analysis proposed by Debowska-Kozlowska may benefit from integration with other approaches.
Illusionism is a prominent hypothesis about action control, according to which acts that we consider voluntary are nevertheless caused by unconscious brain events, and thus our subjective experience of consciously willing them is ultimately illusory. Illusionism can be understood as either an ontological thesis or a phenomenological claim, but both versions are vulnerable to a line of attack based on the role of long-term planning in action control. According to this objection, the evidence upon which illusionism rests is confined to (...) short-term intentions, so it is not sufficient to justify broader conclusions on the causal inefficacy of conscious will. In this essay we reconstruct the logic of this objection against illusionism, clarify why surveying folk intuitions on conscious distal intentions is essential to the debate, and present a study in which the role of conscious planning in intentionality judgment is clearly revealed. We also present other relevant findi... (shrink)