A Theory of Argument is an advanced textbook intended for students in philosophy, communications studies and linguistics who have completed at least one course in argumentation theory, information logic, critical thinking or formal logic. Containing nearly 400 exercises, Mark Vorobej develops a novel approach to argument interpretation and evaluation. One of the key themes of the book is that we cannot succeed in distinguishing good argument from bad arguments until we learn to listen carefully to others. Part I develops a (...) relativistic account of argument cogency that allows for rational disagreement. Part II offers a comprehensive and rigorous account of argument diagramming. Hybrid arguments are contrasted with linked and convergent arguments, and a novel technique is introduced for graphically recording disagreements with authorial claims. (shrink)
This study focuses on conceptual questions that arise when we explore the fundamental aspects of violence. Mark Vorobej teases apart what is meant by the term ‘violence,’ showing that it is a surprisingly complex, unwieldy and highly contested concept. Rather than attempting to develop a fixed definition of violence, Vorobej explores the varied dimensions of the phenomenon of violence and the questions they raise, addressing the criteria of harm, agency, victimhood, instrumentality, and normativity. Vorobej uses this multifaceted understanding of violence (...) to engage with and complicate existing approaches to the essential nature of violence: first, Vorobej explores the liberal tradition that ties violence to the intentional infliction of harm, and that grows out of a concern for protecting individual liberty or autonomy. He goes on to explore a more progressive tradition – one that is usually associated with the political left – that ties violence to the bare occurrence of harm, and that is more concerned with an equitable promotion of human welfare than with the protection of individual liberty. Finally, the book turns to a tradition that operates with a more robust normative characterization of violence as a morally flawed response to the ontological fact of vulnerability. This nuanced and in-depth study of the nature of violence will be especially relevant to researchers in applied ethics, peace studies and political philosophy. (shrink)
Sometimes logical support for a conclusion is provided exclusively by premises which are independently relevant to that conclusion. At other times, support is provided exclusively by independently irrelevant premises. On still other occasions, relevant and irrelevant premises may collectively offer a distinctive pattern of support. This paper provides a rigorous account of some of these differences in terms of a tripartite classification of convergent, linked and hybrid arguments. These various arguments are defined, diagrammed, and some of their logical properties are (...) explored. (shrink)
What is the nature of rational disagreement? A number of philosophers have recently addressed this question by examining how we should respond to epistemic conflict with a so-called epistemic peer—that is, someone over whom you enjoy no epistemic advantage. Some say that you're rationally required to suspend judgment in these cases—thereby denying the very possibility of a certain kind of rational disagreement. Others say that it's permissible to retain your beliefs even in the face of epistemic conflict. By distinguishing between (...) close peers and distant peers, I argue that it's rational to respond to different types of peers in different ways. I also argue that remote peers—a particularly distant kind of distant peer—provide us with an important lesson in epistemic humility. (shrink)
This paper defends the view that the classification of an argument as being deductive ought to rest exclusively upon psychological considerations; specifically, upon whether the argument's author holds certain beliefs. This account is justified on theoretical and pedagogical grounds, and situated within a general taxonomy of competing proposals. Epistemological difficulties involved in the application of psychological definitions are recognized but claimed to be ineliminable from the praetice of argumentation. The paper concludes by discussing embryonic arguments where the author's relevant beliefs (...) are not sufficiently fine-grained so as to accord the argument deductive or inductive status. (shrink)
There are many radically different ways of understanding the distinction between linked and convergent arguments. This paper provides a generic model which enables one to articulate in a rigorous manner the important differences as well as the underlying similarities that exist between competing proposals. In addition, the paper offers a TRUE (Type Reduction Upon Elimination) test for distinguishing linked from convergent arguments which best captures the informal intuition that linked arguments are especially vulnerable to local criticisms pertaining to premise acceptability.
Suppose that two nations A and B each possess a nuclear arsenal and are rational utility-maximizers. Suppose further that B has some interest in provoking A, possibly by attacking her with nuclear weapons. In the hope of preventing this from happening, A informs B of à conditional intention on her part to retaliate against B with nuclear weapons should B in fact attack A. By doing so A attempts to lower the probability of B's attacking A by increasing B's estimate (...) of the conditional probability of A's retaliating once provoked. Problematic deterrent situations are those in which B prefers to attack A without retaliation, A prefers most of all that she not be attacked, and A prefers an attack-with-no-retaliation scenario to an attack-with-retaliation scenario. Feature is à result of the fact that A prefers to minimize nuclear devastation, i.e., A would herself be worse off retaliating than not retaliating to an attack. Now, if B knows all of this to be the case then A's expression of a conditional intention to retaliate will not in fact deter B from attacking, since A is rational and will not act contrary to her own best interests. B has no reason to fear A's retaliation and therefore B has no reason not to attack. Deterrence, it seems, is an irrational policy among fully rational actors. This is one version of the so-called paradox of deter-rence. If expressing a conditional retaliatory intention is the best way for A to ward off an attack, then the paradox can be strengthened as follows: It is rational for A to intend to act irrationally. (shrink)
Suppose that John has a moral obligation to stop smoking given that smoking is dangerous to his health. Suppose further that smoking is dangerous to his health. Does it follow that John has a moral obligation to stop smoking? Although intuition inclines one to answer in the affirmative, recent developments in deontic logic apparently call this inference into question. The issue at hand is whether unconditional obligations are detachable from conditional obligations on the basis of purely factual considerations. I believe (...) that they are not. In the course of arguing for this position I defend a novel restricted rule of detachment which is constructed out of both factual and normative components. (shrink)
In this paper I demonstrate that most textbook accounts of the linked/convergent distinction fail to conform to the widespread intuition that all valid arguments ought to be classified as linked arguments. I also show that standard textbook accounts of linkage and convergence cannot provide a satisfactory treatment of fallacies of irrelevance and, due to their general insensitivity to the epistemic context in which arguments are offered, must be supplemented by subjective accounts of linkage and convergence which appeal exclusively to authorial (...) beliefs and intentions. (shrink)
L'horreur en art vise à effrayer, bouleverser, dégoûter et terroriser. Puisque nous ne sommes pas normalement attirés par de ielles expériences, pourquoi quiconque s'exposerait-il délibérément a la fiction d'horreur? Noel Carroll soutient que le caractère constant du phénomène de l'horreur en art tient à certains plaisirs d'ordre cognitif, qui résultent de la satisfaction de notre curiosité naturelle à l'ègard des monstres. Je soutiens, quant è moi, que la solution cognitive de Carroll auparadoxe de l'horreur est profondément erronée, étant donné la (...) façon dont les monsters sont représentés dans la fiction d'horreur; j'explore brievement une approche plus prometteuse, qui traite les monstres comme des moyens pour acquerir la connaissance de soi. (shrink)
Over the past forty years, Johan Galtung has extensively employed a broad definition of peace that incorporates the notion of structural violence. Roughly, structural violence is violence that results in harm but is not caused by a clearly identifiable actor, and positive peace is the absence of structural violence. Galtung’s account of structural violence, while highly influential, has recently been subjected to a surprisingly hostile critique by C. A. J. Coady in his 2008 study, Morality and Political Violence. In this (...) paper I show how a careful reading of Galtung’s work undercuts each of Coady’s criticisms. I conclude that the notion of structural violence remains a fruitful tool for peace researchers within the twenty-first century. (shrink)
Norman Daniels is perhaps best known as one of America’s foremost champions of coherentist moral epistemology, and the justificatory method of wide reflective equilibrium in particular. The striking coherence of Daniels’s career itself is evident in this collection of sixteen of his essays, composed over an eighteen-year period. To a large extent, these essays extend the work of John Rawls—either by attempting to make greater theoretical sense of WRE, or by applying abstract Rawlsian arguments to concrete social problems in applied (...) ethics. These thoroughly engaging essays are uniformly of high calibre. They are tightly argued, carefully researched, and intellectually rich and rewarding. Daniels’s writing is a model of clarity, and, while his work genuinely breaks much new ground, he is refreshingly honest about the limitations of his findings, and cognizant of the force of opposing viewpoints. (shrink)
Some of Jonathan Dancy's strongest arguments in support of moral particularism depend crucially upon the distinction he draws between three different kinds of relevance relations -- favourers, intensifiers and enablers. In this paper I generalize certain features of Dancy's account of the different roles that premises can play in moral argumentation. Most significantly, I argue that both intensifiers and enablers play parallel roles within different kinds of (more primitive) supplementation relations. This matters since it is common for people to accept (...) Dancy's account of intensifiers while remaining suspicious of his notion of enablers. But this asymmetrical response, I argue, cannot be justified. This account also generates a simpler and more elegant argument in support of moral particularism. (shrink)
This paper explores the question of how films may be used to enhance the teaching of fallacies. Theoretical questions about the nature of fallacies will be addressed along with pedagogical issues. The paper is structured around a case study—an examination of various arguments from ignorance as articulated by fictional characters in the 1964 Hammer horror production of The Gorgon.
Some of Jonathan Dancy's strongest arguments in support of moral particularism depend crucially upon the distinction he draws between three different kinds of relevance relations -- favourers, intensifiers and enablers. In this paper I generalize certain features of Dancy's account of the different roles that premises can play in moral argumentation. Most significantly, I argue that both intensifiers and enablers play parallel roles within different kinds of supplementation relations. This matters since it is common for people to accept Dancy's account (...) of intensifiers while remaining suspicious of his notion of enablers. But this asymmetrical response, I argue, cannot be justified. This account also generates a simpler and more elegant argument in support of moral particularism. (shrink)
James E. Tomberlin  has recently argued that the logical systems of conditional obligation proposed by Azizah al-Hibri  and Peter Mott  are incapable of resolving at least one variant of the notorious contrary to duty imperative paradox, formulated originally by Chisholm . Tomberlin concedes that these systems offer the very best of the' “conditional obligation approach” to deontic logic and concludes his critical discussion with the pessimistic remark that “the best of this approach is simply not good enough. (...) Deontic logic … is obliged to turn elsewhere for its proper formulation and resolution of the deontic paradoxes”. Below I argue that Tomberlin's three central arguments against al-Hibri and Mott are fallacious. (shrink)
“A good formula,” writes Gensler, “is a powerful thing. Life would be impoverished if we had no formulas”. The formulas which most interest Gensler are those formal ethical principles which are expressible using only variables and constants, and which are neutral with respect to meta-ethical and normative issues, and so “can supplement and enhance virtually any approach to ethics”. “Formal ethics” is the systematic study of such formulas, including the principles of logicality, conscientiousness, universalizability, and the golden rule.