Three contrasting approaches to the epistemology of argument are presented. Each one is naturalistic, drawing upon successful practices as the basis for epistemological virtue. But each looks at very different sorts of practices and they differ greatly as to the manner with which relevant practices may be described. My own contribution relies on a metamathematical reconstruction of mature science, and as such, is a radical break with the usual approaches within the theory of argument.
In this article it is argued that a complex model that includes Toulmin's functional account of argument, the pragma-dialectical stage analysis of argumentation offered by the Amsterdam School, and criteria developed in critical thinking theory, can be used to account for the normativity and field-dependence of argumentation in science. A pragma-dialectical interpretation of the four main elements of Toulmin's model, and a revised account of the double role of warrants, illuminates the domain specificity of scientific argumentation and the restrictions to (...) which the confrontation and opening stages of scientific critical discussions are subjected. In regard to the argumentation stage, examples are given to show that a general account of argumentation, as advocated by informal logicians, is not applicable to arguments in science. Furthermore, although patterns of inference differ in various scientific practices, deductive validity is argued to be a crucial notion in the assessment of scientific arguments. Finally, some remarks are made concerning the burden of proof and the concluding stage of scientific argumentation. (shrink)
The periodic table may be seen as the most successful example of inquiry in the history of science, both in terms of practical application and theoretic understanding. As such, it serves as a model for truth as it emerges from inquiry. This paper offers a sketch of a central moment in the history of chemistry that illustrates an intuitive metamathematical construction, a model of emerging truth. The MET, reflecting the structure the surrounds the periodic table, attempts to capture the salient (...) epistemological elements that warrant truth claims based on sets of models that are progressive in light of both empirical and theoretical advance seen over time. (shrink)
Recently Erik Scerri has published an influential philosophical history of the development of the Periodic Table. Following Scerri’s account, I will explore the main thread of the arguments responsible for the remarkable advancement of scientific understanding that the Periodic Table represents. I will argue that the history of disputation at crucial junctures in the debate shows sensitivity to the aspects of truth that are captured by my model of truth in inquiry. The availability of a clear and explicit model of (...) truth in inquiry is of crucial importance as a response to post-modernist and other relativistic accounts of inquiry. It shows that despite such apparent sociological constraints as acceptability a robust theory of truth is available as a foundation for evaluating argumentation. (shrink)
A narrative review of a 35-year career in critical thinking reflecting an idiosyncratic approach to both practical and theoretical matters. The social as well as the intellectual context is described. Critical thinking across the disciplines and metamathematics are discussed as alternatives to more standard perspectives such as informal logic.
Community of inquiry is most often seen as a dialogical procedure for the cooperative development of reasonable approaches to knowledge and meaning. This reflects a deep commitment to normatively based reasoning that is pervasive in a wide range of approaches to critical thinking and argument, where the underlying theory of reasoning is logic driven, whether formal or informal. The commitment to normative reasoning is deeply historical reflecting the fundamental distinction between reason and emotion. Despite the deep roots of the distinction (...) and its canonization in current educational thought, contemporary cognitive neuroscience presents a fundamental challenge to the viability of the distinction and thus to any effort that sees education for reasonable judgment to be based on the remediation of cognition in isolation from its roots in the emotions. Cognitive neuroscience looks at the deep connections between emotion and memory, information retrieval, and resistance to refutation. This conforms with earlier studies in experimental psychology, which showed resistance to changing beliefs in the face of evidence, including evidence based on personal experience. This paper will look at the recent research including speculations from neurological modeling that shows the depth of connection between, emotions, memory and reasoning. It will draw implications for dialogic thinking within a community of inquiry including systematic self-reflection as an essential aspect of critical thinking. (shrink)
For those of us who have experienced Philosophy for Children in the schools, it has become increasingly clear that the program meets the educational needs of school children viewed as autonomous and thoughtful rational agents. As expressed by Matthew Lipman, philosophy is concerned with "the improvement of reasoning proficiencies, clarification of concepts, analysis of meanings, and fostering of attitudes that dispose us to wonder, inquire, and seek meaning and truth." These traditional philosophical goals, as implemented through the various curricula developed (...) by the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children yield benefits that rebound to the advantage of both teachers and students. (shrink)
The problem of what Philosophy is and how it relates to the contemporary concern with thinking and reasoning is one of the first items on the agenda when introducing teachers to Philosophy for Children. Professor Cannon began offering the teachers he trains an overview of these subjects in an attempt to give them a map to some of the areas he and they were to examine during the subsequent workshop. The following is a result of our collaboration in refining this (...) material, which we now use in our teacher training workshops. We offer it in hope that it will be of use to others. (shrink)
Informal logic offers a radical new perspective on the evaluation of arguments. But little work has been done on how deep concepts in the logical foundations of argument need to be modified in light of such efforts. This paper offers an indication of what might be done by sketching a new approach to the theory of entailment, truth and relevance.
In a number of recent discussions of non-standard, Philosophy programs vaarious ages have been identified as the focus for spontaneous or exceptional interest in philosophising. Such claims, supporting a particular population as naturally suited to philosophical inquiry, are based as often as not, on anecdotes that exhibit telling instances of philosophical activity. Needless to say, such motivated activity occurring spontaneously and outside of a formal classroom may occur in many contexts and at various ages. If professional educators egar to support (...) philsophical programs on the basis of the naturalness of the philosophical enterprise are to warrant their interest on the basis of claims to age-appropriateness, some reasonable attempt at gathering empirical data is required. We offer the questionaire on the following pages as a probe to be used by interested educators and others. (shrink)
The relation between critical thinking and race prejudice can be made obvious, once we grant that race prejudice cannot be supported by good reasons. For, if, as Harvey Siegel has pointed out, critical thinking is being "appropriately moved by reasons," then holding racially prejudiced beliefs is to believe without being appropriately moved by reasons, thereby being, in this regard at least, an uncritical thinker. A practical corollary of this, for those of us who espouse critical thinking as an educational ideal, (...) is that it is incumbent upon us to speak to the issue of race prejudice, an obvious and glaringly pernicious example of uncritical thought that affects one of, if not the most, central social and ethical issues of our times. (shrink)
The integrity of a practice requires critical self-reflection. Such critical self-reflection, it can be argued, requires for its objectivity the participation of reasonable individuals constituting a community whose members present their reasoned analyses for inter-subjective interpretation and assessment. Philosophy for Children, therefore, must demand of its participants an on-going consideration of its theory and its practice. This paper is a call for such continued and reasonable critical self-reflection.