He further argues that it is necessary to rethink traditional conceptions of argument, and to find a position that avoids the limitations of both the highly abstract approach of formal logic and the highly contextualized approaches of rhetoric and communication theory.".
The problem of defining ‘critical thinking’ needs a fresh approach. When one takes into consideration the sheer quantity of definitions and their obvious differences, an onlooker might be tempted to conclude that there is no inherent meaning to the term: that each author seems to consider that he or she is free to offer a definition that suits them. And, with a few exceptions, there has not been much discussion among proposers about the strength and weaknesses of the attempted definitions. (...) Therefore, the approach we will argue for here is a ‘meta-level approach’: proposers of new definitions of ‘critical thinking’ should begin by arguing that none of the current crop of definitions is viable. They should then state what kind of definition they will offer; then provide the definition and show that it satisfies the criteria stated. Our position is that new definitions should follow this meta-level approach, in addition to avoiding some common pitfalls. (shrink)
The issue of the relationship between formal and informal logic depends strongly on how one understands these two designations. While there is very little disagreement about the nature of formal logic, the same is not true regarding informal logic, which is understood in various (often incompatible) ways by various thinkers. After reviewing some of the more prominent conceptions of informal logic, I will present my own, defend it and then show how informal logic, so understood, is complementary to formal logic.
Criticisms of fallacy theory have been lodged from many different directions. In this paper, I consider the classic criticism of incompleteness by DeMorgan, Finocchiaro's claim that fallacies probably exist only in the mind of the interpreter, McPeck's claim that fallacies are at best context-dependent and Paul's complaints about the teaching of fallacies. I seek not merely to defend fallacy theory against unfair criticisms but also to learn from the criticisms what can be done in order to make fallacy theory a (...) viable theory of criticism. I argue that this will involve several changes: rethinking of the nature of fallacy; addressing some theoretical issues; and presenting fallacy theory in a more rigorous fashion. The paper concludes with reflections on how Quine's ontological advice about the resolution of ontological disputes might be applied to the issue of whether or not there are fallacies. (shrink)
In this paper, I respond to papers on my Manifest Rationality (2000) by Leo Groarke, Hans Hansen, David Hitchcock, and Christopher Tindale presented at the meetings of the Ontario Philosophical Society, October 2000. From the many useful challenges they have directed at my position, I have chosen to focus on two. The dominant issue raised by their papers concerns my definition of argument, and particularly problems with the idea of a dialectical tier. I have selected that as the first strand. (...) Second, several have raised questions that deal with the relationship between logic, rhetoric and dialectic. That is the second strand. (shrink)
This paper is an exercise in intellectual history, an attempt to understand how a specific term—”informal logic”— came to be interpreted in so many different ways. I trace the emergence and development of “informal logic” to help explain the many different meanings, how they emerged and how they are related. This paper is also, to some degree, an account of a movement that developed outside the mainstream of philosophy, whose origins lie in a desire to make logic useful (echoing Dewey).
The theories of complexity comprise a system of great breadth. But what is included under this umbrella? Here we attempt a portrait of complexity theory, seen through the lens of complexity theory itself. That is, we portray the subject as an evolving complex dynamical system, or social network, with bifurcations, emergent properties, and so on. This is a capsule history covering the twentieth century. Extensive background data may be seen at www.visual-chaos.org/complexity.
In this paper, we will explore two initiatives that focus on the importance of employing logical theories in educating people how to think and reason properly, one in Poland: The Lvov-Warsaw School; the other in North America: The Informal Logic Initiative. These two movements differ in the logical means and skills that they focus on. However, we believe that they share a common purpose: to educate students in logic and reasoning (logical education conceived as a process) so that they may (...) be able to apply their skills to analyze the issues in their society (logical culture as a result of logical education). The aim of the paper is to justify this claim by exploring research objectives and products that are common to both movements. (shrink)
Many argumentation theorists have adopted the view that argumentation may be approached from three different perspectives: the logical, the dialectical and the rhetorical—which I refer to as the Triumvirate.). According to Wenzel, the conceptual foundation for this Triumvirate is the distinction between argumentation as product, as process and as procedure. In this paper, I want to raise questions about the Triumvirate View and the Tripartite Distinction on which it is based.
In her 1997 OSSA paper, Trudy Govier discusses in detail my thesis that arguers have dialectical obligations. In a 1998 paper she further examines this thesis to see whether it is viable and concludes that it faces serious problems. In this paper, I assess the state of the thesis in light of Govier's discussion of it. I urge that we have something to gain from the empirical turn--from investigating best practices. At the end, I take a step back to ask (...) what is really at issue here and how it connect s to other issues in the theory of argument. (shrink)
In this reflection piece, Ralph Johnson provides an account of the development of informal logic and how it intersected with the Critical Thinking Movement. Section I is an account of the origins of what Johnson calls the “Informal Logic Initiative.” Section II discusses how the Informal Logic Initiative connected with the Critical Thinking Movement at the Sonoma State University Conferences starting in 1981. Section III discusses the relationship between logic and critical thinking. Section IV describes “The Network Problem,” which (...) emerged for Johnson in the mid-1980s – largely as a result of his experiences at critical thinking conferences, especially the Sonoma State conference. Section V expresses some concerns about the current status of critical thinking as an educational idea and about the Critical Thinking Movement. (shrink)
One of the distinctive features of rhetorical approaches to the study of argumentation is the emphasis placed on the role of the audience. Here one thinks immediately of the influence of Chaïm Perelman and of his and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca’s The New Rhetoric. There is something importantly right about an audience-centered approach to argumentation. Clearly if you wish to persuade an audience of your position (or gain the acceptance of your thesis), you must engage that audience and in some sense carry (...) them with you from your starting points to your conclusion. Still, when I read theorists who place strong emphasis on the role of audience (for example, Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca in The New Rhetoric .. (shrink)
One of the traditional ways in which we manage dissensus is by argumentation, which may be construed as the attempt of the proponent to persuade rationally the other party of the truth of some thesis. To achieve this, the arguer will often anticipate a possible objection. In this paper, I attempt to shed light on the normative aspect of the task of anticipating objections. I deal with such questions as: How is the arguer to anticipate objections? Which of the anticipated (...) objections are to be dealt with? What is required to deal successfully with an objection? (shrink)
The individual soul is an ageless idea, attested in prehistoric times by the oral traditions of all cultures. But as far as we know, it enters history in ancient Egypt. I will begin with the individual soul in ancient Egypt, then recount the birth of the world soul in the Pythagorean community of ancient Greece, and trace it through the Western Esoteric Tradition until its demise in Kepler's writings, along with the rise of modern science, around 1600 CE. Then I (...) tell of the rebirth of the world soul recently, in new branches of mathematics. (shrink)
In Argument, Inference and Dialectic Pinto argues that critical practice can furnish us with the necessary guidance to answer our questions about argument and inference; we do not need to develop a theory of argument/inference. Pinto’s provocative remarks raise questions about the appeal to practice, and recall problems that Toulmin encounters in development of his innovative theory in The Uses of Argument. In this paper, I juxtapose and reflect on these developments.
Harald Wohlrapp’s The Concept of Argument has made a significant contribution to the argumentation theory by proposing a new approach to our way of thinking about arguments and argumentation that in which he proposes a criterion of criterial validity: An thesis is valid, if there are no open objections against the justification offered for it. In this paper, I will focus on some issues and difficulties with that principle.