About this topic
Summary Informal Logic is not an alternative to formal logic. It is, broadly, the normative philosophical study of reasoning, inference and argumentation in natural language. Informal logic seeks to provide advice to "real life" arguers in the hopes of enabling them to argue more reasonably, to avoid fallacies, and to achieve greater success in persuasion through cogent, well-reasoned argumentation. Another goal of informal logic is to improve the teaching of reasoning skills.  Some issues that might be considered distinctive to informal logic include: the metaphysical question of whether arguments are abstract objects, events, or something else, what makes arguments in natural languages good or bad, the relationship between argument and justification, theories of virtuous arguing, the nature of fallacies, the problem of deep disagreement between both peer and non-peer arguers, the nature of multi-modal arguments (arguments critically involving non-linguistic elements like images or sounds), and how to achieve more socially just norms and practices of everyday argumentation.
Key works Many of the interests now gathered under the banner of informal logic well predate the emergence of the field as a distinct area of study. Arguably, the tradition begins with Aristotle, the Organon and the Rhetoric both being of central relevance. The first section of Hansen & Pinto 1995 contains entries by writers like Locke, Whately, and Mill, all of whom are important for the history of informal logic. In the 20th century, Hamblin 1970, Toulmin 2003, and Perelman 1969 are considered seminal works in the field. Wellman 1971 is important because it is a point of continuity between the history of attempts in ethics to arrive at standards of good moral reasoning distinct from the canons of formal deductive logic, and informal logic's broader attempt to do the same. A good guide to the early history of informal logic can be found in Johnson 2014. It is also important to note the confluence between early work on critical thinking and informal logic. This is captured in Johnson 2012.
Introductions Walton 2008 and Govier 1991 are accessible textbooks by two of the field's most influential writers. Important technical treatments showcasing the current diversity of approaches within informal logic include the following: Pinto 2010, Tindale 2013, Johnson 2000, Freeman 2004, Walton et al 2008, Hitchcock 2006, Groarke 2015 and Finocchiaro 2013.
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  1. E. J. A. (1965). The Art of Critical Thinking. [REVIEW] Review of Metaphysics 19 (2):381-381.
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  2. S. C. A. (1978). Dialectics. Review of Metaphysics 32 (2):368-368.
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  3. Mark Aakhus (2014). Frans H. Van Eemeren and Bart Garssen : Topical Themes in Argumentation Theory: Twenty Exploratory Studies. Argumentation 28 (4):489-492.
    Every 4 years, for the past three decades, the world of argumentation research has gathered in Amsterdam at the International Society for the Study of Argumentation conferences to explore advances in understanding argumentation and how argumentation advances our understanding of the human condition. While comprehensive proceedings of selected papers are produced to document what has transpired in the world of argumentation over the preceding 4 years, there remains the important matter of taking the intellectual pulse of the world’s argumentation scholars, (...)
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  4. Mark Aakhus (2003). Neither Naïve nor Critical Reconstruction: Dispute Mediators, Impasse, and the Design of Argumentation. Argumentation 17 (3):265-290.
    This study investigates how dispute-mediators handle impasse in the re-negotiation of divorce decrees by divorced couples. Three sources of impasse and three strategies for handling impasse are identified based on analysis of mediation transcripts. The concern here lies not so much in the disputant's arguments but in the discussion procedures dispute-mediators use to craft the disputant's argumentation into a tool to solve conflict. Their moves are understood here as a practice of reconstructing argumentative discourse that is neither naïve nor critical (...)
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  5. Mark Aaknus, Smaranda Muresan & Nina Wacholder, Integrating Natural Language Processing and Pragmatic Argumentation Theories for Argumentation Support.
    Natural language processing research and design that aims to model and detect opposition in text for the purpose of opinion classification, sentiment analysis, and meeting tracking, generally excludes the interactional, pragmatic aspects of online text. We propose that a promising direction for NLP is to incorporate the insights of pragmatic, dialectical theories of argumentation to more fully exploit the potential of NLP to offer sound, robust systems for various kinds of argumentation support.
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  6. Aulis Aarnio & Werner Krawietz (2000). The Reasonable as Rational? On Legal Argumentation and Justification : Festschrift for Aulis Aarnio. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
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  7. Aulis Aarnio, Ilkka Niiniluoto & Jyrki Uusitalo (1981). Methodologie Und Erkenntnistheorie der Juristischen Argumentation Beiträge des Internationalen Symposions "Argumentation in Legal Science" Vom 10. Bis 12. Dezember 1979 in Helsinki. [REVIEW] Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
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  8. Andrew Aberdein (forthcoming). The Vices of Argument. Topoi.
    What should a virtue theory of argumentation say about fallacious reasoning? If good arguments are virtuous, then fallacies are vicious. Yet fallacies cannot just be identified with vices, since vices are dispositional properties of agents whereas fallacies are types of argument. Rather, if the normativity of good argumentation is explicable in terms of virtues, we should expect the wrongness of bad argumentation to be explicable in terms of vices. This approach is defended through analysis of several fallacies, with particular emphasis (...)
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  9. Andrew Aberdein (2014). In Defence of Virtue: The Legitimacy of Agent-Based Argument Appraisal. Informal Logic 34 (1):77-93.
    Several authors have recently begun to apply virtue theory to argumentation. Critics of this programme have suggested that no such theory can avoid committing an ad hominem fallacy. This criticism is shown to trade unsuccessfully on an ambiguity in the definition of ad hominem. The ambiguity is resolved and a virtue-theoretic account of ad hominem reasoning is defended.
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  10. Andrew Aberdein (2013). Fallacy and Argumentational Vice. In Dima Mohammed & Marcin Lewinski (eds.), Virtues of argumentation: Proceedings of the 10th International Conference of the Ontario Society for the Study of Argumentation (OSSA), May 22–25, 2013. OSSA
    If good argument is virtuous, then fallacies are vicious. Yet fallacies cannot just be identified with vices, since vices are dispositional properties of agents whereas fallacies are types of argument. Rather, if the normativity of good argumentation is explicable in terms of virtues, we should expect the wrongness of fallacies to be explicable in terms of vices. This approach is defended through case studies of several fallacies, with particular emphasis on the ad hominem.
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  11. Andrew Aberdein (2011). The Dialectical Tier of Mathematical Proof. In Frank Zenker (ed.), Argumentation: Cognition & Community. Proceedings of the 9th International Conference of the Ontario Society for the Study of Argumentation (OSSA), May 18--21, 2011. OSSA
    Ralph Johnson argues that mathematical proofs lack a dialectical tier, and thereby do not qualify as arguments. This paper argues that, despite this disavowal, Johnson’s account provides a compelling model of mathematical proof. The illative core of mathematical arguments is held to strict standards of rigour. However, compliance with these standards is itself a matter of argument, and susceptible to challenge. Hence much actual mathematical practice takes place in the dialectical tier.
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  12. Andrew Aberdein (2010). Virtue in Argument. Argumentation 24 (2):165-179.
    Virtue theories have become influential in ethics and epistemology. This paper argues for a similar approach to argumentation. Several potential obstacles to virtue theories in general, and to this new application in particular, are considered and rejected. A first attempt is made at a survey of argumentational virtues, and finally it is argued that the dialectical nature of argumentation makes it particularly suited for virtue theoretic analysis.
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  13. Andrew Aberdein (2010). Rationale of the Mathematical Joke. In Alison Pease, Markus Guhe & Alan Smaill (eds.), Proceedings of AISB 2010 Symposium on Mathematical Practice and Cognition. AISB 1-6.
    A widely circulated list of spurious proof types may help to clarify our understanding of informal mathematical reasoning. An account in terms of argumentation schemes is proposed.
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  14. Andrew Aberdein (2009). Argumentation Schemes and Communities of Argumentational Practice. In Juho Ritola (ed.), Argument Cultures: Proceedings of OSSA 2009. OSSA
    Is it possible to distinguish communities of arguers by tracking the argumentation schemes they employ? There are many ways of relating schemes to communities, but not all are productive. Attention must be paid not only to the admissibility of schemes within a community of argumentational practice, but also to their comparative frequency. Two examples are discussed: informal mathematics, a convenient source of well-documented argumentational practice, and anthropological evidence of nonstandard reasoning.
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  15. Andrew Aberdein (2009). Commentary on Menashe Schwed, "A Wittgensteinian Approach to Rationality in Argumentation". In Juho Ritola (ed.), Argument cultures: Proceedings of OSSA 2009. OSSA
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  16. Andrew Aberdein (2007). Fallacies in Mathematics. Proceedings of the British Society for Research Into Learning Mathematics 27 (3):1-6.
    This paper considers the application to mathematical fallacies of techniques drawn from informal logic, specifically the use of ”argument schemes’. One such scheme, for Appeal to Expert Opinion, is considered in some detail.
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  17. Andrew Aberdein (2006). Raising the Tone: Definition, Bullshit, and the Definition of Bullshit. In G. Reisch & G. Hardcastle (eds.), Bullshit and Philosophy. Open Court 151-169.
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  18. Andrew Aberdein (2006). The Informal Logic of Mathematical Proof. In Reuben Hersh (ed.), 18 Unconventional Essays About the Nature of Mathematics. Springer-Verlag 56-70.
    Informal logic is a method of argument analysis which is complementary to that of formal logic, providing for the pragmatic treatment of features of argumentation which cannot be reduced to logical form. The central claim of this paper is that a more nuanced understanding of mathematical proof and discovery may be achieved by paying attention to the aspects of mathematical argumentation which can be captured by informal, rather than formal, logic. Two accounts of argumentation are considered: the pioneering work of (...)
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  19. Andrew Aberdein (2006). Managing Informal Mathematical Knowledge: Techniques From Informal Logic. Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence 4108:208--221.
    Much work in MKM depends on the application of formal logic to mathematics. However, much mathematical knowledge is informal. Luckily, formal logic only represents one tradition in logic, specifically the modeling of inference in terms of logical form. Many inferences cannot be captured in this manner. The study of such inferences is still within the domain of logic, and is sometimes called informal logic. This paper explores some of the benefits informal logic may have for the management of informal mathematical (...)
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  20. Andrew Aberdein (2006). Proofs and Rebuttals: Applying Stephen Toulmin's Layout of Arguments to Mathematical Proof. In Marta Bílková & Ondřej Tomala (eds.), The Logica Yearbook 2005. Filosofia 11-23.
    This paper explores some of the benefits informal logic may have for the analysis of mathematical inference. It shows how Stephen Toulmin’s pioneering treatment of defeasible argumentation may be extended to cover the more complex structure of mathematical proof. Several common proof techniques are represented, including induction, proof by cases, and proof by contradiction. Affinities between the resulting system and Imre Lakatos’s discussion of mathematical proof are then explored.
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  21. Andrew Aberdein (2005). The Uses of Argument in Mathematics. Argumentation 19 (3):287-301.
    Stephen Toulmin once observed that ”it has never been customary for philosophers to pay much attention to the rhetoric of mathematical debate’ [Toulmin et al., 1979, An Introduction to Reasoning, Macmillan, London, p. 89]. Might the application of Toulmin’s layout of arguments to mathematics remedy this oversight? Toulmin’s critics fault the layout as requiring so much abstraction as to permit incompatible reconstructions. Mathematical proofs may indeed be represented by fundamentally distinct layouts. However, cases of genuine conflict characteristically reflect an underlying (...)
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  22. Andrew Aberdein (2001). Douglas Walton, One-Sided Arguments: A Dialectical Analysis of Bias. [REVIEW] Philosophy in Review 21 (2):152-154.
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  23. Andrew Aberdein (1997). Persuasive Definition. In H. V. Hansen, C. W. Tindale & A. V. Colman (eds.), Argumentation and Rhetoric. Vale
    Charles Stevenson introduced the term 'persuasive definition’ to describe a suspect form of moral argument 'which gives a new conceptual meaning to a familiar word without substantially changing its emotive meaning’. However, as Stevenson acknowledges, such a move can be employed legitimately. If persuasive definition is to be a useful notion, we shall need a criterion for identifying specifically illegitimate usage. I criticize a recent proposed criterion from Keith Burgess-Jackson and offer an alternative.
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  24. Andrew Aberdein & Daniel H. Cohen (2016). Introduction: Virtues and Arguments. Topoi 35 (2):339-343.
    It has been a decade since the phrase virtue argumentation was introduced, and while it would be an exaggeration to say that it burst onto the scene, it would be just as much of an understatement to say that it has gone unnoticed. Trying to strike the virtuous mean between the extremes of hyperbole and litotes, then, we can fairly characterize it as a way of thinking about arguments and argumentation that has steadily attracted more and more attention from argumentation (...)
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  25. Andrew Aberdein & Ian J. Dove (eds.) (2013). The Argument of Mathematics. Springer.
    Written by experts in the field, this volume presents a comprehensive investigation into the relationship between argumentation theory and the philosophy of mathematical practice. Argumentation theory studies reasoning and argument, and especially those aspects not addressed, or not addressed well, by formal deduction. The philosophy of mathematical practice diverges from mainstream philosophy of mathematics in the emphasis it places on what the majority of working mathematicians actually do, rather than on mathematical foundations. -/- The book begins by first challenging the (...)
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  26. David M. Adams (2005). Knowing When Disagreements Are Deep. Informal Logic 25 (1):65-77.
    Reasoned disagreement is a pervasive feature of public life, and the persistence of disagreement is sometimes troublesome, reflecting the need to make difficult decisions. Fogelin suggests that parties to a deep disagreement should abandon reason and switch to non-rational persuasion. But how are the parties to know when to make such a switch? I argue that Fogelin's analysis doesn't clearly address this question, and that disputes arising in areas like medical decision making are such that the parties to them have (...)
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  27. João Maurício Adeodato (1999). The Rhetorical Syllogism (Enthymeme) in Judicial Argumentation. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue Internationale de Sémiotique Juridique 12 (2):133-150.
    The thesis here expounded can be divided in three parts: in the first place, it is supposed that the syllogism is not the rhetorical way, and less still the logical way, indeed used to reach the decision in the legal proceedings monopolized by the modern State. At the most, it can be seen as a form of presenting a decision that has already been reached by other means. It sure constitutes a highly functional procedure, effective and legitimating. It is generally (...)
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  28. J. E. Adler (2007). Asymmetrical Analogical Arguments. Argumentation 21 (1):83-92.
    Analogies must be symmetric. If a is like b, then b is like a. So if a has property R, and if R is within the scope of the analogy, then b (probably) has R. However, analogical arguments generally single out, or depend upon, only one of a or b to serve as the basis for the inference. In this respect, analogical arguments are directed by an asymmetry. I defend the importance of this neglected – even when explicitly mentioned – (...)
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  29. Jonathan Adler (2013). Are Conductive Arguments Possible? Argumentation 27 (3):245-257.
    Conductive Arguments are held to be defeasible, non-conclusive, and neither inductive nor deductive (Blair and Johnson in Conductive argument: An overlooked type of defeasible reasoning. College, London, 2011). Of the different kinds of Conductive Arguments, I am concerned only with those for which it is claimed that countervailing considerations detract from the support for the conclusion, complimentary to the positive reasons increasing that support. Here’s an example from Wellman (Challenge and response: justification in ethics. Southern Illinois University Press, Chicago, 1971): (...)
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  30. Jonathan E. Adler (2004). Shedding Dialectical Tiers: A Social-Epistemic View. [REVIEW] Argumentation 18 (3):279-293.
    Is there a duty to respond to objections in order to present a good argument? Ralph Johnson argues that there is such a duty, which he refers to as the ‘dialectical tier’ of an argument. I deny the (alleged) duty primarily on grounds that it would exert too great a demand on arguers, harming argumentation practices. The valuable aim of responding to objections, which Johnson’s dialectical tier is meant to satisfy, can be achieved in better ways, as argumentation is a (...)
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  31. Jonathan E. Adler (1997). Fallacies Not Fallacious: Not! Philosophy and Rhetoric 30 (4):333 - 350.
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  32. Jonathan E. Adler (1993). Critique of an Epistemic Account of Fallacies. Argumentation 7 (3):263-272.
    An epistemic account of fallacies is one which takes it as a necessary condition for a fallacy that it has a tendency to produce false or unwarranted beliefs. The most sophisticated form of this account occurs in an article by Robert J. Fogelin and Timothy J. Duggan (“Fallacies,”Argumentation 1, 1987, pp. 255–262). I criticize the Fogelin and Duggan proposal, in particular, and epistemic accounts, more generally. Though an epistemic approach is attractive, it enlarges the class of fallacies, beyond what would (...)
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  33. Jonathan E. Adler (1991). Critical Thinking, A Deflated Defense: A Critical Study of John E. McPeck's Teaching Critical Thinking: Dialogue and Dialectic. Informal Logic 13 (2).
    A critical study of McPeck's recent book, in which he strengthens and develops his arguments against teaching critical thinking (CT). Accepting McPeck's basic claim that there is no unitary skill of reasoning or thinking, I argue that his strictures on CT courses or programs do not follow. I set out what I consider the proper justification that programs in CT have to meet, and argue both that McPeck demands much more than is required, and also that it is plausible that (...)
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  34. Jonathan E. Adler (1991). Argument Evaluation Contest Results. Informal Logic 13 (3).
    In Vol. XI, No.1, this journal announced an argument analysis contest. Two eminent colleagues agreed to serve as judges-Professor Henry W. Johnstone, Jr. and Professor Michael Scriven. In short order, four entries were received and sent off to the judges, who had no knowledge of the contestants' identities, and in due course the judges' verdicts were delivered. Immediately below we have reproduced the argument which was to be analyzed, along with the rules of the contest, followed by the four entries. (...)
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  35. Jonathan E. Adler (1987). Alternatives, Writing, and the Formulation of a Thesis. Informal Logic 9 (2).
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  36. Jonathan E. Adler (1985). Where Are the Limits to Reconstruction? Informal Logic 7 (1).
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  37. Jonathan E. Adler (1981). Why Be Charitable? Informal Logic 4 (2).
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  38. Jonathan E. Adler & J. Anthony Blair (2000). Belief and Negation. Informal Logic 20 (3).
    This paper argues for the importance of the distinction between internal and external negation over expressions for belief. The common fallacy is to confuse statement like (1) and (2): (1) John believes that the school is not closed on Tuesday; (2) John does not believe that the school is closed on Tuesday. The fallacy has ramifications in teaching, reasoning, and argumentation. Analysis of the fallacy and suggestions for teaching are offered.
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  39. Imran Aijaz, Jonathan McKeown-Green & Aness Webster, Burdens of Proof and the Case for Unevenness.
    How is the burden of proof to be distributed among individuals who are involved in resolving a particular issue? Under what conditions should the burden of proof be distributed unevenly? We distinguish attitudinal from dialectical burdens and argue that these questions should be answered differently, depending on which is in play. One has an attitudinal burden with respect to some proposition when one is required to possess sufficient evidence for it. One has a dialectical burden with respect to some proposition (...)
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  40. Scott F. Aikin (2012). Pregnant Premise Arguments. Informal Logic 32 (3):357-363.
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  41. Scott F. Aikin (2008). Perelmanian Universal Audience and the Epistemic Aspirations of Argument. Philosophy and Rhetoric 41 (3):pp. 238-259.
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  42. Scott F. Aikin (2008). Tu Quoque Arguments and the Significance of Hypocrisy. Informal Logic 28 (2):155-169.
    Though textbook tu quoque arguments are fallacies of relevance, many versions of arguments from hypocrisy are indirectly relevant to the issue. Some arguments from hypocrisy are challenges to the authority of a speaker on the basis of either her sincerity or competency regarding the issue. Other arguments from hypocrisy purport to be evidence of the impracticability of the opponent’s proposals. Further, some versions of hypocrisy charges from impracticability are open to a counter that I will term tu quoque judo.
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  43. Henry Ainsworth & Zachary Coke (1653). The Art of Logick; or the Entire Body of Logick in English. Unfolding to the Meanest Capacity the Way to Dispute Well, and to Refute All Fallacies Whatsoever. By Zachary Coke of Grays-Inn, Gent. Printed by Robert White, for George Calvert, and Are to Be Sold at the Sign of the Half Moon in Pauls Church-Yard, Near to the Little North-Door.
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  44. Sylvie Akiguet & Annie Piolat (1996). Insertion of Connectives by 9- to 11-Year-Old Children in an Argumentative Text. Argumentation 10 (2):253-270.
    The objective of the present study was to show that the use of adversative and conclusive connectives to mark off the prototypical schema of argumentative text begins to set in at approximately the age of 10 or 11. Based on Adam's (1992) proposals, we constituted an argumentative text with two blocks of arguments separated by an adversative instruction (the connective but or an equivalent) and followed by a conclusion introduced by a conclusive instruction (the connective thus or an equivalent). Four (...)
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  45. Khameiel Al-Tamimi, Feminist Alternatives to Traditional Argumentation.
    In this paper, I will look at the critiques that feminists have proposed to existing styles of argumentation. There are two prominent lines of feminist criticism of argumentation: the epistemic critique which argues that women were socialized to argue differently and the equity critique which asserts that argumentation is a patriarchal attempt to dominate one another, as such it is adversarial in nature. I will then discuss the alternatives feminists have proposed to traditional argumentation.
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  46. Jesús Alcolea-Banegas (2009). Visual Arguments in Film. Argumentation 23 (2):259-275.
    Our aim is to point out some differences between verbal and visual arguments, promoting the rhetorical perspective of argumentation beyond the relevance of logic and pragmatics. In our view, if it is to be rational and successful, film as (visual) argumentation must be addressed to spectators who hold informed beliefs about the theme watched on the screen and the medium’s constraints and conventions. In our reflections to follow, we apply rhetorical analysis to film as a symbolic, human, and communicative act (...)
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  47. Virgil C. Aldrich (1954). The Informal Logic of the Employment of Expressions. Philosophical Review 63 (3):380-400.
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  48. Elizabeth J. Allan & Susan V. Iverson (2003). Cultivating Critical Consciousness. Inquiry 23 (1-2):51-61.
    In this article, we blend the Piagetian informed understanding of critical thinking with the scholarship of critical theory to analyze service-Iearning as a pedagogical strategy to promote critically conscious thinking among Students in higher education. We draw from our teaching experiences and student reflections in three different courses at two universities. In these courses, service-leaming was designed to: promote understandings of course content related to societal systems of advantage and disadvantage, develop self-awareness, promote understanding of sociocultural identity differences, and to (...)
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  49. Derek Allen (2013). Trudy Govier and Premise Adequacy. Informal Logic 33 (2):116-142.
    My main concern in this paper is with Trudy Govier’s acceptability criterion for the adequacy of the premises of an argument considered independently of whether they are “properly connected” to the conclusion. I consider arguments she makes against the view that a good argument must have true premises, and I con-tend that a theory of argument could hold both that for an argument to be a good argument its premises must be true and that for it to be a good (...)
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  50. Derek Allen (1996). Attributed Favourable Relevance and Argument Evaluation. Informal Logic 18 (2).
    I criticize a case made by George Bowles for a certain theory pertaining to the evaluation of arguments on which the (degree of) attributed favourable relevance of an argument's premises to its conclusion is relevant to its evaluation, but nevertheless argue that such favourable relevance is indeed relevant to an argument's evaluation.
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