ABSTRACT: While we applaud several aspects of Lilian Bermejo-Luque's novel theory of argumentation and especially welcome its epistemological dimensions, in this discussion we raise doubts about her conception of argumentation, her account of argumentative goodness, and her treatments of the notion of “giving reasons” and of justification.RESUMEN: Aunque aprobamos varios aspectos de la nueva teoría de la argumentación propuesta por Lilian Bermejo Luque y, en particular, su dimensión epistemológica, en este debate planteamos algunas dudas sobre su concepción de la argumentación, (...) su análisis de la bondad argumentativa y su tratamiento de la noción de “dar razones” y de justificación. (shrink)
Garssen and van Laar in effect concede our main criticism of the pragma-dialectical approach. The criticism is that the conclusions of arguments can be ‘P-D reasonable’ yet patently unreasonable, epistemically speaking. The concession consists in the claim that the theory “remains restricted to the investigation of standpoints in the light of particular sets of starting points” which are “up to individual disputants to create” and the admission that all the relevant terms of normative appraisal have been redefined. We also discuss (...) their criticisms of the epistemic account of argumentation and argument evaluation and raise some new questions about the approach they defend. (shrink)
Philosophy of education has an honored place in the history of Western philosophical thought. Its questions are as vital now, both philosophically and practically, as they have ever been. In recent decades, however, philosophical thinking about education has largely fallen off the philosophical radar screen. Philosophy of education has lost intimate contact with the parent discipline to a regrettably large extent--to the detriment of both. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Education is intended to serve as a general introduction to (...) key issues in the field, to further the philosophical pursuit of those issues, and to bring philosophy of education back into closer contact with general philosophy. Distinguished philosophers and philosophers of education, most of whom have made important contributions to core areas of philosophy, turn their attention in these 28 essays to a broad range of philosophical questions concerning education. The chapters are accessible to readers with no prior exposure to philosophy of education, and provide both surveys of the general domain they address, and advance the discussion in those domains in original and fruitful ways. Together their authors constitute a new wave of general philosophers taking up fundamental philosophical questions about education--the first such cohort of outstanding general philosophers to do so (in English) in a generation. (shrink)
In this paper we defend a particular version of the epistemic approach to argumentation. We advance some general considerations in favor of the approach and then examine the ways in which different versions of it play out with respect to the theory of fallacies, which we see as central to an understanding of argumentation. Epistemic theories divide into objective and subjective versions. We argue in favor of the objective version, showing that it provides a better account than its subjectivist rival (...) of the central fallacy of begging the question. We suggest that the strengths of the objective epistemic theory of fallacies provide support for the epistemic approach to argumentation more generally. (shrink)
In this review of Christopher Winch's new book, Education, Autonomy and Critical Thinking (2006), I discuss its main theses, supporting some and criticising others. In particular, I take issue with several of Winch's claims and arguments concerning critical thinking and rationality, and deplore his reliance on what I suggest are problematic strains of the later Wittgenstein. But these criticisms are not such as to upend Winch's powerful critique of antiperfectionism and 'strong autonomy' or his defence of 'weak autonomy'. His account (...) of autonomy as an educational aim is important and in several respects compelling. (shrink)
Is 'education' a thick epistemic concept? The answer depends, of course, on the viability of the 'thick/thin' distinction, as well as the degree to which education is an epistemic concept at all. I will concentrate mainly on the latter, and will argue that epistemological matters are central to education and our philosophical thinking about it; and that, insofar, education is indeed rightly thought of as an epistemic concept. In laying out education's epistemological dimensions, I hope to clarify the degree to (...) which it makes sense to regard the concept as 'thick'. I also discuss the relationship between philosophy of education and virtue epistemology and the sense in which being educated might itself be thought to be an epistemic virtue. Finally, I urge virtue epistemologists in particular and epistemologists generally to turn their attention to questions of education, to further both the philosophy of education and epistemology itself. (shrink)
A major virtue of the Pragma-Dialectical theory of argumentation is its commitment to reasonableness and rationality as central criteria of argumentative quality. However, the account of these key notions offered by the originators of this theory, Frans van Eemeren and Rob Grootendorst, seems to us problematic in several respects. In what follows we criticize that account and suggest an alternative, offered elsewhere, that seems to us to be both independently preferable and more in keeping with the epistemic approach to arguments (...) and argumentation we favor. (shrink)
In his recent work in social epistemology, Alvin Goldman argues that truth is the fundamental epistemic end of education, and that critical thinking is of merely instrumental value with respect to that fundamental end. He also argues that there is a central place for testimony and trust in the classroom, and an educational danger in over-emphasizing the fostering of students’ critical thinking. In this paper I take issue with these claims, and argue that (1) critical thinking is a fundamental end (...) of education, independently of its instrumental tie to truth, and (2) it is critical thinking, rather than testimony and trust,that is educationally basic. (shrink)
Central to argumentation theory is a concern with normativity. Argumentation theorists are concerned, among other things, with explaining why some arguments are good (or at least better than others) in the sense that a given argument provides reasons for embracing its conclusion which are such that a fair- minded appraisal of the argument yields the judgment that the conclusion ought to be accepted -- is worthy of acceptance -- by all who so appraise it.
How should we think about the interrelationships that obtain among Philosophy, Education, and Culture? In this paper I explore the contours of one such interrelationship: namely, the way in which educational and (other) philosophical ideals transcend individual cultures. I do so by considering the contemporary educational and philosophical commitment to multiculturalism. Consideration of multiculturalism, I argue, reveals important aspects of the character of both educational and philosophical ideals. Specifically, I advance the following claims: i) We are obliged to embrace the (...) moral and political directives of multiculturalism. ii) This obligation is a moral one: that is, multiculturalism is justified on moral grounds. iii) Far from entailing any philosophically problematic form of cultural relativism, multiculturalism is itself a ‘universal’ or ‘transcultural’ ideal. iv) Moreover, the advocacy of multiculturalism presupposes another kind of universality, dubbed below ‘transcultural normative reach.’ v) Consequently, multiculturalism should not be understood as entailing the demise of ‘universalistic’ dimensions of either philosophy or education. (shrink)
In Educating Reason, Harvey Siegel presented the case regarding rationality and critical thinking as fundamental education ideals. In Rationality Redeemed? , a collection of essays written since that time, he develops this view, responds to major criticisms raised against it, and engages those critics in dialogue. In developing his ideas and responding to critics, Siegel addresses main currents in contemporary thought, including feminism, postmodernism and multiculturalism.
In Biro and Siegel (1992) we argued that a theory of argumentation mustfully engage the normativity of judgments about arguments, and we developedsuch a theory. In this paper we further develop and defend our theory.
In two recent papers, I criticized Ronald N. Giere's and Larry Laudan's arguments for 'naturalizing' the philosophy of science (Siegel 1989, 1990). Both Giere and Laudan replied to my criticisms (Giere 1989, Laudan 1990b). The key issue arising in both interchanges is these naturalists' embrace of instrumental conceptions of rationality, and their concomitant rejection of non-instrumental conceptions of that key normative notion. In this reply I argue that their accounts of science's rationality as exclusively instrumental fail, and consequently that their (...) cases for 'normatively naturalizing' the philosophy of science fail as well. (shrink)
Educators who are reflective about their educational endeavours ask themselves questions like: What is the aim of education? What moral, methodological, or other constraints govern our educational activities and efforts? One natural place to look for answers is in the philosophy of education, which (among other things) tries to provide systematic answers to these questions. One general answer offered by the philosophy of education is that the aim of education consists in fostering the development of students' rationality. On this view, (...) education has as its fundamental task both the development of students' reasoning ability, and also the fostering of a complex of attitudes, habits of mind, dispositions and character traits, such that students are not only able to reason well; they also care about reasons, and organize their beliefs, judgments and actions in accordance with the deliverances of the reasoned evaluation of reasons. Argumentation theory is also concerned with the analysis of the power and convicting force of reasons. When do reasons for a claim warrant acceptance of that claim? By what criteria are reasons evaluated? How are these criteria themselves justified? Such questions as these are the meat and potatoes of argumentation theory, which, in pursuing these questions, promises to shed light on the character of rationality as the aim of education. Rationality, which links education and argumentation theory, provides educators with a reason to care about argumentation-if rationality can be cogently defended as an educational ideal. In this paper I will try to provide such a defense, and in doing so explain why educators should care about argumentation. The defense will be a moral one: I will argue that we are morally obliged to endeavour to foster the rationality of students, because that is what is required to meet our obligations to treat students with respect as persons. I will also consider some general criticisms of the Enlightenment ideal of rationality, offered by Feminist, Multiculturalist, and Postmodemist scholars. If these criticisms are cogent, then both argumentation theory and the view that the aim of education is the fostering of rationality are threatened. I will argue that the criticisms, while important and instructive, are not so destructive of the ideal of rationality as some contemporary scholars suppose. (shrink)
Connie Missimer (1990) challenges what she calls the Character View, according to which critical thinking involves both skill and character, and argues for a rival conception-the Skill View-according to which critical thinking is a matter of skill alone. In this paper I criticize the Skill View and defend the Character View from Missimer's critical arguments.
In his recent book Rationality, Nicholas Rescher offers a provocative attempt to justify rationality. In this paper I critically assess that attempt. After clarifying the philosophical problem at issue, I examine Rescher's effort to solve it. I argue that Rescher's justification succeeds, but that he mistakenly characterizes it as pragmatic. It succeeds only if it is understood non-pragmatically. Consequently, Rescher must give up either his justificatory argument, or his commitment to a pragmatic justification.