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.
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)
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.
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.
An autobiographical narrative forms the basis for the exploration of a tension at the heart of philosophical practice. This paper considers whether Philosophy should be construed as a text-driven, expert-based endeavor as is typical in University programs or whether there is a primordial philosophical experience that grounds a more informal process of philosophical engagement? That is, is Philosophy a natural extension of human perplexity available as a tool for understanding without the trappings of Professorial scholarship and the authority of canonical (...) texts, or has the historical development of Philosophy so constructed its practice that it is beholden to sophisticated scholarship and the professional interpretation of a definitive body of classical and contemporary sources? (shrink)
Decency requires that a discussion as lengthy as the preceding be handily brought to a close. The seriousness of Siegel's complaints against me do, however, call for a response. In what follows I will address what I take to be Siegel's main criticisms, roughly in the order that they are presented. My responses will be limited to, at most, a few paragraphs. They can do no more than indicate how I would counter the thrust of his critical remarks. As both (...) Siegel and myself readily admit, our positions exhibit deep agreements. As I shall attempt to indicate in what follows, much of what Siegel sees in my arguments as evidence of confusion, or worse, may point to equally deep differences of opinion. Our agreements, as he graciously acknowledges, are relevant to issues at the center of recent philosophy, but, as should be apparent from what follows, so are our possible differences. (shrink)
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)