Petitio principii and circular argumentation as seen from a theory of dialectical structures

Synthese 175 (3):327-349 (2010)

Gregor Betz
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
This paper investigates in how far a theory of dialectical structures sheds new light on the old problem of giving a satisfying account of the fallacy of petitio principii, or begging the question. It defends that (i) circular argumentation on the one hand and petitio principii on the other hand are two distinct features of complex argumentation, and that (ii) it is impossible to make general statements about the defectiveness of an argumentation that exhibits these features. Such an argumentation, in contrast, has to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. “Petitio principii”, this paper thence suggests, is one name for, in fact, a multitude of different and quite complex dialectical situations which require specific analysis and evaluation.
Keywords argumentation theory  petitio principii
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-009-9512-1
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