Reconstructing Arguments: Formalization and Reflective Equilibrium

History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis 17 (1):94-129 (2014)
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Traditional logical reconstruction of arguments aims at assessing the validity of ordinary language arguments. It involves several tasks: extracting argumentations from texts, breaking up complex argumentations into individual arguments, framing arguments in standard form, as well as formalizing arguments and showing their validity with the help of a logical formalism. These tasks are guided by a multitude of partly antagonistic goals, they interact in various feedback loops, and they are intertwined with the development of theories of valid inference and adequate formalization. This paper explores how the method of reflective equilibrium can be used for modelling the complexity of such reconstructions and for justifying the various steps involved. The proposed approach is illustrated and tested in a detailed reconstruction of the beginning of Anselm’s De casu diaboli.



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Georg Brun
University of Bern

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Introduction to Mathematical Logic.Alonzo Church - 1944 - Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Methods of Logic.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1950 - Harvard University Press.
Radical interpretation.Donald Davidson - 1973 - Dialectica 27 (1):314-328.

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