Following an approach that is empirical but not psychological, and dialectical but not dialogical, in this book Maurice Finocchiaro defines concepts such as reasoning, argument, argument analysis, critical reasoning, methodological reflection, judgment, critical thinking, and informal logic. Including extended critiques of the views of many contemporary scholars, he also integrates into the discussion Arnauld's Port-Royal Logic, Gramsci's theory of intellectuals, and case studies from the history of science, particularly the work of Galileo, Newton, Huygens, and Lavoisier.
This is a critical appreciation of Govier’s 2006 ISSA keynote address on the fallacy of composition, and of economists’ writings on this fallacy in economics. I argue that the “fallacy of composition” is a problematical concept, because it does not denote a distinctive kind of argument but rather a plurality, and does not constitute a distinctive kind of error, but rather reduces to oversimplification in arguing from micro to macro. Finally, I propose further testing of this claim based on examples (...) involving public vs. private debt in economics; oligarchic tendencies in politics, and the emergence of societal wholes in sociology. (shrink)
Krabbe (2003, in F.H. van Eemeren, J.A. Blair, C.A. Willard and A.F. Snoeck Henkemans (eds.), Proceedings of the Fifth Conference of the International Society for the Study of Argumentation, Sic Sat, Amsterdam, pp. 641–644) defined a metadialogue as a dialogue about one or more dialogues, and a ground-level dialogue as a dialogue that is not a metadialogue. Similarly, I define a meta-argument as an argument about one or more arguments, and a ground-level argument as one which is not a meta-argument. (...) Krabbe (1995, in F.H van Eemeren, R. Grootendorst, J.A. Blair, C.A. Willard and A.F. Snoeck Henkemans (eds.), Proceedings of the Third ISSA Conference on Argumentation, Sic Sat, Amsterdam, pp. 333–344) showed that formal-fallacy criticism (and more generally, fallacy criticism) consists of metadialogues, and that such metadialogues can be profiled in ways that lead to their proper termination or resolution. I reconstruct Krabbe’s metadialogical account into monolectical, meta-argumentative terminology by describing three-types of meta-arguments corresponding to the three ways of proving formal invalidity he studied: the trivial logic-indifferent method; the method of counterexample situation; and the method of formal paraphrase. A fourth type of meta-argument corresponds to what Oliver (1967, Mind 76, 463–478), Govier (1985, Informal Logic 7, 27–33), and Copi (1986) call refutation by logical analogy. A fifth type of meta-argument represents my reconstruction of arguments by parity of reasoning studied by Woods and Hudak (1989, Informal Logic 11, 125–139). Other particular meta-arguments deserving future study are Hume’s critique of the argument from design in the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, and Mill’s initial argument in The Subjection of Women about the importance of established custom and general feeling vis-à-vis argumentation. (shrink)
A critical examination of the dialectical approach, focusing on a comparison ofthe illative and the dialectical definitions of argument. I distinguish a moderate, a strong and a hyper dialectical conception of argument. I critique Goldman's argument for the moderate conception and Johnson's argument for the strong conception, and argue that the moderate conception is correct.
I begin by formulating the problem of the nature of fallacy in terms of the logic of the negative evaluation of argument, that is, in terms of a theory of logical criticism; here I discuss several features of my approach and several advantages vis-à-vis other approaches; a main feature of my approach is the concern to avoid both formalist and empiricist excesses. I then define six types of fallaciousness, labeled formal, explanatory, presuppositional, positive, semantical, and persuasive; they all involve arguments (...) whose conclusion may be said not to follow from the premises, that is, they involve the logical evaluation of relationships among propositions. I also provide a set of data consisting of four historical cases or nine specific instances of fallacious arguments; these all pertain to the Copernican controversy about the earth's motion in the seventeenth century. I end with a discussion of further problems and inquiries that deserve attention. (shrink)
David N. Perkins has studied everyday reasoning by an experimental-critical approach involving taped interviews during which subjects reflect on controversial issues and articulate their reasoning on both sides. The present author has studied scientific reasoning in natural language by an historical-textual approach involving the reconstruction and evaluation of the arguments in Galileo's Two Chief World Systems. They have, independently, reached the strikingly similar substantive conclusion that the most common flaw of informal reasoning is the failure to consider lines of argument (...) supporting conclusions contrary to the one in fact reached. This article describes, compares, and contrasts their respective approaches, results, and theoretical frameworks. (shrink)
1As an editor of this journal, John Woods and his distinguished contributions to logic, reasoning, and argumentation need little introduction. However, this book is partly a fruit of his relatively recent collaboration with Dov Gabbay, which deserves some elaboration. They have co-edited some monumental reference collections, e.g.: Handbook of the Logic of Argument and Inference: The Turn toward the Practical and Logic: A History of Its Central Concepts. And they are co-authoring an ambitious multi-volume work collectively entitled A Practical Logic (...) of Cognitive Systems. The first two volumes, Agenda Relevance: A Study in Formal Pragmatics and The Reach of Abduction: Insight and Trial, each contain contributions by both authors, such that Woods wrote the philosophical conceptual parts and Gabbay the formal mathematical parts. However, due to a change of publisher and the excessive length of the earlier volumes, they decided to publish the third volume as two separate single-authored bo. (shrink)
In the context of a study of meta-arguments in general, and famous meta-arguments in particular, I reconstruct chapter 1 of Mill’s Subjection of Women as the meta-argument: women’s liberation should be argued on its merits because the universality of subjection derives from the law of force and hence provides no presumption favoring its correctness. The raises the problem of the relationship among illative, dialectical, and meta-argumentative tiers.
This is an interpretative and evaluative study of the thought of Antonio Gramsci, the founding father of the Italian Communist Party who died in 1937 after ten years of imprisonment in Fascist jails. It proceeds by a rigorous textual analysis of his Prison Notebooks, the scattered notes he wrote during his incarceration. Professor Finocchiaro explores the nature of Gramsci's dialectical thinking, in order to show in what ways Gramsci was and was not a Marxist, as well as to illustrate correspondences (...) with the work of Hegel, Croce, and Bukharin. The book provides a critical reappraisal of Gramsci as a thinker and of the dialectical approach as a mode of inquiry. (shrink)
Chapter 2 of Mill’s On Liberty is reconstructed as a complex argument for freedom of discussion; it consists of three subarguments, each possessing illative and dialectical components. The illative component is this: freedom of discussion is desirable because it enables us to determine whether an opinion is true, whereas its denial amounts to an assumption of infallibility; it improves our understanding and appreciation of the supporting reasons of true opinions, and our understanding and appreciation of their practical or emotional meaning; (...) it enables us to understand and appreciate every side of the truth, given that opinions tend to be partly true and partly false and people tend to be one-sided. The dialectical component consists of replies to ten objections, five in the first subargument, three in the second, one in the third, and one general. An analysis of Mill’s argument suggests that it is a contribution to argumentation theory; it advocates and practices a dialectical approach; its reconstruction and analysis are a contribution to argumentation theory; and it raises in a striking manner the issue of the relationship between epistemology and argumentation theory. (shrink)
This is a critical examination of Johnstone's thesis that all valid philosophical arguments are ad hominem. I clarify his notions of valid, philosophical, and ad hominem. I illustrate the thesis with his refutation ofthe claim that only ordinary language is correct. r discuss his three supporting arguments (historical, theoretical, and intermediate). And r criticize the thesis with the objections that if an ad hominem argument is valid, it is really ad rem; that it's unclear how his own theoretical argument can (...) be ad hominem; that if an ad hominem argument is really valid, it would have to be based on the proponent's own assumptions; and that the thesis is not true of philosophical arguments that are constructive rather than critical. (shrink)
For 150 years after Galileo’s condemnation in 1633, there were many references to the trial, but no sustained, heated or polarized discussions. Then came the thesis that Galileo was condemned not for being a good astronomer but for being a bad theologian ; it began in 1784–1785 with an apology of the Inquisition by Mallet du Pan in the Mercure de France and the printing in Tiraboschi’s Storia della letteratura italiana of an apocryphal letter attributed to Galileo but forged by (...) Onorato Gaetani. This thesis is not only untenable and false but inverts and subverts the truth; it proved to be long-lasting and widely accepted; so it may be labeled a myth. It was held by such writers as Bergier; Bergier; B; Feller; Cooper; Purcell; Marini; Reumont; Madden and Duhem. Afterwards, it was generally abandoned, its death knell being pope John Paul II’s speeches in 1979–1992. The myth seems to have acted as a catalyst insofar as its creation encouraged the proliferation of pro-clerical accounts and the articulation of pro-Galilean ones, thus making the discussion of Galileo’s trial the cause célèbre it is today.Author Keywords: Galileo; Galileo affair; Science versus religion; Theology; Biblical exegesis; Myth. (shrink)
Methodological criticism may be defined as the critique of scientific practice in the light of methodological principles, and critical methodology as the study of proper methods of criticism; the problem is that of the interaction between the scientific methods which give methodological criticism its methodological character and the critical methods which give it its character of criticism. These ideas and this problem are illustrated by an examination of Karl Popper's critique of Marxian social science. It is argued that though Popper's (...) favorable articulations of Marx are valuable, his unfavorable criticism is invalid, the grounds of my argument being certain ideas in critical methodology relating to the distinctions between theory and practice, between inaccurate and invalid criticism, and between the justification of favorable criticism and the justification of unfavorable criticism. (shrink)
This is a critical examination of Antoine Arnauld's Logic or the Art of Thinking (1662), commonly known as the Port-Royal Logic. Rather than reading this work from the viewpoint of post-Fregean formal logic or the viewpoint of seventeenth-century intellectual history, I approach it with the aim of exploring its relationship to that contemporary field which may be labeled informal logic and/or argumentation theory. It turns out that the Port-Royal Logic is a precursor of this current field, or conversely, that this (...) field may be said to be in the same tradition. (shrink)
Even given agreement on the totality of conditions that brought about an effect, there often is disagreement about the cause of the effect, for example, the disagreement about the cause of the Gulf oil spill. Different conditions’ being deemed responsible accounts for such disagreements. The defense of the act of deeming a condition responsible often depends on showing that the condition was the appropriate target of interference in order to have avoided the effect.
One of the ideas elaborated in my recent book is what I called the hermeneutical\nprinciple of the asymmetry between negative and positive evaluation: ’this\nprescribes that the textual evidence needed to justify a negative, unfavourable\nevaluation must be of a high quality, strength, and rigor, whereas for a positive\nevaluation less exacting standards are sufficient’ (Finocchiaro, 1988: 247). There,\nI applied this principle to several cases, relating in one way or another to\nGramsci: some were his critiques of other authors, some were my own critiques\nof (...) his ideas, and some were critiques by others; and the issues involved such\nquestions as the status of Marxism as a religion, as a science, and as politics.\nI believe the principle ought to be applied to book reviews. Now, Geoffrey\nHunt’s recent review of my book in this journal (Hunt, 1990) seems to me to be a\nclear violation of this principle, and therefore an answer to it will not only set the\nrecord straight, but may prove generally instructive. That is, his review devotes a\ngreat deal of space to criticizing my work, and very little to analysing, describing,\nor even summarizing it; and whatever description we find, it is largely inaccurate,\nunfair, and one-sided. In short, what he advances is a negative evaluation of my\nbook not properly and adequately documented and justified. (shrink)
Although Hume’s critique of the design argument is a powerful non-inductive meta-argument, the main line of critical reasoning is not analogical but rather a complex meta-argument. It consists of two parts, one interpretive, the other evaluative. The critical meta-argument advances twelve criticisms: that the design argument is weak because two of its three premises are justified by inadequate subarguments; because its main inference embodies four flaws; and because the conclusion is in itself problematic for four reasons. Such complexity is quite (...) manageable in a meta-argumentation approach. (shrink)
Feyerabend's views are construed as formulating the problem of determining the role of rhetoric in scientific rationality and posing the solution-theory that scientific rationality is essentially rhetorical. He is taken to give three arguments against reason, of which the one from the insufficiency of reason and the one from incommensurability are shown to presuppose his historical argument; his historical argument is based on his account of Galileo, which hinges essentially on Feyerabend's analysis of the tower argument. This analysis is insightful (...) in certain important ways but misconceived in others. Feyerabend's main error is to see a conflict between reason and rhetoric, where none exists; it is argued that rhetorical devices have their own standards of propriety and impropriety, different from those of rational arguments, and that at the same time sound rhetorical analysis presupposes sound logical analysis. (shrink)
For example, from the point of view of pure conceptual analysis, since the reduction of what is not understood to what is understood is new understanding, explanation seems to involve growth of understanding. But is it the only kind of growth of understanding? It seems that explanation is quantitative growth of understanding. Could there be a qualitative growth of understanding and if so what would it be? And how would qualitative growth of understanding relate to explanation?
Galileo's Dialogue (1632) can be read from the viewpoints of methodological judgment and critical reasoning; methodological judgment means the avoidance of onesidedness and extremes; and critical reasoning means reasoning aimed at the analysis and evaluation of arguments. Classic sources for these readings are Thomas Salusbury (1661) and the Port-Royal logicians (1662). This focus does not deny the book's scientific, historical, rhetorical, and aesthetic dimensions; it is critical of excessively rhetorical readings; and it suggests solutions to the problems of hermeneutical pluralism, (...) interpretation versus evaluation, and theory versus practice. The book's methodological judgment and critical reasoning can be shown to correspond to Galileo's self-reflections. (shrink)