We are pleased to release this edition of Ralph Johnson’s The Rise of Informal Logic as Volume 2 in the series Windsor Studies in Argumentation. This edition is a reprint of the previous Vale Press edition with some typographical errors and other minor mistakes corrected. The prime motive for gathering Ralph H. Johnson’s essays under one cover is their clear articulation of the goals, concerns and problems of the discipline of informal logic. To my knowledge all of the published articles, (...) even of the 1980s, are still in print. But some are obtainable only by special request of a journal back issue. Their availability, even their existence, is not nearly widely enough known, and this volume is dedicated to remedying that disservice to those currently working in the field of informal logic, critical thinking, argumentation, and practical reasoning. Three of these sixteen pieces appear here in print for the first time. The previously published pieces have appeared from 1980 to 1992 as chapters in collective works or as articles in journals, and these in turn published in Canada, USA, The Netherlands and Belgium. It is hoped that gathering this hitherto scattered material under one cover will contribute to a greater understanding of what informal logic is, and to an enhanced sense of the impact of Johnson’s ideas. A discipline of informal logic might exist today without the writings of Johnson and his frequent co-author, J. Anthony Blair. But it would almost certainly be quite different from what it actually is. (shrink)
The problem of defining ‘critical thinking’ needs a fresh approach. When one takes into consideration the sheer quantity of definitions and their obvious differences, an onlooker might be tempted to conclude that there is no inherent meaning to the term: that each author seems to consider that he or she is free to offer a definition that suits them. And, with a few exceptions, there has not been much discussion among proposers about the strength and weaknesses of the attempted definitions. (...) Therefore, the approach we will argue for here is a ‘meta-level approach’: proposers of new definitions of ‘critical thinking’ should begin by arguing that none of the current crop of definitions is viable. They should then state what kind of definition they will offer; then provide the definition and show that it satisfies the criteria stated. Our position is that new definitions should follow this meta-level approach, in addition to avoiding some common pitfalls. (shrink)
In this paper, we will explore two initiatives that focus on the importance of employing logical theories in educating people how to think and reason properly, one in Poland: The Lvov-Warsaw School; the other in North America: The Informal Logic Initiative. These two movements differ in the logical means and skills that they focus on. However, we believe that they share a common purpose: to educate students in logic and reasoning so that they may be able to apply their skills (...) to analyze the issues in their society. The aim of the paper is to justify this claim by exploring research objectives and products that are common to both movements. (shrink)
In this paper, I respond to papers on my Manifest Rationality (2000) by Leo Groarke, Hans Hansen, David Hitchcock, and Christopher Tindale presented at the meetings of the Ontario Philosophical Society, October 2000. From the many useful challenges they have directed at my position, I have chosen to focus on two. The dominant issue raised by their papers concerns my definition of argument, and particularly problems with the idea of a dialectical tier. I have selected that as the first strand. (...) Second, several have raised questions that deal with the relationship between logic, rhetoric and dialectic. That is the second strand. (shrink)
In this overview article, we first explain what we take informal logic to be, discussing misconceptions and distinguishing our conception of it from competing ones; second, we briefly catalogue recent informal logic research, under 14 headings; third, we suggest four broad areas of problems and questions for future research; fourth, we describe current scholarly resources for informal logic; fifth, we discuss three implications of informal logic for philosophy in particular, and take note ofpractical consequences of a more general sort.
This paper is an exercise in intellectual history, an attempt to understand how a specific term—”informal logic”— came to be interpreted in so many different ways. I trace the emergence and development of “informal logic” to help explain the many different meanings, how they emerged and how they are related. This paper is also, to some degree, an account of a movement that developed outside the mainstream of philosophy, whose origins lie in a desire to make logic useful (echoing Dewey).
The issue of the relationship between formal and informal logic depends strongly on how one understands these two designations. While there is very little disagreement about the nature of formal logic, the same is not true regarding informal logic, which is understood in various (often incompatible) ways by various thinkers. After reviewing some of the more prominent conceptions of informal logic, I will present my own, defend it and then show how informal logic, so understood, is complementary to formal logic.
Criticisms of fallacy theory have been lodged from many different directions. In this paper, I consider the classic criticism of incompleteness by DeMorgan, Finocchiaro's claim that fallacies probably exist only in the mind of the interpreter, McPeck's claim that fallacies are at best context-dependent and Paul's complaints about the teaching of fallacies. I seek not merely to defend fallacy theory against unfair criticisms but also to learn from the criticisms what can be done in order to make fallacy theory a (...) viable theory of criticism. I argue that this will involve several changes: rethinking of the nature of fallacy; addressing some theoretical issues; and presenting fallacy theory in a more rigorous fashion. The paper concludes with reflections on how Quine's ontological advice about the resolution of ontological disputes might be applied to the issue of whether or not there are fallacies. (shrink)
In her 1997 OSSA paper, Trudy Govier discusses in detail my thesis that arguers have dialectical obligations. In a 1998 paper she further examines this thesis to see whether it is viable and concludes that it faces serious problems. In this paper, I assess the state of the thesis in light of Govier's discussion of it. I urge that we have something to gain from the empirical turn--from investigating best practices. At the end, I take a step back to ask (...) what is really at issue here and how it connect s to other issues in the theory of argument. (shrink)
One of the distinctive features of rhetorical approaches to the study of argumentation is the emphasis placed on the role of the audience. Here one thinks immediately of the influence of Chaïm Perelman and of his and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca’s The New Rhetoric. There is something importantly right about an audience-centered approach to argumentation. Clearly if you wish to persuade an audience of your position (or gain the acceptance of your thesis), you must engage that audience and in some sense carry (...) them with you from your starting points to your conclusion. Still, when I read theorists who place strong emphasis on the role of audience (for example, Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca in The New Rhetoric .. (shrink)
Argumentation theory is a distinctly multidisciplinary field of inquiry. It draws its data, assumptions, and methods from disciplines as disparate as formal logic and discourse analysis, linguistics and forensic science, philosophy and psychology, political science and education, sociology and law, and rhetoric and artificial intelligence. This presents the growing group of interested scholars and students with a problem of access, since it is even for those active in the field not common to have acquired a familiarity with relevant aspects of (...) each discipline that enters into this multidisciplinary matrix. This book offers its readers a unique comprehensive survey of the various theoretical contributions which have been made to the study of argumentation. It discusses the historical works that provide the background to the field and all major approaches and trends in contemporary research. Argument has been the subject of systematic inquiry for twenty-five hundred years. It has been graced with theories, such as formal logic or the legal theory of evidence, that have acquired a more or less settled provenance with regard to specific issues. But there has been nothing to date that qualifies as a unified general theory of argumentation, in all its richness and complexity. This being so, the argumentation theorist must have access to materials and methods that lie beyond his or her "home" subject. It is precisely on this account that this volume is offered to all the constituent research communities and their students. Apart from the historical sections, each chapter provides an economical introduction to the problems and methods that characterize a given part of the contemporary research program. Because the chapters are self-contained, they can be consulted in the order of a reader's interests or research requirements. But there is value in reading the work in its entirety. Jointly authored by the very people whose research has done much to define the current state of argumentation theory and to point the way toward more general and unified future treatments, this book is an impressively authoritative contribution to the field. (shrink)
Harald Wohlrapp’s The Concept of Argument has made a significant contribution to the argumentation theory by proposing a new approach to our way of thinking about arguments and argumentation that in which he proposes a criterion of criterial validity: An thesis is valid, if there are no open objections against the justification offered for it. In this paper, I will focus on some issues and difficulties with that principle.
Many argumentation theorists have adopted the view that argumentation may be approached from three different perspectives: the logical, the dialectical and the rhetorical—which I refer to as the Triumvirate.). According to Wenzel, the conceptual foundation for this Triumvirate is the distinction between argumentation as product, as process and as procedure. In this paper, I want to raise questions about the Triumvirate View and the Tripartite Distinction on which it is based.
In Argument, Inference and Dialectic Pinto argues that critical practice can furnish us with the necessary guidance to answer our questions about argument and inference; we do not need to develop a theory of argument/inference. Pinto’s provocative remarks raise questions about the appeal to practice, and recall problems that Toulmin encounters in development of his innovative theory in The Uses of Argument. In this paper, I juxtapose and reflect on these developments.
One of the traditional ways in which we manage dissensus is by argumentation, which may be construed as the attempt of the proponent to persuade rationally the other party of the truth of some thesis. To achieve this, the arguer will often anticipate a possible objection. In this paper, I attempt to shed light on the normative aspect of the task of anticipating objections. I deal with such questions as: How is the arguer to anticipate objections? Which of the anticipated (...) objections are to be dealt with? What is required to deal successfully with an objection? (shrink)
In this paper, I propose that the inquiry known as a/the theory of argument is the “invention” of Trudy Govier, using that term in its rhetorical sense, viz., the process of choosing ideas appropriate to the subject. In her paper, “Is a Theory of Argument Possible?” Govier used the idea of theory of argument to focus her discussion on problems in argument analysis and evaluation that came to light in the 1970s and 1980s. The idea of a theory of argument (...) was already there but Govier “discovered” it in the sense that she made its potential clear. (shrink)
In this reflection piece, Ralph Johnson provides an account of the development of informal logic and how it intersected with the Critical Thinking Movement. Section I is an account of the origins of what Johnson calls the “Informal Logic Initiative.” Section II discusses how the Informal Logic Initiative connected with the Critical Thinking Movement at the Sonoma State University Conferences starting in 1981. Section III discusses the relationship between logic and critical thinking. Section IV describes “The Network Problem,” which emerged (...) for Johnson in the mid-1980s – largely as a result of his experiences at critical thinking conferences, especially the Sonoma State conference. Section V expresses some concerns about the current status of critical thinking as an educational idea and about the Critical Thinking Movement. (shrink)
The notions of defeasibility and defeasible reasoning have generated a great deal of interest in various research communities. Here I want to focus on their use in logic and argumentation studies. I will approach these topics from the perspective of an informal logician who finds himself struggling with some issues that surround the idea of and the deployment of the concept of defeasibility. My intention is to make those struggles as clear as I can.
It is unfortunate that Hamblin’s contributions do not get him the credit he deserves for his remarkable achievements. Although his contributions to philosophy are well enough recognized, and his early contributions to computing have been acknowledged, it seems strange that his work has not been widely enough recognized for the interdisciplinary effect it has had. There has been a feedback loop whereby his theories on formal dialogue systems and imperatives were taken up in argumentation, applied in computing, and then used (...) in this form to refine argumentation methods. (shrink)
This paper seeks to articulate and defend the principle that every argument is susceptible to criticism and hence the arguer must not seek to immunize the argument from criticism. Considerations both in support of, and opposed to, the principle are considered.
Hamblin’s Fallacies remains one of the crucial documents in the development of informal logic and argumentation theory. His critique of traditional approaches to the fallacies (what he dubbed ‘The Standard Treatment’) helped to revitalize the study of fallacies. Recently I had occasion to reread Fallacies and came to the conclusion that some of my earlier criticisms (1989, 1990) had missed the real force of what was going on there, that I and others have perhaps not fully appreciated what Hamblin is (...) up to. In this paper, I plan to revisit Fallacies and make manifest its coherence. (shrink)