Informal Fallacies as Abductive Inferences
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All who teach logic are familiar with informal fallacies such as ad ignorantium (appeal to ignorance) and ad populum (appeal to popularity). While it is easy to give clear examples of poor reasoning of this sort, instructors are also cognizant of what might be called “exceptions”: when it is legitimate to appeal to popularity or to an absence of evidence. The view I defend here is that appeals to popularity and ignorance (and some other fallacies) should best be viewed as instances of abductive reasoning, or inferences to the best explanation. Thus, determinations of whether these types of arguments are good ones will rest on the criteria that determine good reasoning for abductive arguments generally.
- R. Fogelin and W. Sinnott-Amstrong. Understanding Arguments. Harcourt, Fort Worth, 2001.
- P. Lipton. Inference to the Best Explanation. Routledge, London, 2004.
- C.S. Peirce. Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce. Volume 5. Harvard lectures on pragmatism, 1903.
- B. Van Fraassen. Laws and Symmetry. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1989.
- D. Walton. Informal Logic. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1999.
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