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Past CRRAR Events

CRRAR Presented:

Empathetic Engagement as

an Epistemic Responsibility


  Justin Ross Morris

 CRRAR Student Fellow


Maureen Linker claims that argumentation theorists (among others) who engage in oppressive and unjust ways of thinking are oftentimes not even aware of their mistakes. Part of the reason for this obliviousness stems from the fact that the very best elements of social identity theory have yet to make their way into the heart of informal logic theory. To show why this is the case and how we can go about correcting it, I draw on the recent work of Cynthia Townley and Lori Gruen to argue that a) epistemophilia—the love of knowledge to the point of myopia—obscures the impact that social privilege has on our ability to reason with others, whereas b) empathetic engagement enables us to better appreciate the situational and socio-emotional aspects of an arguer’s position. Along with feminist dialogics, I suggest that the theory of narrative empathy—as developed by Suzanne Keen—could help argumentation theorists expand their emotional and empathetic horizons in ways that reveal their epistemic privilege and the limitations that follow from it.



Thursday, December 8, 2011

3:00 PM

Parker House Seminar Room

“How Do You Argue?

Let Us Count the Ways”

The Ontario Provincial Election, 2011


Hans V. Hansen & Douglas Walton

CRRAR Fellows

Sam Atkin, Dillon Fowler, Laura Nicola & Shane Perron

FASS Students


This is a report on a study of the arguments used during the Ontario provincial election, September 7 to October 6, 2011. The primary purpose of the study is to investigate what kinds of arguments (e.g., analogical argument, ad hominem argument, etc.) were used by the candidates for political office. We also consider what dialectical roles the arguments played, i.e., whether they were used to present a policy or solution, or criticize an opponent’s position, or criticize an opponent him or her self. Our source was the main print media, the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, and Windsor Star. More than 250 entries were made in our database for the election period. Early analysis of the data allows us to report on (a) what kinds of arguments were used, (b) the relative and comparative frequency of the kinds of argument that were used, and (c) the relative and comparative frequency of the different dialectical roles that can be attributed. A further finding leads to (d) a suggestion about modification to the list of argument kinds (or schemes): what might be added, or deleted, to the list for the context of political argumentation?


Thursday, November 17, 2011

4:00 PM

Memorial Hall 105

A way to Identify,

Analyze and Judge

Reasoning and Arguments


J.A. Blair, R.H. Johnson, C.W. Tindale

 CRRAR Research Fellows


With seven authors of at least five textbooks on reasoning and argument evaluation at the University of Windsor (Blair, Groarke, Johnson, Parr, Pinto, Tindale, Walton), the question arose whether there might be something that could be called “The Windsor Approach”—if not a single theory, perhaps a broad school of thought that could be identified with the informal logic approach to the subject found at Windsor. To test this possibility, Blair, Johnson and Tindale wrote up a draft of an approach, which they presumptuously called, The Windsor Method. They circulated it to their colleagues, who so far have declined to endorse it! Undeterred, they now have a revised draft, which is to be the topic of this talk. In general, it is a method for identifying reasoning and arguments in texts of discourse, analyzing their structure, and assessing their cogency, from a variety of evaluative points of view. It takes into account the rhetorical, dialectical and logical features of the discourse.


Thursday, October 27th, 2011

3:00 p.m.

Parker House Seminar Room

105 Sunset


The Problem of Enthymemes:

Is There Help on the Way from Artificial Intelligence?


Doug Walton

 CRRAR Distinguished Research Fellow


The problem is finding a systematic method to help guide an argument analyst to fill in implicit premises and conclusions in an argument found to a text of discourse is a major research topic for informal logic. This presentation is a brief survey of the state-of-the-art on work addressed to solving this problem and resources that may be useful. The proposal made is that there are some tools from AI that can be applied to the problem, including models of abductive reasoning, research on common knowledge and common-sense reasoning, argument mapping tools, argumentation schemes, and ways of reformulating critical questions matching schemes as implicit premises using computational systems of argumentation.

Arguing with Stories


Floris Bex

University of Dundee


     Stories are ubiquitous in human experience.  We use them to entertain and communicate and it is often suggested that they are rooted in our psychology and thus serve an important cognitive function. Stories are claimed to provide natural and intuitive ways of explaining some phenomena. Furthermore, stories are also considered to be powerful rhetorical vessels: a “good” story will often trump a “true” story.

     In this talk, I intend to discuss and explore the uses of stories in argumentative contexts. I will discuss my hybrid model of inference to the best explanation, in which stories and arguments are combined: stories explain the observed evidence whilst arguments can be used to support or attack these stories. The dialectical role of stories as alternative explanations is also explored in this model. I will finish with a brief discussion on arguments based on stories, exploring how these stories-as-arguments can convince as well as proposing tests for their critical and rational analysis.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

3:00 p.m.

Parker House Seminar Room

Evidential Reasoning in the Process of Proof

Assumption University


Dr. Douglas Walton

Assumption University Chair in Argumentation Studies, Distinguished Research Fellow, Centre for Research in Reasoning, Argumentation and Rhetoric (CRRAR), University of Windsor


Dr. Floris Bex

Postdoctoral researcher working at the Argumentation Research Group in the School of Computing, University of Dundee (Scotland)


In a legal context, the study of evidence is often equated with the study of the law of evidence.  However, a large part of the study of evidence constitutes the study of the rational process of proof, which concerns the facts of the case rather than the legal specifics.  The reasoning in the process of proof involves constructing, testing and justifying complex hypotheses about what happened in a case using evidence e.g. witness statements, forensic reports, commonsense knowledge and general scenarios that express typical human behaviour.

In this lecture, we will illustrate the various stages of process of proof and look at how concepts from argumentation theory can be used to model and analyze the reasoning in them.  We will discuss, among other things, argument charts and graphs, argumentation schemes and their critical questions, and the idea of stories (or scenarios) in reasoning about the facts of a case.


Wednesday, september 13th, 2011

4:30 p.m.

Freed-Orman Centre, Assumption University

Feminism and Argumentation

Catherine Hundleby

The purpose of the presentation is to review a draft for a submission to the "Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy" on "Feminism and Argumentation," the aims of which are less argumentative than explanatory and narrative. A draft will be available one week in advance.

Feminists criticize the extent to which and the manner in which logic and many other models for argumentation abstract from the argumentative situation, eliminating important contextual elements and forcing specific interpretations as if they were neutral.  Treating argumentation as an adversarial practice of opposing other people or at least other opinions is common, especially influential in the discipline of philosophy, and through philosophy it affects broadly accepted standards for reasoning and reinforces patriarchal discourse.  Women tend to be excluded as agents of reasoning, denying them rational authority, and also neglected as objects of inquiry.  Yet rhetorical models of argumentation and the reflective ideal of critical thinking show promise.


September 08, Thursday, 2011, at 3:00 pm

Parker House Seminar Room, 105 Sunset, first floor.

Are Fallacies Vices?


  Andrew Ball

 CRRAR Student Fellow


What does it mean to say that something is wrong with an argument, especially if the particular wrong in question is identified as a fallacy? Since it seems that argumentation is an intellectual activity that can be performed in a better or worse manner, do we evaluate an argument simply in terms of what is purported by the arguer, or does it also make sense to evaluate the arguer him/herself in light of what s/he has purported?  I propose a possible understanding of ‘fallacy’ from an intellectual-virtue approach and argue that ‘better’ sorts of arguments may indeed have some sort of link with intellectual virtue(s) and ‘worse’ sorts, especially those that contain fallacies, may have some link with intellectual vice(s). This essay considers recent work by Paul Grice, Linda Zagzebski, Andrew Aberdein, Daniel Cohen, and Douglas Walton, and ultimately argues that if there is some more nobler sense of argumentation where the argument is (i) truth-seeking or truth-tracking rather than (ii) only purported in order to ‘win’, a ‘fallacy’ may indeed be understand as a vicious element in an argument that undermines (i), most often because the arguer’s goal is only (ii).  From this perspective, fallacies may not only be improper ‘moves’ in an argument that reveal an arguer’s lack of skills at arguing, but may also reveal something lacking in what may be the arguer’s intellectual character.



Tuesday, May 24, 2011

3:00 p.m.

Parker House Seminar Room


Are There Any Deep Disagreements?


Steven Patterson

 CRRAR Visiting Research Fellow


 It is easy to have one's attention captured by discord. In the philosophy of argument this fascination often takes the form of discussions around Fogelin's idea of deep disagreement. Fascinating and important though it not doubt is, in this essay I will argue that deep disagreement is nowhere near as troubling a prospect as has often been assumed. I will show this in two steps. First I will show that the argument that first introduced deep disagreement into the literature is based on questionable assumptions. Second, I will argue that even if we allow that deep disagreement of a profound sort exists (as I believe that we should), the philosophy of argument provides us with completely adequate resources for dealing with it. Finally, if my arguments on these scores are right, I think a cautionary note follows about the way in which we think and talk about “deep” differences of opinion more generally.


Thursday, April 28th

4:00 p.m.

Parker House Seminar Room




Evaluating Convergent Arguments


Matthew Stevens

CRRAR Student Research Fellow


Many theorists have bothered to point out the distinction between linked and convergent premises in argumentation. Unfortunately little work has been done on what to do with these arguments after being so identified, aside from diagramming them. For the evaluation of arguments it is useful to speak of ascribing weight to premises. After premises have been individually evaluated, it is not at all clear how to come to a conclusion as to the cogency of the argument as a whole, how the weight of each premise is to combine. One such suggestion is called Yanal's ordinary summing test (or Yanal's algorithm) but fails to satisfy all situations. Simply describing convergent premises as supporting one another in a simple 'additive' sense fails to recognize the variety of ways such premises may interact. This paper will explore different prototypes of convergent arguments as well as suggest an appropriate formula for combining the weight of premises in each case.



Thursday, April 21, 2011

4:00 p.m.

Parker House Lounge


The Rise of Journal Publication: Newton, Huygens, Hooke, and Newton’s Prism


 Pierre Boulos

 CRRAR Research Fellow


The centrepiece of Newton’s work, Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (first edition, 1687), is radically different from the body of scientific work that preceded it.  Newton, the philosopher, had much to say about science, methodology, and ontology.  In the Scholium which ends Book III of the Principia Newton shows a disdain for hypotheses, metaphysical or physical, and expresses this with his celebrated hypothesis non fingo – I feign no hypotheses.  Historians and philosophers of science have long debated this admission.  In my paper I wish to explore a related event that may shed “light” on Newton’s methodological and metaphysical commitments.  My story will be informed by the events that surround Newton’s famous prism experiment (1672) and the debate surrounding it (notably by Hooke and Huygens), which was publicly played out in The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London.  In this debate Newton was accused of promoting an unfounded hypothesis.  The challenges to his claim forced Newton to explicate not only the experiment and his reasoning underlying it, but it forced him also to spell out what he meant by Experimental Philosophy.  This debate is important for the history and philosophy of science, as well as for giving scholars a glimpse into the peer review process.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

4:00 p.m.

Parker House Seminar Room

105 Sunset

Of State Spaces & Shadows,

 Similarities & Standards


Marcello Guarini

CRRAR Fellow


Thirty years ago, philosopher Paul Churchland invited us to conceive of linguistically expressed thoughts as a kind of lower dimensional projection of a higher dimensional cognitive reality.  He even compared what is expressed in language with the shadows on the wall in Plato’s cave.  As Churchland’s work progressed, this idea was developed using state space models of artificial neural networks. Dr. Guarini will present research in the philosophy of ethics and the philosophy of computational neural modeling that is, in some ways, inspired by Churchland’s work.  Dr. Guarini will review some of his own work, including attempts to further develop the approach of using state space models of neural networks for the purpose of understanding moral similarities that hold between different situations.  A strategy for visualizing 14 dimensional spaces will be used to examine an artificial neural network’s more state space.  There will be a discussion of different types of moral standards or principles, and there will be some discussion of how what we express in natural language regarding standards and similarity may be a shadow of much higher dimensional spaces.  Some of the limits to this way of thinking will be examined as well.


Thursday, March 31, 2011

4:00 p.m.-5:20 p.m



Inference as Growth:

 Peirce’s Ecstatic Logic of Illation


Dr. Philip Rose

Department of Philosophy


According to Peirce, the fundamental principle of all logic is the relation of illation understood in the historical sense of ‘to bring in somewhere’ and as expressed in the propositional form ‘if, therefore.’ As I will show, Peirce interprets illation in a radical, semiotic sense as a logic of growth, that is, an inferential  movement from some initial state (e.g., a premise) towards a state of increased ‘information’ (e.g., a conclusion). It follows that inference (and argumentation) is essentially ecstatic, an asymmetrical movement from some antecedent state towards some non-reducible consequent.

            While Peirce’s illative logic of growth would appear well-suited to inductive and abductive forms of inference (which are ampliative in nature), it is less clear at first blush how it applies to deductive inferences (which are non-ampliative in nature). As I will show, however, Peirce’s account of deductive inferences is also illative in his radical sense where deductive inferences evolve their conclusions in an asymmetrical sense that is consistent with Peirce’s illative logic of growth.

         It follows that logic, in Peirce’s illative, ecstatic sense, is better understood as an inductive science rather than a deductive science, for the ampliative work of inductive inference better exemplifies, in a richer, fuller sense, the illative, ecstatic essence of inference per se. While deduction still stands as essential and irreplaceable aspect of logic, it remains a purely formal and hence more abstract (and more ‘degenerate’) expression of the illative essence of inference (and argumentation) as such.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

4:00 p.m.


Parker House Seminar Room

105 Sunset Ave.

Francis Bacon, Rhetoric,

and the Passions


 Stephen Pender

 CRRAR Research Fellow


This paper explores early modern conceptions of the relationship between imagination, the will, and the passions, with a focus on Bacon and his contemporaries.  The ‘physics of persuasion’ in this period was concerned with the passions, with moving (movere), over and above teaching and delighting (docere et delectare), in part because of an enormous investment in individual feeling, in the discursive contours of everyday life.  As Johann-Heinrich Alsted insists in 1616, the orator “mainly looks at the heart, so that he may stir up in it different emotions.”  Another contemporary suggests that orators should “inveigle and appassionate the mind.”  I shall argue that Bacon sets the stage for this transformation: he both consolidated and inspired widespread European interest in pathologia oratoria, the ‘pathology’ of eloquence, by mooring its work to the instruments of moving — volition, the affections, the imagination — rather than strictly to context, audience, or occasion.



Thursday, March 10, 2011

4:00 p.m.


Dillon Hall

Room 255

Conductive Argument:

A Map of the Issues


 J. Anthony Blair

CRRAR Senior Research Fellow



In this paper I try to list all the questions that are raised by Carl Wellman’s concept of conductive arguments—arguments that are not deductive, and, although defeasible, not inductive either, but which proceed from considerations about individual cases to conclusions about those cases without appeal to other cases. I find four groups of issues. (1) One relates to the definition of a conductive argument Wellman stipulates. I include here also questions about the three “patterns” of conductive argument he distinguishes. (2) The second includes questions related to the conceptualization of conduction. (3) The third relates to the analysis (and diagramming) of conductive arguments. (4) The fourth concerns the vexed question of the evaluation of conductive arguments. The point is that if we are to adopt Wellman’s position that this is a distinctive and important type of argument, we need to resolve all of these questions.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

4:00 p.m.


Parker House Seminar Room

105 Sunset Ave.


Conductive Argumentation

and ‘The Inference to the Best Explanation’



 Dean Goorden, M.A.

My aim throughout this paper is to demonstrate where conductive arguments can be found in the practice of  inference to the best explanation as it is used in science.  Conductive arguments, I argue, operate on two levels: the first is in the construction of hypotheses; the second is through the competition of hypotheses.  When arguments are put forth in science there is usually more than one premise taken into account.  What is implicit in  each of these premises is that they contribute to the argument and, given all of the facts, the conclusion “x” is justified.  A set of observations is often used to make an argument(s) for a particular hypothesis.  Given observations of facts we construct aninference to the best explanation. By constructing arguments based on observations of facts, all possible (conceivable) factors are taken into account and a judgment is made based on our weighing of considerations: conductive argumentation.



Thursday, February 17, 2011

4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Parker House Seminar Room

105 Sunset Ave.


Thursday, Febuary 3rd, 2011

7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Katzman Lounge, Vanier Hall

University of Windsor.


DR. TRUDY GOVIER presents:



A distinction is not a dichotomy, though it is often easy to construct dichotomies on the basis of distinctions. Some dichotomies are true; many are false. As a matter of theory, there are many ways of lapsing into false dichotomies. We can fail to have exhaustive opposites, fail to have exclusive opposites, and fail to have dichotomous opposition because our opposites are neither exhaustive nor exclusive. Thinking about the notions of male/female, theist/atheist, and science/non-science, we find current examples of practical importance. Our contrasts often lead to exaggerated polarities. There are beings who are neither male nor female, and beings who are both male and female. There are people who are neither theists nor atheists and, arguably, people who could qualify as both. Also of interest are cases where we try to classify something right outside a framework we have constructed in dualistic terms, as is the case if we ask whether environmental values fall on the left or on the right of the political spectrum. Sometimes, we find cases of indeterminacy, where a thing neither has nor lacks a property that could quite properly apply. For example, Canadian law is presently indeterminate with regard to the status of polygamy. In the course of this discussion, theoretical notions such as the error of contrariety, the vacuousness of the infinite negative, and the reductionism of a false continuum are developed and applied.



Jack A. MacLennan

Student Research Fellow, CRRAR


Rhetorical Frames &

the Invasion of Iraq 


The 2003 invasion of Iraq was one of the most controversial geopolitical events of the last decade. Ambiguity still exists as to whether the invasion was a form of geopolitical posturing, a response to the perceived threat of WMDs, or a military action undertaken to defend the Iraqi population. Using the theories of Schneider & Ingram (1993) and Wendt (1992), this paper examines three rhetorical frames developed for the Iraq problem circa 1998. First, the US was framed as an important international force with a responsibility to address the Hussein regime’s actions. Second, Saddam himself was framed as a deviant who could not be trusted or expected to act in good faith. Third, the Iraqi people were framed as a dependent population deserving of international help. While the Clinton administration attempted to subdue Saddam diplomatically, these measures failed. Having rhetorically constructed the issue in this way, political ‘success’ could only be claimed if Saddam cooperated with international inspection or was removed from power. With diplomacy exposed as an ineffective response, invasion became the most likely policy of the Bush Administration; a conclusion much less conspiratorial than some of the popular and scholarly debate on the invasion.


Wednesday, January 27, 2011

4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Parker House Seminar Room

105 Sunset Ave.

CRRAR Presented:

The Department of Philosophy
The Centre for Research in Reasoning, Argumentation and Rhetoric
present a symposium on


Reason’s Dark Champions: Constructive Strategies of Sophistic Argument
Philologisches Seminar, Eberhard-Karls-Universität, Tübingen
Sophistic Arguments for a Neo-Sophistic Age
The Greek sophists of the fifth century B.C.E. are an elusive group of thinkers. After their contributions to argumentation had long been misrepresented and underrated, in the course of a veritable ‘neo-sophistic turn’ the sophists have most recently enjoyed new and outstanding popularity. I demonstrate to what extent postmodern societies in fact live in a kind of neo-sophistic age, dominated by epistemological relativism, unlimited pluralism, permanent renegotiation of values and communal decision-making based on open debate between opposed positions. I argue that the sophists’ approach to argumentation was not a crude and simplistic one, but was underpinned by epistemological, linguistic and social doctrines not unlike the basic charters of our own postmodern thinking. By elucidating their structures and by pointing out their links with modern approaches toward argumentation, Christopher Tindale’s recent book successfully vindicates sophistic strategies of argument from their former denunciations, turning them into respectable models for contemporary argumentation.
Philosophy, Classical Studies & Theology, University of Western Ontario
Aristotle's Rhetorodicy
We know that, in the earlier part of his intellectual career, Aristotle shared Plato's very negative view of rhetoric as the art of deceit; later, however, he became an energetic proponent of rhetoric, and indeed wrote one of antiquity's best handbooks of rhetorical practice. What were the grounds of this change of heart? Putting aside some rather lame arguments he offers in defence of rhetoric, I point to a stunning but little-noticed claim that he makes, namely that "Rhetoric is useful because things that are true and things that are just have a natural tendency to prevail over their opposites." I ask why on earth Aristotle would believe such a thing as this, and I  find a kind of answer by connecting it with some of his views about ethics.
Katzman Lounge, Vanier Hall
September 23, 4:00 - 6:00 pm
All Are Welcome

Dialectics, Dialogue and Argumentation: An Examination of Douglas Walton's Theories of Reasoning and Argument. Edited by Chris Reed and Christopher W. Tindale. London: College Publications

The festschrift honours Douglas Walton, a leading philosopher of argumentation. His theories of argument structure, whilst rooted in Aristotelian philosophy, have been influential in computer science and artificial intelligence. His theories have a strong empirical side and cover much of how argument and debate is conducted. They examine how the process of exploring disagreement and reaching consensus can be structured, and how the 'nuts and bolts' of reasoning in communication are put together. His theories are increasingly finding application in computer science, where his approach to commitment based modelling of dialogue has influenced the design of protocols for software agents, and his work on argument structure is being used to guide the development of a new, world-wide argument web.
Contributors include: Trudy Govier, Jan Albert van Laar & Erik Krabbe, Fabrizio Macagno, Fabio Paglieri, Chris Reed, Eddo Rigotti & Rudi Palmieri, Trevor Bench-Capon & Katie Atkinson, Frans, van Eemeren, Peter Houtlosser, Constanza Ihnen & Marcin Lewinski, Jean Goodwin, Tom Gordon, David Hitchcock, Henry Prakken, J. Anthony Blair, David Godden, Ralph Johnson, Christopher Tindale, and John Woods.


UNDERSTANDING ‘PROBABLY’ (Click here to read poster)
Dr. Robert C. Pinto
CRRAR Senior Fellow

Following Wilfrid Sellars I argue that, in a basic epistemic sense of probable (in relation to which other epistemically normative senses are to be understood), to say that a proposition is probable is to say that all things considered there is good reason to adopt a positive doxastic attitude toward it. However, where Sellars took the positive doxastic attitude toward P at issue to be accepting P, I argue that we ought to take it to be expecting that P will turn out to be the case. Moreover, rather than trying to understand expecting that P by appealing to the idea of believing that P is probable or likely, I reverse the order of explanation and try to understand believing that P is probable by appealing to the idea of believing that it is reasonable to expect that P. In order to implement this order of explanation, the core of the paper attempts to show how expecting can be type-identified in terms of its functional role in our cognitive lives, without reference to a prior notion of probability. I argue that its functional role can be unpacked in terms of (a) the role that expecting plays in supplying grounds for, among other things, adopting a course of action and (b) the sorts of consideration that give rise to and render reasonable an expectation that P. In the penultimate section of the paper I show how this reading of probable can help us to make sense of how objective numeric probabilities can play a role in epistemic appraisal.

Thursday, March 11th, 2010 4:00 p.m.

CRRAR Visiting Student Fellow 2010
Ewa Wasilewska - Kaminska Ph.D.
Faculty of Pedagogy, Warsaw University, Poland
(Click here for more info)


THE ETHICS OF ARGUMENTATION (click here to read poster)
Prof. J. Anthony Blair
CRRAR Senior Fellow

There seems to be no reason why argumentation should be exempt from the ethical constraints and expectations that apply generally to human conduct, so should argumentation have its own ethics? Perhaps “argumentation ethics” denotes a set of ethical issues especially pertinent to argumentation, similarly to business ethics, etc. Furthermore, many argumentation theorists speak of norms and obligations related to argumentation and possibly (some of) these are moral norms or obligations. I explore these issues in the paper in three ways: I examine a number of candidates for immoral argumentation conduct (distinguishing between morality and etiquette in the process); I argue that four particular types of argument are prima facie immoral, and consider objections to those claims; lastly, I propose the kinds of contexts and circumstances in which argument obligations are moral obligations.

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

CRRAR Presented:

Gerard Hauser


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

ABSTRACT: In 1994 South Africa became an inclusive democracy. That there is a democracy in South Africa is a testimony to political vision and perseverance in the struggle that overthrew apartheid. With most opposition leaders imprisoned and its citizens of color subjected to the harsh social, economic, and political realities of the Afrikaner regime, the odds were stacked against organizing a successful resistance movement; they were even greater against a spirit of truth and reconciliation prevailing should one succeed. Although the social triumph of “truth and reconciliation” remains tenuous, the resistance movement to create a politically inclusive democracy did succeed, and a principle reason for its success was the instruction in political identity and organization that occurred in the least likely place, the state prison on Robben Island. In this talk, Prof. Hauser explores how the prisoners on Robben Island created the conditions for parrhesia (frank speech) to occur and then how their critique reformed the prison quotidian. In the process of reforming the culture of violence within the prison, a second story developed as the prisoners also constituted a political environment that was a projection of the South African democracy to which they aspired.

Professor of Communication at University of Colorado at Boulder and Editor of Philosophy and Rhetoric, Gerard Hauser was Distinguished Visiting Researcher at CRRAR, January 27 - 29, 2010.

CRRAR Presented:


Dr. Douglas Walton
CRRAR Distinguished Research Fellow


In 1962 Michael Scriven argued that satisfactory explanations can be given of everyday events without appealing to covering laws. He also put forward in 2002 the view that explanation is filling in gaps in understanding, part of a process in which we start out with some understanding of something. Building on these views and recent work in AI, this paper models explanation in a dialogue in which one party asks a question requesting understanding of something and the other offers a response that claims to convey the requested understanding. The speech acts of requesting and providing an explanation are represented as rule-governed dialogue moves with distinctive pre and post conditions.

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

CRRAR Presented:


Dr. Rongdong Jin
CRRAR Visiting Research Fellow
East China Normal University Shanghai, China


As a response to Johnson’s call for a two-way interaction between informal logic and epistemology, this paper is aimed at exploring how informal logic could contribute to epistemology. It seems to me that it is only on the level of epistemic preferences presupposed by a theory that we can talk about how epistemology might stand to benefit from informal logic. My first talk will focus on the basic differences between episteme and phronesis in Aristotle’s classification of knowledge. Then I will analyze how deductivism in argument studies shares the same epistemic preferences with the theoretical tradition of knowledge which takes episteme as the paradigm case of knowledge. After that I will discuss some informal logicians’ critique of deductivism and how they pursue a better theory of argument on the basis of those epistemic preferences favored by phronesis. Finally I will try to argue that informal logicians’ critique of deductivism could reinforce the challenge to the mainstream conception of knowledge which has been dominated by episteme since Greek philosophy, and that their reconceptualization of argument not only requires but also could benefit the reconsideration of some key notions developed in traditional epistemology.

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

CRRAR Presented:


Ralph H. Johnson
CRRAR Fellow


In “Informal Logic; An Overview” (2000), Blair and I, while discussing the importance of informal logic, listed as one of its achievements “the end of deductivism.” In “Informal Logic and Epistemology,” Anthropology and Philosophy, Vol. 8(1-2), pp. 69-88, I discussed what I called “latent deductivism” and indicated ways in which the deductivist spirit lingers on in argumentation theory. In this paper, I want to continue to explore these ideas by developing what I call a Nietzschean critique of deductivism. My first task will be to present a clear account of what I take deductivism to be. Then I will discuss can be said for deductivism, after which I will turn to a critique of deductivism from a Nietzschean perspective.

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

CRRAR Presented:

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Dr. Thomas F. Gordon
ELAN Competence Center for eGovernment
Fraunhofer FOKUS
Berlin, Germany


Practical reasoning typically requires a variety of argumentation schemes to be used together to solve problems and make decisions. For example, a legal case may raise issues requiring argument from precedent cases, rules, policy goals, moral principles, jurisprudential doctrine, social values, and evidence. We present an extensible software architecture which allows diverse computational models of argumentation schemes to be used together in an integrated way to construct and search for arguments. The architecture has been implemented in Carneades, a software library for building argumentation tools. The architecture is illustrated with models of schemes for argument from ontologies, rules, cases and testimonial evidence. The Carneades software will be demonstrated during the talk.

CRRAR Presented:

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

Dr. Stephen Pender
Department of English
University of Windsor


From Plato’s description of temperance as “doing all things in an orderly and quiet fashion— for example, walking in the street” through Cicero’s insistence that “in standing or walking, ... let us preserve what we have called ‘propriety’ (decorum)” to Michel de Certeau’s “long poem of walking,” Walter Benjamin’s peripatetics, and contemporary tropes and figures of perambulation, walking has been a variegated, resonant analogy for rhetorical inquiry and performance. Yet in the histories of walking that have appeared in the last few years, no scholar has explored the rich associations of rhetorical hermeneutics with perambulation. By exploring analogies between walking and rhetoric from antiquity to the present, I argue that both rhetoric and urban perambulation enjoin participants to embrace a “responsive pragmatism”, a sensibility underwritten by prudence and sagacity, expressed in the broadest terms by decorum, and grounded on Aristotle’s insistence that rhetoric is interventionist, ethical, that the “true and the approximately true are apprehended by the same faculty.” This faculty, as Seneca recognises, and Plutarch misrepresents, is “ambulatory,” one devoted to apprehending changing circumstances, and one that allows the walker or rhetor to remain “self-consistent.” I finish with a consideration of a Latin phrase attributed to Augustine, solvitur ambulando, it is solved by walking, in order to suggest that rhetorical and aesthetic canons were actively translated into ethical criteria, and in no setting more urgently than in a city.

CRRAR Presented:

August 26th, 2009

Dr. Fabrizio Macagno
Department of Linguistics
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore


Emotive words play a crucial role in argumentation. “Persuasive terms” can be used to lead the interlocutor to the desired conclusion or action. The literature helps explain how persuasive words work; however, their linguistic and argumentative structure is not examined. The crucial questions this paper wants to address are why certain words are persuasive, when the use of such words can be considered persuasive, and when fallacious. The theoretical framework is constituted by the linguistic pragmatic notion of presupposition and the argumentative approach grounded on the notion of argument scheme. Emotive words can be analyzed at three interrelated levels: the semantic, the pragmatic, and the argumentative level. The semantic content of the term specifies its argumentative role; the argumentative role of the statement in its turn is based on a series of propositions, which can be explicit or implicit. The relation between presupposed and the explicit content can provide a possible explanation of the fallacious and reasonable uses of emotive words. Arguments from values and classification are sound arguments when certain conditions are respected; in the case of emotive words, the crucial aspect to be examined is the propositions that are presupposed.


May 25 to June 6, 2009,
For more info about the CRRAR Summer Institute on Argumentation click here.
Photos from the 2009 Summer Institute are now uploaded. Click here to view.

June 3 - 6, 2009
University of Windsor
Click here for more information

Colloquium on Fallacies (Click to view PDF poster)

CRRAR held a Colloquium on Fallacies, on Friday, April 3, 2009. The participants were all members of CRRAR and their papers covered a variety of issues related to fallacy.
The past Colloquium schedule is below.

Schedule of Presentations
1:00 Dr. C. Hundleby: Fallacy Forward: Situating Fallacy Theory
2:15 Dr. H V. Hansen: Conditions for Identifying Fallacies
3:45 Dr C. Tindale: Fallacies from a Rhetorical Perspective
5:00 Dr. D. Walton: Fallacy Theory and Defeasible Reasoning

Fallacy Forward: Situating Fallacy Theory
Dr. Catherine Hundleby
Abstract:I will explore the potential to revise the fallacies approach to reasoning with an aim to making it more relevant to contemporary life and thus valuable as a method of teaching reasoning. This revision requires relegating some of the traditional fallacies to the realm of history and introducing more recently recognized problems in reasoning. One of these problems is adaptationism or the assumption of biological determinism, a form of the naturalistic fallacy which is a fallacy long recognized by philosophers but neglected in our textbooks on argumentation and reasoning. The other is andro-centrism, a ubiquitous problem with reasoning that was thoroughly exposed in the twentieth century but that continues to pervade people’s reasoning. The theoretical and pedagogical significance of these fallacies as well as the general revision of fallacy theory will be discussed

Conditions for Identifying Fallacies
Dr. Hans V. Hansen
Abstract:Rather than worry the theoretical nature of fallacies, this paper considers their practical utility as tools for the evaluation of the illative strength of natural-language arguments. It emerges, I think, that if the no-fallacies method is to have any practical value we need not so much identity conditions for fallacies as we need conditions-for-identifying fallacies.

Fallacies from a Rhetorical Perspective
Dr. Christopher Tindale
Abstract:In this talk, I will consider what fallacies (and some of the problems associated with them) look like from a rhetorical point of view. The discussion will be centred on a critical reading of the theory ascribable to Speech Communication theorists Sally Jackson and Scott Jacobs, who treat fallacies as heuristic devices that become flawed in their operation. That is, fallacies have a potential to create errors, but that potential can only be actualized by an audience. Thus, the response is as important as the misleading move. Emphasizing the role of the recipient shifts the focus in fallacy theory to the interaction between parties rather than the argument. Ultimately, there are problems with this theory, I believe, but its intuitions are both important and suggestive. As time permits, I hope to draw out some of these and propose directions for future research.

Fallacy theory and Defeasible Reasoning
Dr. Douglas Walton
Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to advance the theory of fallacy developed in A Pragmatic Theory of Fallacy (1995) beyond its state of development in that book. Very little appears to have been done on studying the concept of fallacy during the twelve years since the publication of that book, and the only competing theory of fallacy that has been developed to a comparable state is that of the Amsterdam School. What has changed is that there have been several important developments in the field of artificial intelligence and cognitive science concerning the nature of defeasible reasoning and heuristics that have significant consequences concerning the concept of fallacy. These developments call for a rethinking of the notion of fallacy in the present climate of opinion about argumentation, and for an extension of the theory developed in A Pragmatic Theory of Fallacy.I will undertake to shed some light on these two tasks in this paper.

Walton Lecture
April 2, 2009

Heuristics and Fallacies
Fallacies are common errors in reasoning like hasty generalization, ad hominem, straw person, and so forth. Heuristics are rules of thumb, or educated guesses, that enable us to rapidly come to a workable solution that may turn out to be suboptimal once more is known. Some forms of argument, like argument from expert opinion, are commonly used as heuristics. Such heuristics are necessary in rational thinking. The problem is that most useful heuristics can easily turn out to be fallacious. This lecture surveyed a few of the most common forms of argument to see how a good heuristic can go wrong.

CRRAR Visit by Takuzo Konishi

Takuzo Konishi, who is preparing an oral history of informal logic, visited CRRAR 23-27 February 2009. He interviewed Ralph Johnson and Anthony Blair about the early history of informal logic at the University of Windsor and the publication of the first edition of Logical Self-Defense. He also worked in the Informal Logic Archives at the University of Windsor’s Leddy Library, to which Johnson and Blair have donated their papers. Konishi holds an M.A. in communications from Wayne State University and an M.A. in philosophy from the University of Windsor, where his M.A. major paper, "Stasis Theory and Arguer’s Dialectical Obligations," was supervised by Blair. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in communications at the University of Pittsburgh.

Visit by Dr. Michael  Leff

From February 25-27, the Centre for Research in Reasoning, Argumentation and Rhetoric hosted Dr. Michael Leff, Chair of the Department of Communication at the University of Memphis, as a visiting research scholar.  Dr. Leff had individual discussions with members of CRRAR, gave a lecture open to students and the public, and participated in a roundtable.

  • Lecture: What is Rhetoric?
  • A Lecture by distinguished visiting scholar, Dr. Michael Leff  Professor of Communications,University of Memphis.
  • Roundtable: What is Rhetoric?
  • A Roundtable Discussion featuring Dale Jacobs [English],Stephen Pender [English], Christopher Tindale [Philosophy], and distinguished visiting scholar, Dr. Michael Leff .
  • Co-Sponsored by the Centre and Dr. Stephen Pender,Research Leadership Chair,Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences