Papers

Godden, D. (2017, forthcoming). Presumption as a modal qualifier: Presumption, inference, and managing epistemic risk. Argumentation: An International Journal on Reasoning, vol, pp-pp. doi: 10.1007/s10503-017-9422-1
abstract | pdf | http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10503-017-9422-1 | The final publication is available at Springer via: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10503-017-9422-1. | Full text preview only version at: http://rdcu.be/peze

Standards and norms for reasoning function, in part, to manage epistemic risk. Properly used, modal qualifiers like presumably have a role in systematically managing epistemic risk by flagging and tracking type-specific epistemic merits and risks of the claims they modify. Yet, argumentation-theoretic accounts of presumption often define it in terms of modalities of other kinds, thereby failing to recognize the unique risk profile of each. This paper offers a stipulative account of presumption, inspired by Ullmann-Margalit (J Philos 80:143–163, 1983), as an inferentially generated modal qualifier, “presumably, p,” distinguishing it from other, particularly epistemic modalities, e.g., standing commitments, assumptions, assertions, suppositions, hypotheses, and defeasible claims. By avoiding the tranching of inferential instruments of qualitatively different bona fides and risk profiles, this account provides a more accurate risk-rating system that better manages epistemic risk in inference, as well as contributing to the normative theory of the operation of presumption in reasoning and argument.

Godden, D. and Zenker, F. (2016, forthcoming). A probabilistic analysis of argument cogency. Synthese, vol, pp-pp. doi: 10.1007/s11229-016-1299-2
abstract | pdf | http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11229-016-1299-2 | The final publication is available at Springer via: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11229-016-1299-2. | Full text preview only version at: http://rdcu.be/oejr

This paper offers a probabilistic treatment of the conditions for argument cogency as endorsed in informal logic: acceptability, relevance, and sufficiency (RSA). Treating a natural language argument as a reason-claim-complex, our analysis identifies content features of defeasible argument on which the RSA conditions depend, namely: (i) change in the commitment to the reason, (ii) the reason’s sensitivity and selectivity to the claim, (iii) one’s prior commitment to the claim, and (iv) the contextually determined thresholds of acceptability for reasons and for claims. Results contrast with, and may indeed serve to correct, the informal understanding and applications of the RSA criteria concerning their conceptual (in)dependence, their function as update-thresholds, and their status as obligatory rather than permissive norms, but also show how these formal and informal normative approaches can in fact align.

Godden, D. (2016, forthcoming). On the norms of visual argument: A case for normative non-revisionism. Argumentation: An International Journal on Reasoning, vol, pp-pp. doi: 10.1007/s10503-016-9411-9
abstract | pdf | http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10503-016-9411-9 | The final publication is available at Springer via: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10503-016-9411-9. | Full text preview only version at: http://rdcu.be/kn8r

Visual arguments can seem to require unique, autonomous evaluative norms, since their content seems irreducible to, and incommensurable with, that of verbal arguments. Yet, assertions of the ineffability of the visual, or of visual-verbal incommensurability, seem to preclude counting putatively irreducible visual content as functioning argumentatively. By distinguishing two notions of content, informational and argumentative, I contend that arguments differing in informational content can have equivalent argumentative content, allowing the same argumentative norms to be rightly applied in their evaluation.

Godden, D. (2017). Mill on logic. In C. Macleod and D.E. Miller (Eds.), A Companion to Mill (pp. 175-191). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
abstract | pdf | online

Working within the broad lines of general consensus that mark out the core features of John Stuart Mill’s (1806–1873) logic, as set forth in his A System of Logic (1843–1872), this chapter provides an introduction to Mill’s logical theory by reviewing his position on the relationship between induction and deduction, and the role of general premises and principles in reasoning. Locating induction, understood as a kind of analogical reasoning from particulars to particulars, as the basic form of inference that is both free-standing and the sole load-bearing structure in Mill’s logic, the foundations of Mill’s logical system are briefly inspected. Several naturalistic features are identified, including its subject matter, human reasoning, its empiricism, which requires that only particular, experiential claims can function as basic reasons, and its ultimate foundations in ‘spontaneous’ inference. The chapter concludes by comparing Mill’s naturalized logic to Russell’s (1907) regressive method for identifying the premises of mathematics.

Godden, D. (2016). On the priority of agent-based argumentative norms. Topoi: An International Review of Philosophy, 35, 345-357. doi: 10.1007/s11245-014-9296-x
abstract | pdf | http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11245-014-9296-x | The final publication is available at link.springer.com.

This paper argues against the priority of pure, virtue-based accounts of argumentative norms [VA]. Such accounts are agent-based and committed to the priority thesis: good arguments and arguing well are explained in terms of some prior notion of the virtuous arguer arguing virtuously. Two problems with the priority thesis are identified. First, the definitional problem: virtuous arguers arguing virtuously are neither sufficient nor necessary for good arguments. Second, the priority problem: the goodness of arguments is not explained virtuistically. Instead, being excellences, virtues are instrumental in relation to other, non-aretaic goods – in this case, reason and rationality. Virtues neither constitute reasons nor explain their goodness. Two options remain for VA: either provide some account of reason and rationality in virtuistic terms, or accept them as given but non-aretaic goods. The latter option, though more viable, demands the concession that VA cannot provide the core norms of argumentation theory.

Godden, D. (2016). Pushing the bounds of rationality: Argumentation and extended cognition. In F. Paglieri, L. Bonelli, and S. Felletti (Eds.), The psychology of argument: Cognitive approaches to argumentation and persuasion (pp. 67-83). Studies in Logic and Argumentation. London: College Publications.
abstract | pdf | online

One of the central tasks of a theory of argumentation is to supply a theory of appraisal: a set of standards and norms according to which argumentation, and the reasoning involved in it, is properly evaluated. In their most general form, these can be understood as rational norms, where the core idea of rationality is that we rightly respond to reasons by according the credence we attach to our doxastic and conversational commitments with the probative strength of the reasons we have for them. Certain kinds of rational failings are so because they are manifestly illogical – for example, maintaining overtly contradictory commitments, violating deductive closure by refusing to accept the logical consequences of one’s present commitments, or failing to track basing relations by not updating one’s commitments in view of new, defeating information. Yet, according to the internal and empirical critiques, logic and probability theory fail to supply a fit set of norms for human reasoning and argument. Particularly, theories of bounded rationality have put pressure on argumentation theory to lower the normative standards of rationality for reasoners and arguers on the grounds that we are bounded, finite, and fallible agents incapable of meeting idealized standards. This paper explores the idea that argumentation, as a set of practices, together with the procedures and technologies of argumentation theory, is able to extend cognition such that we are better able to meet these idealized logical standards, thereby extending our responsibilities to adhere to idealized rational norms.

Godden, D. (2015). Argumentation, rationality, and psychology of reasoning. Informal Logic: Reasoning and Argumentation in Theory and Practice, 35, 135-166.
abstract | pdf | online

This paper locates a common picture of argumentative rationality and identifies some implicit assumptions. Argumentative rationality is contrasted with dual-process theories of reasoning and rationality prevalent in the psychology of reasoning. I argue that argumentative rationality properly corresponds only with system-2 reasoning in dual-process theories. This challenges the prescriptive force of argumentative norms, if they derive from their descriptive accuracy of our cognitive processes. As a remedy, I propose an activity-based account of reasoning that retains the assumptions of argumentative rationality while recontextualizing the relationship between reasoning as a justificatory activity and the psychological states and processes underlying it.

Godden, D. (2015). Images as arguments: Progress and problems, a brief commentary. Argumentation: An International Journal on Reasoning, 29, 235-238.
abstract | pdf | http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10503-015-9345-7 | The final publication is available at link.springer.com.

This brief editorial considers a special issue of Argumentation edited by Jens Kjeldsen on visual, multimodal argumentation. It provides a commentary on important advances on interpretative problems such as the propositionality of argument, the reducibility of images to words, whether argument products are primarily cognitive artifacts, and the nature of a modality of argument. Concerning the project of argument appraisal, it considers whether visual arguments call for a revision of our normative, evaluative apparatus.

Godden, D. and Zenker F. (2015). Denying antecedents and affirming consequents: The state of the art. Informal Logic: Reasoning and Argumentation in Theory and Practice, 35, 88-134.
abstract | pdf | online

Recent work on conditional reasoning argues that denying the antecedent [DA] and affirming the consequent [AC] are defeasible but cogent patterns of argument, either because they are effective, rational, albeit heuristic applications of Bayesian probability, or because they are licensed by the principle of total evidence. Against this, we show that on any prevailing interpretation of indicative conditionals the premises of DA and AC arguments do not license their conclusions without additional assumptions. The cogency of DA and AC inferences rather depends on contingent factors extrinsic to, and independent of, what is asserted by DA and AC arguments.

Godden, D. (2015). Review of D. Walton, Burden of proof, presumption, and argumentation. Cogency: Journal of Reasoning and Argumentation, 7, 91-107.
pdf | online

Godden, D. (2014). Modeling corroborative evidence: Inference to the best explanation as counter-rebuttal. Argumentation: An International Journal on Reasoning, 28, 187-220.
abstract | pdf | http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10503-013-9308-9 | The final publication is available at link.springer.com.

Corroborative evidence has a dual function in argument. Primarily, it functions to provide direct evidence supporting the main conclusion. But it also has a secondary, bolstering function which increases the probative value of some other piece of evidence in the argument. This paper argues that the bolstering effect of corroborative evidence is legitimate, and can be explained as counter-rebuttal achieved through inference to the best explanation. A model (argument diagram) of corroborative evidence, representing its structure and operation as a schematic pattern of defeasible argument is also supplied. In addition to explaining the operation and theoretical foundation of corroborative evidence, the model facilitates the correct analysis and guides the evaluation (assessment and critique) of corroborative evidence as it occurs in argument.

Godden, D. (2014). Teaching rational entitlement and responsibility: A Socratic exercise. Informal Logic: Reasoning and Argumentation in Theory and Practice, Teaching Supplement, 34, 124-151.
abstract | pdf | online | watch a video demonstration of the exercise presented January 22, 2015 to Old Dominion University's Provost's Conversations on Teaching and Learning

The paper reports on a Socratic exercise that introduces participants to the norm of rational entitlement, as distinct from political entitlement, and the attendant norm of rational responsibility. The exercise demonstrates that, because participants are not willing to exchange their own opinion at random for another differing opinion to which the owner is, by the participants’ own admission, entitled, they treat their entitlement to their own opinion differently, giving it a special status. This gives rise to rational obligations such as the obligation to provide reasons, and a willingness to risk those opinions to the force of the better reason.

Godden, D. (2014). Mill’s System of Logic. In W.J. Mander (Ed.), Oxford handbook of British philosophy in the nineteenth century (pp. 44-70). Oxford: Oxford UP.
abstract | pdf | http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199594474.013.014
google books preview

This chapter situates Mill’s System of Logic (1843/1872) in the context of some of the meta-logical themes and disputes characteristic of the 19th century as well as Mill’s empiricism. Particularly, by placing the Logic in relation to Whately’s (1827) Elements of Logic and Mill’s response to the “great paradox” of the informativeness of syllogistic reasoning, the chapter explores the development of Mill’s views on the foundation, function, and the relation between ratiocination and induction. It provides a survey of the Mill-Whewell debate on the nature of induction, Mill’s account of putatively a priori disciplines such as the science of number, and Frege’s criticisms of the Logic as psychologistic.

Godden, D. (2012). Rethinking the debriefing paradigm: The rationality of belief perseverance. Logos & Episteme, 3, 51-74.
abstract | pdf | online

By examining particular cases of belief perseverance following the undermining of their original evidentiary grounds, this paper considers two theories of rational belief revision: foundation and coherence. Gilbert Harman has argued for coherence over foundationalism on the grounds that the foundations theory absurdly deems most of our beliefs to be not rationally held. A consequence of the unacceptability of foundationalism is that belief perseverance is rational. This paper defends the intuitive judgement that belief perseverance is irrational by offering a competing explanation of what goes on in cases like the debriefing paradigm which does not rely upon foundationalist principles but instead shows that such cases are properly viewed as instances of positive undermining of the sort described by the coherence theory.

Godden, D. (2012). The role of mental states in argumentation: Two problems for rationality from the psychology of belief. In F. Paglieri, L. Tummolini, R. Falcone, and M. Miceli (Eds.), The goals of cognition: Essays in honor of Cristiano Castelfranchi (pp. 123-143). London: College Publications.
abstract | pdf | online

This chapter recognizes the contributions made to the theory of argument by the work of Cristiano Castelfranchi, together with Fabio Paglieri, by situating their work in the development of social, or process-based accounts of argumentation. It is argued that this orientation to the social requires grounding in the psychological, and thus calls for a belief-based perspective on argumentation. It is shown how Castelfranchi’s work on the ontology of belief in relation to goals and intentions, together with the Data-oriented Belief Revision model contributes to this approach by bridging the gap between the social and the psychological. The paper concludes by raising two problems for standard models of argument arising from the psychology of belief: (i) that we seem to lack adequate voluntary control over our beliefs to be rationally responsible for them, and (ii) that we seem not to be reason trackers in the way required by standard accounts of rationality employed in argumentation.

Godden, D., Groarke, L. and Hansen, H. (2011). Informal logic and argumentation: An Alta conversation. In R. Roland (Ed.), Reasoned argument and social change: Selected papers from the 17th biennial conference on argumentation (pp. 48-62). Washington, DC: National Communication Association. Alta, Utah, July 28-31, 2011.
abstract | pdf |

Informal logic is both a pedagogical and a theoretical endeavour. It began as a response to formal logic which attempted to provide an analysis and assessment of argument which is better suited to the study of informal arguments - often described as “natural language” or “everyday” arguments. “IL” (as it is sometimes designated) is a field rather than a school of thought, and characterized by many different and sometimes contrary approaches and perspectives. While its development is characterized by an ever broadening interest in informal argumentation in all its forms, it maintains a focus on inference understood in terms of the relationship between premises and conclusions, and on the normative analysis of arguments in this sense. In the course of its development it has been influenced, and continues to interact with dialectical and rhetorical approaches to argument. This paper is intended as catalyst to further discussion and debate.

Godden, D. (2010). The importance of belief in argumentation: Belief, commitment and the effective resolution of a difference of opinion. Synthese, 172, 397-414.
abstract | pdf | http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11229-008-9398-3

This paper examines the adequacy of commitment change, as a measure of the successful resolution of a difference of opinion. I argue that differences of opinion are only effectively resolved if commitments undertaken in argumentation survive beyond its conclusion and go on to govern an arguer’s actions in everyday life, e.g., by serving as premises in her practical reasoning. Yet this occurs, I maintain, only when an arguer’s beliefs are changed, not merely her commitments.

Godden, D. (2010). Corroborative evidence. In C. Reed and C.W. Tindale (Eds.), Dialectics, dialogue and argumentation: An examination of Douglas Walton's theories of reasoning and argument (pp. 201-212). London: College Publications.
abstract | pdf | online

Corroborative evidence can have a dual function in argument whereby not only does it have a primary function of providing direct evidence supporting the main conclusion, but it also has a secondary, bolstering function which increases the probative value of some other piece of evidence in the argument. It has been argued (Redmayne, 2000) that this double function gives rise to the fallacy of double counting whereby the probative weight of evidence is overvalued by counting it twice. Walton has proposed several models of corroborative evidence, each of which seems to accept the fallaciousness of double counting thereby seeming to deny the dual function of corroborative evidence. Against this view, I argue that the bolstering effect is legitimate, and can be explained by recourse to inference to the best explanation.

Godden, D. and Brenner, W. (2010). Wittgenstein and the logic of deep disagreement. Cogency: Journal of Reasoning and Argumentation, 2, 41-80.
abstract | pdf | online

In “The logic of deep disagreements” (Informal Logic, 1985), Robert Fogelin claimed that there is a kind of disagreement – deep disagreement – which is, by its very nature, impervious to rational resolution. He further claimed that these two views are attributable to Wittgenstein. Following an exposition and discussion of that claim, we review and draw some lessons from existing responses in the literature to Fogelin’s claims. In the final two sections (6 and 7) we explore the role reason can, and sometimes does, play in the resolution of deep disagreements. In doing this we discuss a series of cases, mainly drawn from Wittgenstein, which we take to illustrate the resolution of deep disagreements through the use of what we call “rational persuasion.” We conclude that, while the role of argumentation in “normal” versus “deep” disagreements is characteristically different, it plays a crucial role in the resolution of both.

Godden, D. and Griffin, N. (2009). Psychologism and the development of Russell’s account of propositions. History and Philosophy of Logic, 30, 171-186.
abstract | pdf | http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01445340902731802

This paper examines the development of Russell’s treatment of propositions, in relation to the topic of psychologism. In the first section, we outline the concept of psychologism, and show how it can arise in relation to theories of the nature of propositions. Following this, we note the anti-psychologistic elements of Russell’s thought dating back to his idealist roots. From there, we sketch the development of Russell’s theory of the proposition through a number of its key transitions. We show that Russell, in responding to a variety of different problems relating to the proposition, chose to resolve these problems in ways that continually made concessions to psychologism.

Godden, D. (2008). On common knowledge and ad populum: Acceptance as grounds for acceptability. Philosophy & Rhetoric, 41, 101-129.
abstract | pdf | http://www.jstor.org/stable/25655305

Typically, common knowledge is taken as grounds for the acceptability of a claim, while appeals to popularity are seen as fallacious attempts to support a claim. This paper poses the question of whether there is any categorical difference between appeals to common knowledge and appeals to popular opinion as argumentative moves. In answering this question, I argue that appeals to common knowledge do not, on their own, provide adequate grounds for a claim’s acceptability.

Godden, D. and Walton, D. (2008). Defeasibility in judicial opinion: Logical or procedural? Informal Logic: Reasoning and Argumentation in Theory and Practice, 28, 5-15.
abstract | pdf | online

While defeasibility in legal reasoning has been the subject of recent scholarship, it has yet to be studied in the context of judicial opinion. Yet, being subject to appeal, judicial decisions can default for a variety of reasons. Prakken (2001) argued that the defeasibility affecting reasoning involved in adversarial legal argumentation is best analysed as procedural rather than logical. In this paper we argue that the defeasibility of ratio decendi is similarly best explained and modeled in a procedural and dialectical framework. We propose that appeals are best understood as meta-dialogues about the reasoned dialogue occurring in the initial trial.

Godden, D. and Walton, D. (2007). A theory of presumption for everyday argumentation. Pragmatics & Cognition, 15, 313-346.
abstract | pdf | http://dx.doi.org/10.1075/pc.15.2.06god

The paper considers contemporary models of presumption in terms of their ability to contribute to a working theory of presumption for argumentation. Beginning with the Whatelian model, we consider its contemporary developments and alternatives, as proposed by Sidgwick, Kauffeld, Cronkhite, Rescher, Walton, Freeman, Ullmann-Margalit, and Hansen. Based on these accounts, we present a picture of presumptions characterized by their nature, function, foundation and force. On our account, presumption is a modal status that is attached to a claim and has the effect of shifting, in a dialogue, a burden of proof set at a local level. Presumptions can be analysed and evaluated inferentially as components of rule-based structures. Presumptions are defeasible, and the force of a presumption is a function of its normative foundation. This picture seeks to provide a framework to guide the development of specific theories of presumption.

Godden, D. and Walton, D. (2007). Advances in the theory of argumentation schemes and critical questions. Informal Logic: Reasoning and Argumentation in Theory and Practice, 27, 267-292.
abstract | pdf | online

This paper begins a working through of Blair’s (2001) theoretical agenda concerning argumentation schemes and their attendant critical questions, in which we propose a number of solutions to some outstanding theoretical issues. We consider the classification of schemes, their ultimate nature, their role in argument reconstruction, their foundation as normative categories of argument, and the evaluative role of critical questions. We demonstrate the role of schemes in argument reconstruction, and defend a normative account of their nature against specific criticisms due to Pinto (2001). Concerning critical questions, we propose an account on which they are founded in the R.S.A. cogency standard, and develop an account of the relationship between critical questions and burden of proof. Our ultimate aim is to initiate a reconciliation between dialectical and informal logic approaches to the schemes.

Walton, D. and Godden, D. (2007). Informal logic and the dialectical approach to argument. In H.V. Hansen and R.C. Pinto (Eds.), Reason Reclaimed (pp. 3-17). Newport News, VA: Vale Press.
abstract | pdf

Undoubtedly, Ralph H. Johnson and J. Anthony Blair are two of the patriarchs of informal logic (IL), and they remain its most recognized exponents. The informal logic movement initially began as a rejection of the tools of formal logic as an effective means of analysing and evaluating everyday reasoning and argumentation. As it developed, IL began to adopt a dialectical conception of its subject matter, and started to utilize the theoretical and methodological tools associated with this approach. This paper explores the influence of the dialectical conception of argument on the development of informal logic. Noting that neither Blair nor Johnson has embraced a dialogic approach to the dialectical, we situate Walton’s dialog-based approach in relation to that of informal logic.

Godden, D. (2006). Departmental boundaries within the corporate body of theory: Quine on the holistic foundations of logic. Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review, 45, 505-528.
abstract | pdf | http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0012217300001037

This paper argues that Quine’s holisitc and naturalized semantics provides an inadequate account of the foundations of logical expressions, and misrepresents the internal structure of theories. By considering a Quinean model of theoretical revision, I identify the status and foundation holism provides to the propositions of logic. I contend that a central tenet of Quinean holism - the Revisability Doctrine - cannot be held consistently, and that the inconsistencies surrounding it mark a series of pervasive errors within naturalized holism. In response, I propose that semantic theories must reflect the different linguistic functions of different types of expressions, and the specific relationships that individual concepts within a theory or language have to one another.

Godden, D. and Walton, D. (2006). Argument from expert opinion as legal evidence: Critical questions and admissibility criteria of expert testimony in the American legal system. Ratio Juris, 19, 261-286.
abstract | pdf | http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9337.2006.00331.x

While courts depend on expert opinions in reaching sound judgments, the role of the expert witness in legal proceedings is associated with a litany of problems. Perhaps most prevalent is the question of under what circumstances should testimony be admitted as expert opinion. We review the changing policies adopted by American courts in an attempt to ensure the reliability and usefulness of the scientific and technical information admitted as evidence. We argue that these admissibility criteria are best seen in a dialectical context as a set of critical questions of the kind commonly used in models of argumentation.

Walton, D. and Godden, D. (2006). Alternatives to suspicion and trust as conditions for challenge in argumentative dialogue. In P. Riley (Ed.), Engaging Argument: Selected Papers from the 2005 NCA/AFA Summer Conference on Argumentation (pp. 438-444). Washington DC: NCA.
abstract | pdf

A problem for dialogue models of argumentation is to specify a set of conditions under which an opponent’s claims, offered in support of a standpoint under dispute, ought to be challenged. This project is related to the issue of providing a set of acceptability conditions for claims made in a dialogue. In this paper, we consider the conditions of suspicion and trust articulated by Jacobs (Alta, 2003), arguing that neither are acceptable as general conditions for challenge. We propose a third condition that attempts to mark a middle ground between suspicion and trust.

Walton, D. and Godden, D. (2006). The impact of argumentation on artificial intelligence. In M.A. van Rees and P. Houtlosser (Eds.), Considering Pragma-Dialectics (pp. 287-299). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2006.
abstract | pdf [uncorrected page proofs posted]

In this chapter, we explore the development and importance of the connection between argumentation and artificial intelligence. Specifically, we show that the influence of argumentation on AI has occurred within a framework that is consistent with the basic approach of Pragma-Dialectics. While the pragma-dialectical approach is typically conceived of as applying primarily to argumentation occurring between human agents, we show that the basic features of this approach can consistently be applied in a virtual context, whereby the goal-directed activities of, and exchanges of information between, artificial agents are regulated by procedural rules.

Godden, D. (2005). Psychologism in the logic of John Stuart Mill: Mill on the subject matter and foundations of ratiocinative logic. History and Philosophy of Logic, 26, 115-143.
abstract | pdf | http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01445340412331332809

The paper considers the question of whether Mill’s account of the nature and justificatory foundations of deductive logic is psychologistic. Logical psychologism asserts the dependency of logic on psychology. Frequently, this dependency arises as a result of a metaphysical thesis asserting the psychological nature of the subject matter of logic. A study of Mill’s System of Logic and his Examination reveals that Mill held an equivocal view of the subject matter of logic sometimes treating it as a set of psychological processes, and at other times as the objects of those processes. The consequences of each of these views upon the justificatory foundations or logic are explored. The paper concludes that, despite his providing logic with a prescriptive function, and despite his avoidance of conceptualism, Mill’s theory fails to provide deductive logic with a justificatory foundation that is independent of psychology.

Godden, D. (2005). Deductivism as an interpretative strategy: A reply to Groarke’s defense of reconstructive deductivism. Argumentation and Advocacy: Journal of the American Forensic Association, 41, 168-183.
abstract | pdf | online

Deductivism has been variously presented as an evaluative thesis and as an interpretive one. I argue that deductivism fails as a universal evaluative thesis, and as such that its value as an interpretive thesis must be supported on other grounds. As a reconstructive strategy, deductivism is justified only on the grounds that an arguer is, or ought to be, aiming at the deductive standard of evidence. As such, the reconstruction of an argument as deductive must be supported by contextual and situational factors including facts about the arguer. Further, the plausibility of deductivism as a normative thesis is not tied to its plausibility as a descriptive or interpretive thesis.

Walton, D. and Godden, D. (2005). Persuasion dialogue in online dispute resolution. Artificial Intelligence and Law, 13, 273-295.
abstract | pdf | http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10506-006-9014-0

In this paper we show how dialogue-based theories of argumentation can contribute to the construction of effective systems of dispute resolution. Specifically we consider the role of persuasion in online dispute resolution by showing how persuasion dialogues can be functionally embedded in negotiation dialogues, and how negotiation dialogues can shift to persuasion dia- logues. We conclude with some remarks on how persuasion dialogues might be modelled is such a way as to allow them to be implemented in a mechanical or computerized system of dialogue or dialogue management.

Godden, D. and Walton, D. (2004). Denying the antecedent as a legitimate argumentative strategy: A dialectical model. Informal Logic: Reasoning and Argumentation in Theory and Practice, 24, 219-243.
abstract | pdf | online

The standard account of denying the antecedent (DA) is that it is a deductively invalid form of argument, and that, in a conditional argument, to argue from the falsity of the antecedent to the falsity of the consequent is always fallacious. In this paper we argue that DA is not always a fallacious argumentative strategy. Instead, there is a legitimate usage of DA according to which it is a defeasible argument against the acceptability of a claim. The dialectical effect of denying the antecedent is to shift the burden of proof back to the original proponent of a claim. We provide a model of this non-fallacious usage which is built upon pragmatic models of argumentation.

Godden, D. (2003). Arguing at cross-purposes: Discharging the dialectical obligations of the coalescent model of argumentation. Argumentation: An International Journal on Reasoning, 17, 219-243.
abstract | pdf | http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/A:1024032009784

The paper addresses the manner in which the theory of Coalescent Argumentation [CA] has been received by the Argumentation Theory community. I begin (section 2) by providing a theoretical overview of the Coalescent model of argumentation as developed by Michael A. Gilbert (1997). I next engage the several objections that have been raised against CA (section 3). I contend that objectors to the Coalescent model are not properly sensitive to the theoretical consequences of the genuinely situated nature of argument. I conclude (section 4) by suggesting that the resolution to the dispute between Gilbert and his objectors hinges on the outcome of several foundational theoretical questions identified over the course of the paper.

 

Ph.D. Dissertation

Godden, D. (2004). Psychologism, Semantics, and the Subject Matter of Logic. Hamilton, ON: McMaster University.
abstract | pdf | dissertation on McMaster University Libraries Open Access Repository

Despite a pronounced rejection of psychologism at the turn of the previous century, contemporary epistemology has witnessed its pervasive return. This inquiry seeks to contribute to a philosophical resolution of the psychologism debate, not by defending anti-psychologism against its historical and contemporary objectors, but by offering a perspective from which a viable anti-psychologism might be articulated.
Psychologism about logic is a family of views asserting a dependency of logic on psychology. Typically, such a dependence jeopardizes the objectivity and necessity of logic. Frequently, this dependency is established through the metaphysical claim that the subject matter of logic is psychological in nature.
Metaphysical accounts of logic explain its status and foundation in terms of its subject matter. Standard accounts have portrayed the subject matter of logic as a class of mental entities (ideas), abstract entities, or concrete, particular entities. Following a review of Frege’s critique of psychologism (the first option), I consider historical representatives of the two remaining alternatives: Frege’s Platonism and Mill’s empiricism. Witnessing the failings of each of these theories, I turn to a positivistic account which provides logic with a linguistic, rather than a metaphysical, foundation.
As an alternative to metaphysical accounts, I consider the view that logic has no subject matter. I argue that metaphysical accounts of logic may be equivalently expressed as theses concerning the semantics of the logical lexicon. Specifically, the question of psychologism may be seen as the question of how to properly explain the semantics of the logical lexicon. I engage Quine’s response to positivistic accounts of logic, arguing that his naturalised holism misconstrues logic’s function in theory and its foundation. I suggest that a pragmatic account of logic, focussing on the linguistic function of logical expressions in our language, may provide a viable alternative for explaining the nature and foundation of logic.
April, 2004

 

Juvenilia

Godden, D. (1999). The problems of individuality and incommensurability in Raz's The Morality of Freedom. De Philosophia, 15, 33-50.
abstract | pdf

Davidson writes that disagreements can only arise in the larger context of agreement, and it is this context into which I should like to offer the present reflections. As T.S. Eliot wrote, “It is not that the world of separate individuals of the liberal democrat is undesirable; it is simply that this world does not exist.” And so it is, that this work is addressed to those who share in the responsibility of the creation and maintenance of the conditions in which individuality can arise. The paper voices two critical observations, one moral, and one political, designed to identify problematic areas for any project with the afore-mentioned goals. The moral criticism argues that Raz has not adequately distinguished incommensurability from a number of alternatives including value-hierarchy and value-indeterminacy, thus maintaining that incommensurability, as Raz defines it, could not actually arise in any morally significant situations. The political criticism observes that, even if Raz’s argument against individualism is successful, he still owes his readers an account of the good, without which his political theory is compromised.

Godden, D. (1998). Language and acquisition in Chomskian theory. Discourse, 4, 64-82.
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Godden, D. (1996). Nehamas' Life as Literature: A case for the defense. Kinesis, 23, 29-46.
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