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Philosophy Logic

Arguments from Ignorance

by (author) Douglas Walton

Publisher
Penn State University Press
Initial publish date
Dec 1995
Category
Logic, Rhetoric, Criticism
  • Hardback

    ISBN
    9780271014746
    Publish Date
    Dec 1995
    List Price
    $91.95
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9780271014753
    Publish Date
    Sep 1995
    List Price
    $64.95

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Description

Arguments from Ignorance explores the situations in which the argument from ignorance (also known as the lack-of-knowledge inference, negative evidence, or default reasoning) functions as a respectable form of reasoning and those in which it is indeed fallacious. Douglas Walton draws on everyday conversations on all kinds of practical matters in which the argumentum ad ignorantiam is used quite appropriately to infer conclusions. He also discusses the inappropriate use of this kind of argument, referring to various major case studies, including the Salem witchcraft trials, the McCarthy hearings, and the Alger Hiss case.

This book makes an original contribution in the areas of argumentation theory and informal logic, contending that, despite its traditional classification as a fallacy, the argument from ignorance is a genuine, very common, and legitimate type of argumentation with an identifiable structure. But the book is also interdisciplinary in scope, explaining many widely interesting and controversial subjects in artificial intelligence, medical education, philosophy of science, and philosophy of law in a clear way that makes it accessible to a broad range of readers.

 

About the author

Douglas N. Walton is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Winnipeg. He has published two books with Penn State Press, The Place of Emotion in Argument (1992) and Arguments from Ignorance (1995). Other recent books of his include Slippery Slope Arguments (1992) and Plausible Arguments in Everyday Conversation (1992).

Douglas Walton's profile page

Other titles by Douglas Walton