Virtue theories have become influential in ethics and epistemology. This paper argues for a similar approach to argumentation. Several potential obstacles to virtue theories in general, and to this new application in particular, are considered and rejected. A first attempt is made at a survey of argumentational virtues, and finally it is argued that the dialectical nature of argumentation makes it particularly suited for virtue theoretic analysis.
What should a virtue theory of argumentation say about fallacious reasoning? If good arguments are virtuous, then fallacies are vicious. Yet fallacies cannot just be identified with vices, since vices are dispositional properties of agents whereas fallacies are types of argument. Rather, if the normativity of good argumentation is explicable in terms of virtues, we should expect the wrongness of bad argumentation to be explicable in terms of vices. This approach is defended through analysis of several fallacies, with particular emphasis (...) on the ad misericordiam. (shrink)
Deep disagreements are characteristically resistant to rational resolution. This paper explores the contribution a virtue theoretic approach to argumentation can make towards settling the practical matter of what to do when confronted with apparent deep disagreement, with particular attention to the virtue of courage.
The traditional view of evidence in mathematics is that evidence is just proof and proof is just derivation. There are good reasons for thinking that this view should be rejected: it misrepresents both historical and current mathematical practice. Nonetheless, evidence, proof, and derivation are closely intertwined. This paper seeks to tease these concepts apart. It emphasizes the role of argumentation as a context shared by evidence, proofs, and derivations. The utility of argumentation theory, in general, and argumentation schemes, in particular, (...) as a methodology for the study of mathematical practice is thereby demonstrated. Argumentation schemes represent an almost untapped resource for mathematics education. Notably, they provide a consistent treatment of rigorous and non-rigorous argumentation, thereby working to exhibit the continuity of reasoning in mathematics with reasoning in other areas. Moreover, since argumentation schemes are a comparatively mature methodology, there is a substantial body of existing work to draw upon, including some increasingly sophisticated software tools. Such tools have significant potential for the analysis and evaluation of mathematical argumentation. The first four sections of the paper address the relationships of evidence to proof, proof to derivation, argument to proof, and argument to evidence, respectively. The final section directly addresses some of the educational implications of an argumentation scheme account of mathematical reasoning. (shrink)
This chapter focuses on alternative logics. It discusses a hierarchy of logical reform. It presents case studies that illustrate particular aspects of the logical revisionism discussed in the chapter. The first case study is of intuitionistic logic. The second case study turns to quantum logic, a system proposed on empirical grounds as a resolution of the antinomies of quantum mechanics. The third case study is concerned with systems of relevance logic, which have been the subject of an especially detailed reform (...) program. Finally, the fourth case study is paraconsistent logic, perhaps the most controversial of serious proposals. (shrink)
We investigated whether mathematicians typically agree about the qualities of mathematical proofs. Between-mathematician consensus in proof appraisals is an implicit assumption of many arguments made by philosophers of mathematics, but to our knowledge the issue has not previously been empirically investigated. We asked a group of mathematicians to assess a specific proof on four dimensions, using the framework identified by Inglis and Aberdein (2015). We found widespread disagreement between our participants about the aesthetics, intricacy, precision and utility of the proof, (...) suggesting that a priori assumptions about the consistency of mathematical proof appraisals are unreasonable. (shrink)
This paper proposes that virtue theories of argumentation and theories of visual argumentation can be of mutual assistance. An argument that adoption of a virtue approach provides a basis for rejecting the normative independence of visual argumentation is presented and its premisses analysed. This entails an independently valuable clarification of the contrasting normative presuppositions of the various virtue theories of argumentation. A range of different kinds of visual argument are examined, and it is argued that they may all be successfully (...) evaluated within a virtue framework, without invoking any novel virtues. (shrink)
Some authors have begun to appeal directly to studies of argumentation in their analyses of mathematical practice. These include researchers from an impressively diverse range of disciplines: not only philosophy of mathematics and argumentation theory, but also psychology, education, and computer science. This introduction provides some background to their work.
This paper argues that new light may be shed on mathematical reasoning in its non-pathological forms by careful observation of its pathologies. The first section explores the application to mathematics of recent work on fallacy theory, specifically the concept of an ‘argumentation scheme’: a characteristic pattern under which many similar inferential steps may be subsumed. Fallacies may then be understood as argumentation schemes used inappropriately. The next section demonstrates how some specific mathematical fallacies may be characterized in terms of argumentation (...) schemes. The third section considers the phenomenon of correct answers which result from incorrect methods. This turns out to pose some deep questions concerning the nature of mathematical knowledge. In particular, it is argued that a satisfactory epistemology for mathematical practice must address the role of luck. (shrink)
Much work in MKM depends on the application of formal logic to mathematics. However, much mathematical knowledge is informal. Luckily, formal logic only represents one tradition in logic, specifically the modeling of inference in terms of logical form. Many inferences cannot be captured in this manner. The study of such inferences is still within the domain of logic, and is sometimes called informal logic. This paper explores some of the benefits informal logic may have for the management of informal mathematical (...) knowledge. (shrink)
The published works of scientists often conceal the cognitive processes that led to their results. Scholars of mathematical practice must therefore seek out less obvious sources. This article analyzes a widely circulated mathematical joke, comprising a list of spurious proof types. An account is proposed in terms of argumentation schemes: stereotypical patterns of reasoning, which may be accompanied by critical questions itemizing possible lines of defeat. It is argued that humor is associated with risky forms of inference, which are essential (...) to creative mathematics. The components of the joke are explicated by argumentation schemes devised for application to topic-neutral reasoning. These in turn are classified under seven headings: retroduction, citation, intuition, meta-argument, closure, generalization, and definition. Finally, the wider significance of this account for the cognitive science of mathematics is discussed. (shrink)
Imagine a dog tracing a scent to a crossroads, sniffing all but one of the exits, and then proceeding down the last without further examination. According to Sextus Empiricus, Chrysippus argued that the dog effectively employs disjunctive syllogism, concluding that since the quarry left no trace on the other paths, it must have taken the last. The story has been retold many times, with at least four different morals: (1) dogs use logic, so they are as clever as humans; (2) (...) dogs use logic, so using logic is nothing special; (3) dogs reason well enough without logic; (4) dogs reason better for not having logic. This paper traces the history of Chrysippus's dog, from antiquity up to its discussion by relevance logicians in the twentieth century. (shrink)
Bullshit is not the only sort of deceptive talk. Spurious definitions are another important variety of bad reasoning. This paper will describe some of these problematic tactics, and show how Harry Frankfurt’s treatment of bullshit may be extended to analyze their underlying causes. Finally, I will deploy this new account of definition to assess whether Frankfurt’s definition of bullshit is itself legitimate.
A widely circulated list of spurious proof types may help to clarify our understanding of informal mathematical reasoning. An account in terms of argumentation schemes is proposed.
I intend to bring recent work applying virtue theory to the study of argument to bear on a much older problem, that of disagreements that resist rational resolution, sometimes termed "deep disagreements". Just as some virtue epistemologists have lately shifted focus onto epistemic vices, I shall argue that a renewed focus on the vices of argument can help to illuminate deep disagreements. In particular, I address the role of arrogance, both as a factor in the diagnosis of deep disagreements and (...) as an obstacle to their mutually acceptable resolution. Arrogant arguers are likely to make any disagreements to which they are party seem deeper than they really are and arrogance impedes the strategies that we might adopt to resolve deep disagreements. As a case in point, since arrogant or otherwise vicious arguers cannot be trusted not to exploit such strategies for untoward ends, any policy for deep disagreement amelioration must require particularly close attention to the vices of argument, lest they be exploited by the unscrupulous. (shrink)
Douglas Walton’s multitudinous contributions to the study of argumentation seldom, if ever, directly engage with argumentation in mathematics. Nonetheless, several of the innovations with which he is most closely associated lend themselves to improving our understanding of mathematical arguments. I concentrate on two such innovations: dialogue types (§1) and argumentation schemes (§2). I argue that both devices are much more applicable to mathematical reasoning than may be commonly supposed.
Virtue theories have lately enjoyed a modest vogue in the study of argumentation, echoing the success of more far-reaching programmes in ethics and epistemology. Virtue theories of argumentation (VTA) comprise several conceptually distinct projects, including the provision of normative foundations for argument evaluation and a renewed focus on the character of good arguers. Perhaps the boldest of these is the pursuit of the fully satisfying argument, the argument that contributes to human flourishing. This project has an independently developed epistemic analogue: (...) eudaimonistic virtue epistemology. Both projects stress the importance of widening the range of cognitive goals beyond, respectively, cogency and knowledge; both projects emphasize social factors, the right sort of community being indispensable for the cultivation of the intellectual virtues necessary to each project. This paper proposes a unification of the two projects by arguing that the intellectual good life sought by eudaimonistic virtue epistemologists is best realized through the articulation of an account of argumentation that contributes to human flourishing. (shrink)
There has been little overt discussion of the experimental philosophy of logic or mathematics. So it may be tempting to assume that application of the methods of experimental philosophy to these areas is impractical or unavailing. This assumption is undercut by three trends in recent research: a renewed interest in historical antecedents of experimental philosophy in philosophical logic; a “practice turn” in the philosophies of mathematics and logic; and philosophical interest in a substantial body of work in adjacent disciplines, such (...) as the psychology of reasoning and mathematics education. This introduction offers a snapshot of each trend and addresses how they intersect with some of the standard criticisms of experimental philosophy. It also briefly summarizes the specific contribution of the other chapters of this book. (shrink)
In this chapter I argue that intellectual humility is related to argumentation in several distinct but mutually supporting ways. I begin by drawing connections between humility and two topics of long-standing importance to the evaluation of informal arguments: the ad verecundiam fallacy and the principle of charity. I then explore the more explicit role that humility plays in recent work on critical thinking dispositions, deliberative virtues, and virtue theories of argumentation.
Monsters lurk within mathematical as well as literary haunts. I propose to trace some pathways between these two monstrous habitats. I start from Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s influential account of monster culture and explore how well mathematical monsters fit each of his seven theses. The mathematical monsters I discuss are drawn primarily from three distinct but overlapping domains. Firstly, late nineteenth-century mathematicians made numerous unsettling discoveries that threatened their understanding of their own discipline and challenged their intuitions. The great French mathematician (...) Henri Poincaré characterised these anomalies as ‘monsters’, a name that stuck. Secondly, the twentieth-century philosopher Imre Lakatos composed a seminal work on the nature of mathematical proof, in which monsters play a conspicuous role. Lakatos coined such terms as ‘monster-barring’ and ‘monster-adjusting’ to describe strategies for dealing with entities whose properties seem to falsify a conjecture. Thirdly, and most recently, mathematicians dubbed the largest of the sporadic groups ‘the Monster’, because of its vast size and uncanny properties, and because its existence was suspected long before it could be confirmed. (shrink)
In their account of theory change in logic, Aberdein and Read distinguish 'glorious' from 'inglorious' revolutions--only the former preserves all 'the key components of a theory' [1]. A widespread view, expressed in these terms, is that empirical science characteristically exhibits inglorious revolutions but that revolutions in mathematics are at most glorious [2]. Here are three possible responses: 0. Accept that empirical science and mathematics are methodologically discontinuous; 1. Argue that mathematics can exhibit inglorious revolutions; 2. Deny that inglorious revolutions are (...) characteristic of science. Where Aberdein and Read take option 1, option 2 is preferred by Mizrahi [3]. This paper seeks to resolve this disagreement through consideration of some putative mathematical revolutions. [1] Andrew Aberdein and Stephen Read, The philosophy of alternative logics, The Development of Modern Logic (Leila Haaparanta, ed.), Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2009, pp. 613-723. [2] Donald Gillies (ed.), Revolutions in Mathematics, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1992. [3] Moti Mizrahi, Kuhn's incommensurability thesis: What's the argument?, Social Epistemology 29 (2015), no. 4, 361-378. (shrink)
This paper explores some surprising historical connections between philosophy and pornography (including pornography written by or about philosophers, and works that are both philosophical and pornographic). Examples discussed include Diderot's Les Bijoux Indiscrets, Argens's Therésè Philosophe, Aretino's Ragionamenti, Andeli's Lai d'Aristote, and the Gor novels of John Norman. It observes that these works frequently dramatize a tension between reason and emotion, and argues that their existence poses a problem for philosophical arguments against pornography.
Until recently, discussion of virtues in the philosophy of mathematics has been fleeting and fragmentary at best. But in the last few years this has begun to change. As virtue theory has grown ever more influential, not just in ethics where virtues may seem most at home, but particularly in epistemology and the philosophy of science, some philosophers have sought to push virtues out into unexpected areas, including mathematics and its philosophy. But there are some mathematicians already there, ready to (...) meet them, who have explicitly invoked virtues in discussing what is necessary for a mathematician to succeed. In both ethics and epistemology, virtue theory tends to emphasize character virtues, the acquired excellences of people. But people are not the only sort of thing whose excellences may be identified as virtues. Theoretical virtues have attracted attention in the philosophy of science as components of an account of theory choice. Within the philosophy of mathematics, and mathematics itself, attention to virtues has emerged from a variety of disparate sources. Theoretical virtues have been put forward both to analyse the practice of proof and to justify axioms; intellectual virtues have found multiple applications in the epistemology of mathematics; and ethical virtues have been offered as a basis for understanding the social utility of mathematical practice. Indeed, some authors have advocated virtue epistemology as the correct epistemology for mathematics (and perhaps even as the basis for progress in the metaphysics of mathematics). This topical collection brings together several of the researchers who have begun to study mathematical practices from a virtue perspective with the intention of consolidating and encouraging this trend. (shrink)
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