A Bayesian approach to informal argument fallacies

Scientia Salon

Thomas_BayesThis paper, which appeared in the journal Synthese in 2006, touches on a sacred cow of internet discourse, especially within atheist and skeptical communities: the idea of informal logical fallacies. I have a paper on the same topic currently in press, together with my co-authors Maarten Boudry and Fabio Paglieri, so we will return to the issue once our paper will be out (Maarten is writing a precis for Scientia Salon, and you’ll see that we advocate an even more radical approach to informal fallacies than the present authors). Meanwhile, below is a taste of what Ulrike Hahn and Mike Oaksford wrote. You can find the full paper here (free).

We examine in detail three classic reasoning fallacies, that is, sup- posedly “incorrect” forms of argument. These are the so-called argumentam ad ignorantiam, the circular argument or petitio principii, and the slippery slope argu- ment. In each case, the argument type is shown to…

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