Appeal to Expert Opinion: Arguments from Authority

By Douglas Walton | Go to book overview

8
EXPLAINING THE FALLACY

We now have explored a good basis for evaluating arguments from authority as strong or weak: the argumentation scheme and the matching set of critical questions. But is there more to it than this? I have argued that solving the problem of what makes an ad verecundiam argument fallacious needs to go beyond this point and involves a forced or premature closure of the interactive dialogue between the two primary participants in an argument.

But going beyond this point raises a very controversial, yet general question that we cannot entirely resolve here, namely, What is a fallacy? ( Walton 1987). The textbook treatments of the ad verecundiam fallacy often treat cases where there has been an overlooking of or failure to address critical questions as instances of the ad verecundiam fallacy. But in this chapter, I argue that such cases are not necessarily fallacious arguments, and that the fallaciousness of such an argument resides in how it is presented in a given case--a matter of the interactive factors in the context of dialogue, as outlined in Chapter 5.

According to the explanation of the ad verecundiam fallacy given in this chapter, fallacious cases occur where what is basically a presumptive and defeasible type of argument is presented in an absolutistic and final manner in a dialogue.

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Appeal to Expert Opinion: Arguments from Authority
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xiii
  • 1 - THE PROBLEM OF AUTHORITY 1
  • 2 - HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 32
  • 4 - FORM OF THE ARGUMENT 91
  • 5 - DIALECTICAL ASPECTS 126
  • 6 - EXPERT TESTIMONY AS LEGAL EVIDENCE 167
  • 8 - EXPLAINING THE FALLACY 230
  • Index 273
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