Argumentation Schemes for Presumptive Reasoning

By Douglas N. Walton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
THE ARGUMENTATION SCHEMES

In this chapter, 25 different argumentation schemes are described and analyzed. For each argumentation scheme, a matching set of critical questions is given. This pairing brings out the essentially presumptive nature of the kind of reasoning involved in the use of argumentation schemes, and at the same time reveals the pragmatic and dialectical nature of how this reasoning works. The function of each argumentation scheme is to shift a weight of presumption from one side of a dialogue to the other. The opposing arguer in the dialogue can shift this weight of presumption back to the other side again by asking any of the appropriate critical questions matching that argumentation scheme. To once again get the presumption on his or her side, the original arguer (who used the argumentation scheme in the first place) must give a satisfactory answer to that critical question.

Some of the argumentation schemes are basic or fundamental, whereas others are composites made up from these basic schemes. Where this is so, one way or the other, it has been noted in the account of the argumentation scheme given. However, no attempt has been made to classify the schemes, beyond the typology already constructed by Kienpointner ( 1992). Some classifications are obvious. For example, there are causal, verbal, and gradualistic schemes. However, there is no reason to think that this set of schemes is complete, or that our analysis of their structure is adequate in every respect. Therefore, the temptation to venture a new system of classification, or one different from that of Kienpointner ( 1992), has been resisted at this point.

Another thing these argumentation schemes have in common is that they involve the application of generalizations of an abstract sort, to a particular situation, exemplified by the particular case at issue. The generalization acts as a warrant, or as Kienpointner ( 1992) called it, a Schlussregel, to support the premise that cites the particulars of the case. Thus, these schemes involve presumptive reasoning, because the match between a generalization and a particular case is never perfect, or completely certain and absolute. To the extent that they are species of case-based reasoning,1 these schemes embody argumentation that is defeasible, or open to retraction (default, defeat) in exceptional cases that may come to be known in the future.

Perhaps the main, arguable exception here is argument from evidence to a hypothesis, which seems to be an inductive or probabilistic, as opposed to a presumptive or plausibilistic kind of argumentation. However, it is a little early to tell. Perhaps even this type of argumentation has its presumptive aspects. And, at any rate, we include it here because it has been so often misunderstood and

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1
See Simpson ( 1985).

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Argumentation Schemes for Presumptive Reasoning
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Lea Titles in Argumentation ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Table of Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Chapter One - Introduction 1
  • Chapter Two - Presumptive Reasoning 17
  • Chapter Three - the Argumentation Schemes 46
  • Chapter Four - Argument from Ignorance 111
  • Concluding Remarks 131
  • Chapter Five - Ignoring Qualifications 133
  • Chapter Six - Argument from Consequences 168
  • Author Index 212
  • Subject Index 214
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