Arguments from Ignorance

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Pennsylvania State University Press, Jan 1, 1996 - Philosophy - 313 pages
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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 and 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.

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Contents

The Treatment in Logic
24
Uses Outside Logic
64
Case Studies
97
Copyright

6 other sections not shown

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About the author (1996)

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).

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