, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 61-94

First online:

Rejecting the Urge to Theorise in Fallacy Inquiry

  • Louise CummingsAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, University of Ulster at Coleraine

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In this paper, I examine the incessant call to theory that is evident in fallacy inquiry. I relate the motivations for this call to a desire to attain for fallacy inquiry certain attributes of the theoretical process in scientific inquiry. I argue that these same attributes, when pursued in the context of philosophical inquiry in general and fallacy inquiry in particular, lead to the assumption of a metaphysical standpoint. This standpoint, I contend, is generative of unintelligibility in philosophical discussions of rationality. I claim that this same unintelligibility can be shown to characterise fallacy inquiry, an example of the study of argumentative rationality. The context for my claim is an examination of the theoretical pronouncements of two prominent fallacy theorists, John Woods and Douglas Walton, in relation to the argument from ignorance fallacy. My conclusion takes the form of guidelines for the post-theoretical pursuit of fallacy inquiry.

argument from ignorance John Woods and Douglas Walton metaphysical standpoint monolectical/dialectical reasoning Nicholas Rescher rationality theorising unintelligibility