Date: 02 Nov 2011

Informal Logic and Informal Consequence

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Abstract

What is informal logic, is it “logic” at all? Main contemporary approaches are briefly presented and critically commented. If the notion of consequence is at the heart of logic, does it make sense to speak about “informal” consequence? A valid inference is truth preserving, if the premises are true, so is the conclusion. According to Prawitz two further conditions must also be satisfied in the case of classical logical consequence: (i) it is because of the logical form of the sentences involved and not because of their specific content that the inference is truth preserving; (ii) it is necessary that if the premises are true, then so is the conclusion. According to the prevalent criteria of informal logic an argument is cogent if and only if (i) its premises are rationally Acceptable, (ii) its premises are Relevant to its conclusion and (iii) its premises constitute Grounds adequate for accepting the conclusion (the “ARG” conditions according to Govier). The ARG criteria characterize a certain broad kind of consequence relation. We do not (in general) have truth preservence in cogent arguments but if the premises are acceptable and other criteria are met, then so is the conclusion. We can speak about form in a loose sense and finally, there is rational necessity of the grounding or support relation. So a certain broad notion of logical consequence emerges from this comparison. The norms of ARG are norms of elementary scientific methodology in which argument is seen as embodying reasoning within a process of inquiry or of belief formation in subject areas accessible to every informed intellectual.