, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 85–119 | Cite as

Applying Recent Argumentation Methods to Some Ancient Examples of Plausible Reasoning

  • Douglas Walton
  • Christopher W. Tindale
  • Thomas F. Gordon


Plausible (eikotic) reasoning known from ancient Greek (late Academic) skeptical philosophy is shown to be a clear notion that can be analyzed by argumentation methods, and that is important for argumentation studies. It is shown how there is a continuous thread running from the Sophists to the skeptical philosopher Carneades, through remarks of Locke and Bentham on the subject, to recent research in artificial intelligence. Eleven characteristics of plausible reasoning are specified by analyzing key examples of it recognized as important in ancient Greek skeptical philosophy using an artificial intelligence model called the Carneades Argumentation System (CAS). By applying CAS to ancient examples it is shown how plausible reasoning is especially useful for gaining a better understanding of evidential reasoning in law, and argued that it can also be applied to everyday argumentation. Our analysis of the snake and rope example of Carneades is also used to point out some ways CAS needs to be extended if it is to more fully model the views of this ancient philosopher on argumentation.


Defeasible reasoning The Carneades argumentation system The philosopher Carneades Evidential reasoning Eikos Testing a hypothesis Argument from perception Argumentation schemes 



Doug Walton and Tom Gordon would like to acknowledge support from our Social Sciences and Humanities Insight Grant. All three of us would like thank the Centre for Research in Reasoning, Argumentation and Rhetoric for support of our work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas Walton
    • 1
  • Christopher W. Tindale
    • 2
  • Thomas F. Gordon
    • 3
  1. 1.Centre for Research in Reasoning, Argumentation and Rhetoric (CRRAR)University of WindsorWindsorCanada
  2. 2.Centre for Research in Reasoning, Argumentation and Rhetoric (CRRAR)University of WindsorWindsorCanada
  3. 3.Fraunhofer FOKUSBerlinGermany

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