, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 187–220 | Cite as

Modeling Corroborative Evidence: Inference to the Best Explanation as Counter–Rebuttal



Corroborative evidence has a dual function in argument. Primarily, it functions to provide direct evidence supporting the main conclusion. But it also has a secondary, bolstering function which increases the probative value of some other piece of evidence in the argument. This paper argues that the bolstering effect of corroborative evidence is legitimate, and can be explained as counter–rebuttal achieved through inference to the best explanation. A model (argument diagram) of corroborative evidence, representing its structure and operation as a schematic pattern of defeasible argument is also supplied. In addition to explaining the operation and theoretical foundation of corroborative evidence, the model facilitates the correct analysis and guides the evaluation (assessment and critique) of corroborative evidence as it occurs in argument.


Argument strengthening Corroboration Corroborative evidence Corroborating evidence Counter–rebuttal Inference to the best explanation 



I thank John Jackson and Jean Wagemans for their instructive comments on the presented version of the paper, as well as Douglas Walton and David Hitchcock for their constructive correspondence on earlier and revised versions of the paper. Also, thanks are due to Dale Miller for his perceptive and instructive comments on other work that has informed this paper. Most importantly, the account proposed in the paper has been significantly and objectively improved by incorporating the suggestions and responding to the comments made by Argumentation’s anonymous reviewers, to whom I offer my sincere thanks.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Religious StudiesOld Dominion UniversityNorfolkUSA

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