Rules for Reasoning from Knowledge and Lack of Knowledge
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- Walton, D. Philosophia (2006) 34: 355. doi:10.1007/s11406-006-9028-6
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In this paper, the traditional view that argumentum ad ignorantiam is a logical fallacy is challenged, and lessons are drawn on how to model inferences drawn from knowledge in combination with ones drawn from lack of knowledge. Five defeasible rules for evaluating knowledge-based arguments that apply to inferences drawn under conditions of lack of knowledge are formulated. They are the veridicality rule, the consistency of knowledge rule, the closure of knowledge rule, the rule of refutation and the rule for argument from ignorance. The basic thesis of the paper is that knowledge-based arguments, including the argument from ignorance, need to be evaluated by criteria for epistemic closure and other evidential rules that are pragmatic in nature, that need to be formulated and applied differently at different stages of an investigation or discussion. The paper helps us to understand practical criteria that should be used to evaluate all arguments based on knowledge and/or ignorance.