, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 385–402 | Cite as

Being unreasonable: Perelman and the problem of fallacies

  • James Crosswhite


Most work on fallacies continues to conceptualize fallacious reasoning as involving a breach of a formal or quasi-formal rule. Chaim Perelman's theory of argumentation provides a way to conceptualize fallacies in a completely different way. His approach depends on an understanding of standards of rationality as essentially connected with conceptions of universality. Such an approach allows one to get beyond some of the basic problems of fallacy theory, and turns informal logic toward substantive philosophical questions. I show this by reinterpreting three so-called fallacies - theargumentum ad baculum, equivocation and composition/division - in the light of Perelman's account.

Key words

Fallacies universality rationality Perelman rhetoric philosophy ad baculum equivocation composition and division 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Crosswhite
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishCollege of Arts and Sciences University of OregonEugeneUSA

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