Skip to main content

Refutation by Parallel Argument


This paper discusses the method when an argument is refuted by a parallel argument since the flaw of the parallel argument is clearly displayed. The method is explicated, examined and compared with two other general methods.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1.

    See Facione (1976) for more about this.

  2. 2.

    See Juthe (2005).

  3. 3.

    Whaley (1998) discusses this more extensively.

  4. 4.

    Damer (2001, pp. 46–47).

  5. 5.

    Damer (2001, p. 46).

  6. 6.

    Facione (1976).

  7. 7.

    Schlesinger (1984, p. 151).

  8. 8.

    Castaneda (1984, p. 248).

  9. 9.

    Damer (2001, p. 47).

  10. 10.

    Woods and Hudak (1989), Govier (1985, 1989), Hitchcock (1992), Copi and Burgess-Jackson (1992), Copi (1990), Whaley (1998), Guarini (2004), Waller (2001), Hugon (2008).

  11. 11.

    Krabbe (1996, p. 137).

  12. 12.

    See Blair (1992) for a discussion about these criteria.

  13. 13.

    Ibid., p. 203.

  14. 14.

    Juthe (2005).

  15. 15.

    For more discussion about different types of argument by analogy, see Juthe (2005).

  16. 16.

    For more discussion about different types of argument by analogy, see Juthe (2005).

  17. 17.

    This means that the Assigned-Predicate refers to one of the element that constitutes the Analogue. The notation then is on two levels; the logical grammar and the metaphysical one. On the level of logical grammar it is the ‘Assigned-Predicate’ that is the employed term. On the metaphysical level it is an ‘element’ that means a property or relation or a substance or any relevant truthmaker. As the reader can see I do not strictly talk only on the level of logical grammar since I use the terminology of elements also in the structure of arguments. This is because of convenience; the terms are already known and need not be further explicated. When it for instance is written “the elements that determine the Assigned-Predicate.” what is actually meant is: “the elements that determined the element denoted by the Assigned-Predicate.” It is only to avoid complicated sentences that I tend to use the former description.

  18. 18.

    ‘Valid’ means here that the premises give conclusive support to the conclusion.

  19. 19.

    This is more extensively discussed in Juthe (2005).

  20. 20.

    For a discussion about the relations of determination in analogical reasoning see Davies (1988).

  21. 21.

    See Juthe (2005) for more about this.

  22. 22.

    Govier (1985, p. 29) points this out.

  23. 23.

    Wilson (1988).

  24. 24.

    This is taken from Wilson's article p. 121 and it is thus his reconstruction of Gensler’s argument.

  25. 25.

    Fieser (2006).

  26. 26.

    Sider (2008).

  27. 27.

    This argument structures assume of course that the Analogue and the Target-Subject are arguments and the universal premise: “if two arguments are parallel/analogous and have contrary or contradictory conclusions then they are either invalid or both have at both least one untrue premise”.

  28. 28.

    Huemer (1998, § 5.1).

  29. 29.

    Thompson (1971, p. 55).

  30. 30.

    Juthe Defense Against Arguments by Analogy, forthcoming.

  31. 31.

    Govier (1985).

  32. 32.

    Blair and Johnson (1987).

  33. 33.

    Walton (1996, p. 49).

  34. 34.

    The method of exhibiting the flawed argument scheme can also work by showing that either the sufficiency or relevance condition does not hold.

  35. 35.

    For documentation of argumentation schemes for presumptive reasoning, see Walton (1996).

  36. 36.

    Govier (1985, pp. 27, 29).

  37. 37.

    Copi and Burgess-Jackson (1992, p. 209).

  38. 38.

    Mackie (1983, p. 111).

  39. 39.

    Mackie (1983, pp. 111–112).

  40. 40.

    Ibid., pp. 111, 113.

  41. 41.

    It is possible that what “we must not do” (allow the army to be wiped out, withdraw) will nevertheless happen.

  42. 42.

    See Mackies own discussion about this, Mackie (1983, pp. 112–114).

  43. 43.

    See for example: Theron (1997), Smith (1986, pp. 173–194; 1988, pp. 124-176), McGee (1985).

  44. 44.

    Waller (2001).

  45. 45.

    See Juthe (2005).

  46. 46.

    Juthe (2005).

  47. 47.

    For more objections against Waller’s position, see Guarini (2004).

  48. 48.

    Waller (2001, p. 210).

  49. 49.

    Juthe (2005, p. 5).

  50. 50.

    Barker (1989, see especially pp. 178–181).

  51. 51.

    Barker (1989), see also Cohen (1986, pp. 82–91).

  52. 52.

    Barker (1989) points this out see p. 181.

  53. 53.

    Barker (1989), see also Cohen (1986, pp. 82–91).

  54. 54.

    Facione (1976)

  55. 55.

    See Juthe (2005) and Govier (1989) for more about that.

  56. 56.

    Cohen (1986). pp. 84–85, see pp. 82–91 for more about the difference between singular and general principles. In my opinion Cohen’s discussion is misguided, it is not a matter of singular intuitions versus general intuitions, but about concrete examples versus abstract principles. Cohen’s argument depends not on generality versus singularity. Rather it concerns the concrete versus the abstract. If the general principles were as concrete as the particular cases then they would be as intuitively strong as the latter.

  57. 57.

    See Kilhbom (2002) for a discussion about ethical particularism.

  58. 58.

    Brown (1995) mentions this.

  59. 59.

    Whaley (1998).

  60. 60.

    Whaley (1998, see Appendix p. 360).

  61. 61.

    From the local newspaper UNT 2006-06-29 (,1786,MC=25-AV_ID=510833,00.html?from=sectionlinks25) (My translation).

  62. 62.

    Guarini (2004). Marcello Guarini discusses different ways of using the construction of parallel arguments in a recent article that may be of interest for the reader of this article.

  63. 63.

    Walton and Krabbe (1995), Walton (1992), see also: Walton (1988, pp. 239–241; 1993, 1996, pp. 145–146; 1989, pp. 47–49). The version here is my own modified version of what a reasoned dialogue is.

  64. 64.

    See Walton (1992) for more types of dialogues and a discussion about them.

  65. 65.

    Walton (1988, p. 239).

  66. 66.

    Waller (2001, p. 201).

  67. 67.

    The principle is taken from: Levvis (1991, 1992). There is a slight modification; the formulation “relevantly similar” could be interpreted either as including or excluding the possibility of being relevantly different in some aspect at the same time. Levvis use means that two object cannot be relevantly similar if there is any relevant difference between them. In order to avoid confusion I have modified the formulation as to make it more exact.

  68. 68.

    Some qualifications may be needed if one wants the principle to reflect the distinction between same-domains-analogies and different-domains-analogies. If it would concern a different-domain-analogy the principle would state that: If x and y are analogous then the corresponding moral, epistemic, rational or aesthetic etc. judgement apply to x as to y and vice versa.

  69. 69.

    For example, one definition could be “non-intentionally bringing about a persons death by withholding treatment that could prolong the person’s life with the intention of shorten a patients suffering which makes life not worth living”. Another definition might be: “withholding aggressive treatment that would serve no useful purpose in the situation and might in fact be harmful.” It is only if the proponent and opponent agree on the first definition that the argument would work, otherwise would not the proponent accept the analogy between active and passive euthanasia.

  70. 70.

    It is assumed that only one of two opposing sides could have the burden of proof. See Cargile (1997) for more on this, especially p. 59.

  71. 71.

    The acceptance of the minimal law of non-contradiction “not every statement is true” is however, more basic than the principle of relevant similarity, since it is necessary in order to even understand the principle of relevant similarity. What is further notable is that the principle of relevant similarity cannot be given a counterexample. Levvis (1991, 1992) argues that the principle of relevant similarity is impossible to counterexample because it is a biconditional. This claim presupposes value realism and could not be used against non-cognitivists. However, if we discuss the principle in the context of reasoning in general, cognitivism seems to be a basic presupposition and any objection to that would be self-refuting.

  72. 72.

    The anonymous reviewers are thanked for their comments on this paper.


  1. Barker, S.F. 1989. Analogy in Hume’s DIALOGUES. Informal Logic XI(3): 173–184.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Blair, J.A. 1992. Premissary relevance. Argumentation 6(2): 203–217.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Blair, J.A., and R.H. Johnson. 1987. Argumentation as dialectical. Argumentation 1(1): 41–456.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Brown, W.R. 1995. The domain constraint on analogy and analogical argument. Informal Logic 17(1): 89–100.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Cargile, J. 1997. On the burden of proof. Philosophy 72: 59–83.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Castaneda, H.-N. 1984. Philosophical refutations. In Principles of philosophical reasoning, ed. J.H. Fetzer. New Jersey: Rowman & Allanheld.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Cohen, J.L. 1986. The dialogue of reason—an analysis of analytical philosophy. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Copi, I.M. 1990. Introduction to logic, 8th ed. New York: Macmillian Publishing Company.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Copi, I., and K. Burgess-Jackson. 1992. Informal logic, 2nd ed. New York: Macmillian Publishing Company.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Damer, E.T. 2001. Attacking faulty reasoning—a practical guide to fallacy-free arguments. Wadsworth: Thomson Learning.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Davies, T.R. 1988. Determination, uniformity, and relevance: Normative criteria for generalization and reasoning by analogy. In Analogical reasoning—perspectives of artificial intelligence, cognitive science, and philosophy, ed. D.H. Helman, 227–259. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Facione, P. 1976. Counterexamples and where they lead. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 36: 523–530.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Fieser, James. 2006. The probability argument for the existence of God and Alien Pyramid Builders. (published 9/14/2006, viewed 080519).

  14. Govier, T. 1985. Logical analogies. Informal Logic VII(1): 26–33.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Govier, T. 1989. Analogies and missing premises. Informal Logic 11(3): 141–152.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Guarini, M. 2004. A defence of non-deductive reconstructions of analogical arguments. Informal Logic 24(2): 153–168.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Hitchcock, D. 1992. Reasoning by analogy: A general theory. In The generalizability of critical thinking: Multiple perspectives of an educational ideal, ed. S.P. Norris. New York: Teachers College press.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Huemer, Michael. 1998. A direct realist account of perceptual awareness. New Brunswick, New Jersey: State University of New Jersey.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Hugon, P. 2008. Arguments by Parallels in the Epistemological Works of Phya pa Chos kyi seng ge. Argumentation 22: 93–114.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Juthe, A. 2005. Arguments by analogy. Argumentation 19: 1–27.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Kilhbom, U. 2002. Ethical particularism, an essay on moral reasons. Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, Stockholm Studies in Philosophy 23, Almqvist & Wiksell International Stockholm.

  22. Krabbe, Erik. 1996. Can we ever pin one down to a formal fallacy? In Logic and argumentation, ed. Johan van Benthem, Frans H. van Eemeren, Rob Grootendorst, and Frank Veltman, 129–141. North-Holland, Amsterdam, etc. (Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, Verhandelingen, Afd. Letterkunde, Nieuwe Reeks, deel 170).

  23. Levvis, G.W. 1991. The principle of relevant similarity. Journal of Value Inquiry 25: 81–87.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Levvis, M.A. 1992. The roots of relevant similarity. Journal of Value Inquiry 26: 289–291.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Mackie, J.L. 1983. The miracle of theism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  26. McGee, V. 1985. A counterexample to Modus Ponens. The Journal of Philosophy 82(9): 462–471.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Schlesinger, G. 1984. The method of counterexample. In Principles of philosophical reasoning, ed. J.H. Fetzer. New Jersey: Rowman & Allanheld.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Sider, Ted. 2008. Metaphysics. (viewed 080519).

  29. Smith, J.W. 1986. Reason, science and paradox. New Hampshire: Croom Helm Ltd., Provident House.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Smith, J.W. 1988. Essays on ultimate questions: Critical discussions of the limits of contemporary philosophical inquiry (Avebury Series in Philosophy).

  31. Theron, S. 1997. Argument forms and argument from analogy. Acta Philosophica 6(2): 303–326.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Thomson, J.J. 1971. A defense of abortion. Philosophy and Public Affairs 1: 47–66.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Waller, B.N. 2001. Classifying and analyzing analogies. Informal Logic 21(3): 199–218.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Walton, D.N. 1988. Burden of proof. Argumentation 2: 233–254.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Walton, D.N. 1989. Informal logic—a handbook for critical argumentation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Walton, D.N. 1992. Types of dialogue, dialectical shifts and fallacies. In Argumentation illuminated, ed. F.H. van Eemeren, R. Grootendorst, J.A. Blair, and C.A. Willard, 133–147. Amsterdam: SICSAT.

  37. Walton, D. 1993. Commitment, types of dialogue, and fallacies. Informal Logic XIV(2&3): 93–103.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Walton, D.N. 1996a. Argumentation schemes for presumptive reasoning. New Jersey, Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Walton, D. 1996b. Arguments from ignorance. Pennsylvania State: University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Walton, D.N., and E.C.W. Krabbe. 1995. Commitment in dialogue—basic concepts of interpersonal reasoning. New York: State University of New York Press.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Whaley, B. 1998. Evaluations of rebuttal analogy users: Ethical and competence considerations. Argumentation 12: 351–365.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Wilson, Bryan. 1988. On a Kantian argument against abortion. Philosophical Studies 53(1): 119–130.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Woods, J., and B. Hudak. 1989. By parity of reasoning. Informal Logic XI(3): 125–139.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to André Juthe.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Juthe, A. Refutation by Parallel Argument. Argumentation 23, 133 (2009).

Download citation


  • Parallel argument
  • Method of counterexample
  • Analogy
  • One-to-one correspondence
  • Counterpart
  • Argument structure
  • Inconsequence
  • Target-argument
  • Parallel-argument