Justification of Argumentation Schemes

Douglas Walton


Argumentation schemes are forms of argument that capture stereotypical patterns of human reasoning, especially defeasible ones like argument from expert opinion, that have proved troublesome to view deductively or inductively. Much practical work has already been done on argumentation schemes, proving their worth in A1 [19], but more precise investigations are needed to formalize their structures. The problem
posed in this paper is what form justification of a given scheme, as having a certain precise structure of inference, should take. It is argued that defeasible argumentation schemes require both a systematic and a pragmatic justification, of a kind that can only be provided by the case study method of collecting key examples of arguments of the types traditionally classified as fallacies, and subjecting them to comparative examination and analysis. By this method, postulated structures for schemes can be formulated as hypotheses to solve three kinds of problems: (1) how to classify such arguments into different types, (2) how to identify their premises and conclusions, and (3) how to formulate the critical questions used to evaluate each type of argument.

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