Dec 27, 2009
Dec 26, 2009
1. A not very subtle straw man charge:
Obama says his opponents wrongly insist that we choose between “paying down our deficits” and “investing in job creation and economic growth.” But that is not the way his real critics, as opposed to the imaginary, nameless ones who appear in his speeches, would frame the issue.
2. An interesting interpretation of the negation of a disjunction:
Speaking of making sense, some of the “false choices” Obama has identified in the last year are more puzzling than misleading. “I reject the false choice between securing this nation and wasting billions of taxpayer dollars,” he declared in March. So according to Obama, we can secure the nation and waste billions of taxpayer dollars. Actually, that sounds about right.
The ambiguity in "I reject the false choice" was a helping hand for this charge. One could construe it as "I reject it because is false", therefore I reject the falsity; yet another interpretation (the one Mr. Sollum called out) is "I reject the disjunction", therefore there are other - maybe contradictory - options.
Here's what Obama actually meant (said):
But I reject the false choice between securing this nation and wasting billions of taxpayer dollars. And in this time of great challenges, I recognize the real choice between investments that are designed to keep the American people safe and those that are designed to make a defense contractor rich.
Dec 23, 2009
I have played for about 40 minutes and I got this:
14 correct out of 18 (78%) for a score of 2970
Oh, and it's free.
Dec 22, 2009
Dec 21, 2009
Who is afraid of Aristotle?
Author: Charles L. Hamblin
Publisher: Vale Press
Year: 1983 [first edition 1970]
Chapter II: Aristotle’s List
I will try and skip some enormously boring parts by not describing (as usual, and maybe appropriate) Aristotle’s works, “place in time”, his good-humoured nature or heart-killing sorrow caused by Plato choosing his nephew (or something) over him, the copiously wiser one. Wikipedia has pretty much covered the field here. What I intend here is a brief description of Aristotle’s work on fallacies – based on Hamblin’s chapter two –, then an even briefer outline of what Hamblin calls “The Aristotelian Tradition” and finally I will stop on begging the question, a quite interesting fallacy.
Funny thing about Aristotle, he wrote the Sophistical Refutations before Prior Analytics which means that he treated fallacies “before Formal Logic had been invented” (Hamblin, 52). Despite some degree of curiosity, this was not such a big problem because he hadn’t meant the Sophistical Refutations to be a logic-based treatment of fallacies, but, let’s say, a ‘dialectical’ one that would serve citizens in ‘contentious arguments’[a]. Another funny thing about Aristotle is that, well … there is life after fallacies and so he had to write many other books later in time in which the treatment from Sophistical Refutations got severely disorganized. Then of course, after decades of tradition-following, some scholars managed to criticize this ‘inconsistency’ and claimed better endeavours on the subject.
I feel like the elephant is right at the dinner table and he’s staring at me. An obvious remark here (or one of them) is that we are using different terms when mainly referring to the same thing. The distinction between sophisms and fallacies is quite a stingy problem, and if you add terms like elenchs (Hamblin mentions them) or paralogism, it should get worse. Now that we’ve brought out this issue, one could ask – by quoting Leninian who quoted Tolstoy: “What is to be done?” My option here is opting out. I will give you my (or better yet, ‘the general assent I felt when reading here and there’) division of these terms. Sophism is highly connected with Sophistical Refutation and it will be used only when (1) referring the specific treatment in Soph.Ref., (2) referring to some type of intentional error inside (or deliberately misuse of) a dialogue and its rules. A paralogism is to be used henceforth as (1) referring to specific treatment in Prior & Posterior Analytics, (2) referring to some sort of logical – as opposed to dialogical –, not necessarily deliberate error. One should use elench if one has recently celebrated his/her 174th anniversary or better yet had known Aristotle personally. A fallacy, then, is a grand total of those three, reasonable enough for what suits our purposes. Douglas Walton would probably agree with this last remark since he distinguishes sophistical tactics type of fallacy from the error-of-reasoning type Walton, 1996, 245).
The term refutation it’s easier to catch, because its technical (narrow) meaning remains very close to what we understand of it in general. A refutation is a type of ‘reasoning involving the contradictory of the given conclusion’. A sophistical refutation, then, would be some false reasoning (also known as eristic reasoning) involving this thesis: it will be (1) either that the reasoning process is only apparent – while actually injured or not qualified – or (2) that the premises are injured or only apparently probable – while actually not belonging to ‘endoxa’ – common belief – or that (3) while everything sound, the relevance is only apparent.
The thirteen-fold classification of fallacies, which we chiefly discussed in Part I, is then analyzed starting from this distinction. I’m in a hurry to get to petitio principii, so I’m not even going to outline the content of Sophistical Refutations. What ought to be remembered is that subsequent accounts in Prior Analytics and Rhetoric differ in many respects. For example, the normal and noticeable thing to do when passing from dialectic to demonstration (that is, from Topics to Analytics) is to (1) drop the fallacies dependent on language (since we’re dealing with formal – well, perfect – language), (2) drop the fallacies which ‘depended’ on dialogue (many questions and begging the question) and (3) cut down on references to the context of utterances (again, not important in a formal language). Nothing’s fishy here; let’s go directly to the petitio principii.
The general account on begging the question will tell you that this tricky fallacy obtains a tricky validity: there’s nothing (logically) wrong with inferring a proposition from itself – see Hamblin p. 33 and Fallacies part I, which means that in any propositional system we could think of, ‘p therefore p’ is a valid inference[b].
A. In Sophistical Refutations (where, we remember, logic has little to regulate):
[begging the question] is a flat-out violation of the definition of ‘syllogism’ (hence of ‘refutation’). If what is to be proved is also assumed as a premise, then that premise is repeated as the conclusion, and the argument in question fails to be a syllogism, hence cannot be a refutation (Woods, 1999, 212)
Consequently, all Aristotle has to do on this account is to explain how things could not go along in such an argument. There are five ways in which an arguer could beg the question, none of which offers much contentment. The ‘question’ being the ‘thesis at issue’, the first way feels ok in hindsight: in a debate (‘contentious argument’) one begs the question if he argues ‘non-T, therefore non-T’, when non-T is to be proven. Imagine yourself being fooled by such an argument:
A: In my opinion, global warming should not be stopped for it is nature’s own will
B: I beg to differ! Since global warming is something that should be stopped, I believe we must spring into action and stop it.
A: Gees, I don’t know what to say …you think?
The other four ways of question begging are even more suspect. The second tells us that if we infer Some A’s are B’s from the ‘question at issue’ All A’s are B’s, it will be fallacious, since a refutation will not longer be worthy of the name (since this is not a syllogism). For the rest see Woods, 1999, 212-215.
B. If we turn to the Analytics, things change, although they do not gain much complexity. As Hamblin notes later on, “Aristotle […] was inclined to object to any argument that did not fit into the pattern he thought appropriate for the orderly or ‘scientific’ deduction of knowledge from first principles” (246). The concise definition in Prior Analytics sounds awkward, but I will get someone to explain for us. So,
[w]hen someone tries to show through itself what is not known through itself, then he begs the question (Pr. An. II, 16, 64b36–38)
Hamblin explains this by relating to Aristotle’s epistemology (theory of knowledge):
We come to know some things immediately, others mediately by inference. Propositions have a peck-order […] The truly certain things are those known immediately, the others being so much the less certain from having to be arrived at by inference” (76).
Which means that the problem with begging the question, as Aristotle re-defined it, is that it fails to be a demonstration, it fails to prove anything (however validly reasoning while doing so) because it takes not self-evident propositions as self-evident. It is then epistemology who should be interested in such propounded distinction. With this, we get near the general approach in contemporary logic and dialectics. Keynes (quoted by Hamblin and quoted by us in Part I) was the first to set apart fallacies of proof and fallacies of inference.
C. Contemporary views on fallacies are not seriously different from the traditional ones, although by reorganizing some essential aspects they carry more clarity and coherence. I will treat them briskly here for we will return to them in our next texts. Charles Hamblin (1970) begins by re-defining the concept of ‘argument’ by means of ‘alethic’, ‘dialectic’ and ‘epistemic’ criteria. He then notices that the fallacy of begging the question, besides being an interesting problem for epistemology and as long as it is viewed as an argument, has its major bugs with criterion nr. 5:
The conclusion must be such that, in the absence of the argument, it would not be accepted/in doubt. (Hamblin, 238-245)
Douglas Walton also establishes that, from the very beginning, the fallacy of begging the question has a valid form of argument. All the more, circular reasoning – viewed dialectically as a sequence of questions and replies – begs the question (again) not by an infringement of any particular argumentation scheme. The defectuous mechanism of the fallacy can only be pinned down accordingly:
The fallacy comes in when you put the chain of argumentation schemes, as used in case 21, together in a sequence of connected dialogue. The resulting circle, shown if figure 7, when the schemes are joined together in an argumentation theme, indicates the fallacy.
Q: Can you give me a credit reference? A: My friend Jones will vouch for me
Q: How do we know he (Jones) can be trusted? A: I assure you he can
Q: Yes, but how do we know you can be trusted? A: My friend Jones will vouch for me
fig.7 (Walton, 1996, 206)
The pragma-dialectical approach has its specific sayings in this. Out of the 10 rules for a flawless critical discussion, they connected begging the question with Rule #6, the one which gives account for ‘fallacies of utilizing starting points’ [sic! not standpoints]. A party may not falsely present a premise as an accepted starting point nor deny a premise representing a starting point. As we briefly noted in this review, fallacies in the pragma-dialectics are seen as violations of discussion rules, as ways of blocking the means of resolving a difference of opinion. The fallacy of begging the question is therefore:
[…] a special case of wrongly assuming that a proposition is one of the common starting points […]. Because he then knows that the proposition concerned is the very point at issue in the dispute, he also knows that it cannot be one of the common starting points. (Eemeren, Grootendorst, 1992, 153)
This is Aristotle and this is the fallacy of begging the question. In the next posts on fallacies we will depart from Hamblin’s chapter 7 (‘The concept of Argument’) and try to look at the contemporary ways of explaining/identifying/classifying fallacies.
[a] One should remember that here ‘argument’ is used in a ‘quarrel, dispute’ sense. These ‘contentious arguments’ were some sort of disputes organized between men in ancient Greek. The point of such an argument was to (pragmadialectically …) resolve a difference of opinion
[b] In the sense that, if the premise is true, the conclusion must also be true, see Walton 1996, 50
Dec 20, 2009
Antoine Compagnon (n. 1950) is a Belgian professor of French literature and history of French literature. I translated below one of his paragraph from a book on the history of sophistical movements[*]. I found it strangely contiguous with one of our videos from last week. You should see the video first, if you are not familiar with its topic.
“ The condemning of rhetoric is, above all, a political process: one should remember Seignobos associating rhetoric with the Old Regime. The rhetorical education system, the rhetorical culture is selective, elitist which basically means antidemocratic and unequal. And is not just the (old) problem of institutional privileges of those with degrees, the problem of abandoning the mediocre, but more essentially that the whole purpose of rhetoric is the taste for discourse. This type of educational system cannot but bring forth novelists and advocates and journalists, and thereby continuously regenerate a class of discourse makers; in other words, the high bourgeoisie. The teaching of rhetoric is deemed to be abandoned in democracy: it was a high-class education designed for the good people.
The teaching of history, however, is by itself modern, it addresses to all, it makes a class of producers. History is democratic and thus a paragon to comply with in the teaching of humanities. “Literary education, eloquently says Lanson, is excellent for making – not without many failures – a handful of superior individuals who will move the world with their original and selfish fantasies; scientific education, however, can alone kill all the childhood of a nation by giving it precision, method and discipline”.
Taste and individual is being confronted by truth and solidarity. ”
Dec 19, 2009
“If you have trouble choosing between imply and infer, you’re not alone. Many writers switch them even though they have distinct meanings.
To imply is to suggest or express indirectly. To infer is to draw a conclusion. However, you’ll frequently see something like this:
The news story inferred that the defendant was guilty.
Even though some dictionaries support infer as a synonym for imply, the distinction is important. Without it, the meaning of the above example is unclear. Did the news story draw the conclusion that the defendant was guilty? Or did it simply suggest it? You really can’t tell for certain, can you?
When you’re striving for clarity in writing, it’s critical to use the right words. In the case of imply and infer, it helps to remember that the speaker implies and the listener infers.”
And a comment from Cecily: “If you see a man staggering along the road you may infer that he is drunk, without saying a word; but if you say ‘Had one too many?’ you do not infer, but imply, that he is drunk.” (A P Herbert)
Dec 18, 2009
Dec 17, 2009
1. Godwin’s Law
The most famous of all the internet laws, formed by Mike Godwin in 1990. As originally stated, it said: "As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1." It has now been expanded to include all web discussions.
It is closely related to the logical fallacy “reductio ad Hitlerum”, which says “Hitler (or the Nazis) liked X, so X is bad”, frequently used to denigrate vegetarians and atheists.
Common Godwin's Law appearances include describing women's rights campaigners as “feminazis”, comparing the former US President George W Bush to Hitler, or saying Barack Obama's proposed healthcare reforms are the new Holocaust.
In its broader sense it can be used to describe any situation where a poster loses all sense of proportion, for example describing New Labour as “Zanu-Labour” after Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwean political party Zanu-PF.
As well as the descriptive form, it can be used prescriptively: so if any poster does mention the Nazis in a discussion thread, Godwin’s Law can be invoked, they instantly lose the argument and the thread can be ended.
If this is done deliberately to end the argument, however, it does not apply. This codicil is known as “Quirk’s Exception”.
4. Skitt’s Law
Expressed as "any post correcting an error in another post will contain at least one error itself" or "the likelihood of an error in a post is directly proportional to the embarrassment it will cause the poster."
It is an online version of the proofreading truism Muphry’s Law, also known as Hartman's Law of Prescriptivist Retaliation: "any article or statement about correct grammar, punctuation, or spelling is bound to contain at least one eror".
"For too long, we linguistic pedants have cringed, watching this phrase used, misused, and abused, again, and again, and again. 'This begs the question...' [we hear], and we must brace ourselves as the ignoramii of modern society literally ask a question after the phrase."
While Mr Ordoveza’s point is entirely valid (“begging the question” is a logical fallacy, meaning to "beggar the question", or assume your conclusion in your premise – not to raise the question), the plural of ignoramus is ignoramuses.
It was apparently first stated by G Bryan Lord, referring to a user named Skitt, on Usenet in 1998.
read other rules here: source
[And you thoght when I cited argumentum ad nazium here that it was diddly-squat ]
(Some sort of) Introduction to sophistry
The distinction between truth and truth-seeming is a central ‘theme’ in Greek philosophy and it could be argued that it represents still a major ‘theme’ in Western thought and philosophy. The subject matter survived up to modern times at least in that it has been regulating the (analytical) processes of what we now know as ‘science’. We know we have a ‘problem’ (that is, a ‘real problem’, let’s call it an ‘analytical puzzle’) when truth displays itself two- or three- or n-fold as truth-seeming1 versus truth-seeming2 versus truth-semingn…, each incompatible with the other. I will not go deep into these issues – it evades our present purposes and I have little training to pick on this history-of-philosophy-size package; nevertheless, let me just get a little cranky about the subject.
[The last sentence of this paragraph was still containing the idea that I was going to make an introduction to Aristotle on the subject of fallacies. Which I think failed, but at least ‘degenerated’ into what follows].
Consider this: sophistry is different from Philosophy (at least after the Aristotle-Plato Team decisively won the battle), different from classic (our?) Metaphysics, different from ideology (although postmodernism would probably rush to argue the reverse); it is not ‘just’ a psychological vice and clearly not ‘just’ falsehood/error. Not sole practice although not mere theory. Fallaciousness somehow has a peculiar status different from that of a lie, invention, error or fiction. And yet despite all these noteworthy attributes which qualify it as a ‘faultless’ subject of study, much of what Argumentation Theory is today could be regarded as finding the best means of (finally)(counter)attacking fallacies. Tell me how this sounds. It is taken from a contemporary account on fallacies:
Which requirements should an adequate theory of fallacies, in our view, fulfill? First it should provide norms for distinguishing between reasonable and unreasonable moves in argumentative discourse. Second, it should provide criteria for deciding when such a norm is violated. Third, it must provide interpretation procedures for determining whether an utterance satisfies these criteria. (van Eemeren, Grootendorst 1992, 104)
The law-crime analogy seems admittable, but to my mind this sounds like a description of a perfect “Swiss army knife” for fallacy hunting. They are delineating a morally and theoretically virtuous weapon. Now, although I’m not saying that this shouldn’t be a/the normal trace of Argumentation Theory practice, one could shoot for a weaker claim such as: If history of philosophy would ever interfere with Argumentation Theory, maybe – just maybe –, the latter’s presuppositions will be intensively questioned and maybe – just maybe – the effect will be salutarily favorable.
Let’s just dart a glance at how some other approaches keep up with things. The maximal account one could squeeze out of an Argumentation Theorist is an overpassing formulation like:
While there was certainly an appreciation of such mistakes in reasoning earlier, Aristotle was the first to begin categorizing them in a systematic way, first under the title of ‘sophistical refutations’, in a way … (Tindale, 2007, 6)
If adopting an unassuming tone, a more close regard towards that issue seems natural. One doesn’t even have to go very far with it, since simple questions like “Why?” and “Then what?” will most certainly do the trick. Let’s try the “Why?” here (translation in footnote):
Le chef d’accusation sous lequel Aristote parachève la condemnation platonicienne et relègue le sophiste hors de la philosophie, voire même hors de l’humanité : en instaurant à la fois le principe de non-contradiction et le régime de la signification[i] (Cassin [ed.], 1986, 2)
The law of noncontradiction gets hopping mad with sophists because, while the former states bivalence (truth-falsity) and fixed epistemology, the latter works with speech as phármakon: “The effect of speech upon the condition of the soul is comparable to the power of drugs over the nature of bodies” (Gorgias, 14) Thus, one of the two fundamental differences in sophists’ conception of language is that it makes us pass through stages, from better to worse or the other way around, it makes us fill the gap between truth and falsity with truth-seeming. This is wrong for many reasons, sais philosophy (aka The Plato-Aristotle Team): (1) the sophists put the medicine to wrong purposes such as deceiving or … salaries[ii] (2) even if they wouldn’t put in to wrong purposes, we wouldn’t know if they aren’t faking the practice of medicine (3) sophists turn “speaking of” into “speaking to”, orienting the axis of language from reference toward the hearer.
The other roadblock of Philosophy, le régime de la signification, is explained in a latter passage (translation in endnote):
[…]le sophiste fait vraiment pour Aristote beaucoup de bruit pour rien […] sous le régime du «parler de» massivement sémantique, qui est normalement le nôtre, sous lequel nous parlons et écrivons ici comme ailleurs, il va de soi que parler de rien équivaut à ne pas parler[iii] (Cassin, 7)
This means that the sophists speak without saying, which should be understood as without signifying/denoting. As the classic philosophy has it, a word has a meaning because the thing he denotes (refers to) has an essence, therefore and the latter determines the former, things command upon words. Notwithstanding, sophists revolve this conception by averring it thus:
Speech is a powerful lord, which by means of the finest and most invisible body effects the divinest works: it can stop fear and banish grief and create joy and nurture pity (Gorgias, 8.)
Which means that the logos now creates being, it is comes prior to being, for one cannot apprehend significance (reference) unless it is drawn by meaning (sense) – notice the Fregean atmosphere of this dichotomy[iv]! Which means we cannot mentally grasp being and extract ourselves from it in order to gain knowledge (about it) – notice the breeze of late Wittgenstein here[v]! Which means that the rhetorical effect of persuading is only a part of a much larger effect of … making (“l’effet-monde”, Cassin [ed.], 18), and aren’t we now in the air of Austin’s perlocutionary in – notice the … “sophistical” title – How to do things with words? Tell me now how this passage, brutally lifted out of context (Plato’s Gorgias, p.16) sounds like:
Socrates: It is knowledge about which of the things that are?
Gorgias: About speech (logos).
I will now stop for conclusions, yet very timid ones, since all I did was an outline of something of greater complexity. I am not suggesting that the allrights aren’t or weren’t good enough. My standpoint is that if we are to have a holistic approach on fallacies, the adjacent history-of-philosophy-wise approaches on sophistry should play their part; and that is even if this liaison it will produce a short-term shift of interest towards some unpractical questions (such as the “Why?” we sketched above). I know it sounds like demanding from logic to take a strange notice of history of thought but, as I understand it, it is more like demanding from practice to take a natural notice of the history of the theory from which it was generated.
[i] The main accusation with which Aristotle perfects the platonic condemnation and relegates the sophist out of philosophy (or even out of humanity) consists in enthroning the Law of Noncontradiction and the System of signification.
[ii] Rhetoric, 1355b 20, for sophistry is not a matter of ability but of deliberate choice [of specious arguments]
[iii] For Aristotle, the sophist actually makes much ado about nothing. Under the eminently semantical regime of “speaking about”, under which we now live, write and speak, it goes without saying that “speaking about nothing” literally means “not speaking”.
[iv] see Gottlob Frege, On sense and reference, The Philosophical Review, Vol. 57, No. 3 (May, 1948), pp. 210 It is natural, now, to think of there being connected with a sign (name, combination of words, letter), besides that to which the sign refers, which may be called the reference of the sign, also what I should like to call the sense of the sign, wherein the mode of presentation is contained.
[v] Ludwig Wittgenstein, On certainty, p. 5 The idealist's question would be something like: "What right have I not to doubt the existence of my hands?" (And to that the answer can't be: I know that they exist.) But someone who asks such a question is overlooking the fact that a doubt about existence only works in a language-game
2:52 “We’ve all agreed nonetheless on the extraordinary capacities that children have. Their capacities for innovation. Serena last night was a marvel.”
3:07 “My contention is all kids have tremendous talents and we squander them … pretty ruthlessly.”
3:15 “My contention is that creativity now is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status.”
5:37 “… kids will take a chance; if they don’t know, they will have a go. They’re not frightened of being wrong. Now, I don’t mean to say that being wrong is the same thing as being creative, but what we do know is, if you’re not prepared to be wrong you’ll never come up with anything original. If you’re not prepared to be wrong. And by the time they get to be adults, most kids have lost that capacity, they have become frightened of being wrong”
6:07 “We stigmatize mistakes. And we’re now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you could make. And the result is we are educating people out of their creative capacities. Picasso once said this, he said that ‘All children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up'. […] We don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather we get educated out of it.”
8:47 “Every education system on earth has the same hierarchy of subjects. Every one. Doesn’t matter where you go. You think it would be otherwise but it isn’t. At the top are Mathematics and Languages, then the Humanities and the bottom are the arts”
9:50 “Education, what’s it for? Who are the winners? I think you would have to conclude that the whole purpose of public education throughout the world is to produce university professors”
11:25 “Our education system is predicated on the idea of academic ability. And there’s a reason: the whole system was invented […] to meet the needs of industrialism”
12:15 “And the consequence is that many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they are not. Because the thing they were good at at school wasn’t valued or was actually stigmatized. And I think we can’t afford to go on that way.”
13:06 “We need to radically rethink our view of intelligence”
13:34 “In fact, creativity, which I define as the process of having original ideas that have value more often than not comes about through the interaction of different disciplinary ways of seeing things”
18:02 “I believe our only hope for the future is to adopt a new conception of human ecology. One in which we start to reconstute our conception of the richness of human capacity. […]we have to rethink the fundamental principles on which we’re educating our children”
18:57 “We have to be careful now that we use this gift [human imagination] wisely and that we avert some of the scenarios we’ve talked about; and the only way we’ll do it is by seeing our creative capacities for the richness they are and seeing our children for the hope that they are”
What’s Wrong With What’s Wrong?
Author: Charles L. Hamblin
Publisher: Vale Press
Year: 1983 [first edition 1970]
“What is a fallacy?” is one of those questions which history answered and … did not answer all at the same time. Two millennia of thought made them print thousands of dictionaries with a resolute definition of fallacy as follows (I picked up a random one):
A. an incorrect or misleading notion or opinion based on inaccurate facts or invalid reasoning 
All descriptions as such are a sort of tanaaa! when trying to come up with a definition of fallacy. [This definition in particular might just be the all-time champion of tanaaa!-ing, since it has more disjunctions than a restaurant menu. One might notice from the start that it embodies two seriously different notions: A1 inaccurate fact and A2 invalid reasoning]. Now, although I’m not saying that everyone who uses the term refers to this general meaning, it might be that, above all other definitions, laypersons make quick mental connection with this sort. I will not say upfront what is wrong with this definition, but you might have sensed it from the unveiled biased tone that some major miscues must have happened on the way to this generally accepted shot.
The purpose of the following set of texts is to arrive at some prevailing outline of theoretical apparatus with which to (1) refine the search for such “things” – I’ll stick to this naming until further elucidation–, (2) to appraise the major bugs regarding the import of the above mentioned definition into Argumentation Theory and (3) to follow some general rules of reorganizing the whole deal. In this post, we will be chiefly concerned with point 1.
N.B. I will henceforth refer to fallacies in hyperlink text when the general definition is concerned. These texts assume a common understanding of the subject. However, when you feel the meaning of the fallacy is somewhat slippery or uneasy, click on the link and spend some time together.
Charles Leonard Hamblin (1922-1985) was a spooky Australian pioneer computer scientist and a professor at Technical University of New South Wales, Sydney. According to Wikipedia, he had some major contributions in that rigorously calculating … affair of his (the Reverse Polish Notation and the stack in computing are allegedly his contributions – have no idea what they mean). Oh, and another thing: he happen to write the most influential book on Fallacies in the 20th Century. Guess how he named it? He named it Fallacies – bet he had no copyright problems with this title – and decided to make of it a ground-breaking, forward-looking intellectual endeavour. Well good for you, Mr. Hamblin, good for you!
Fallacies appeared in 1970 and came as a natural extension of what started with Stephen Toulmin (The Uses of Argument) and Chaïm Perelman (La Nouvelle Rhetorique) as a major reassessment of logic. Hamblin’s work resembles them in many respects (philosophical attitude towards symbolic logic and consistency on treating the field undertaken) and together they form the corpus of a later discipline called Informal Logic. We are not interested – at least for the moment – in these cultural issues, so moving on.
In this post, I will tackle the first chapter of the book (it’s a fairly big book, so I’m dividing it) called The Standard Treatment. Next posts will be significantly shorter, I promise.
“The Standard Treatment” (TST) as a concept is a rather disputed one (see Johnson 1990, 1991, Walton, 1991) but it is very useful for the first grasp on the subject of fallacies. It refers to the account on fallacies given at first by Aristotle on Sophistical Refutations, Topics, and Prior Analytics, account to which many scholars up to late 18th Century subscribed cheerfully and, most important, uncritically. The classifications and examples given in the textbooks following Aristotle might have varied sometimes from author to author, but in general “tradition has repeatedly proved too strong for its dissentients” (p.10). It wasn’t until the 16th century that some scholars felt the need to reject the foundations of TST and even the properness of such a subject in logic textbooks (e.g. Peter Ramus). And not until more recent times that authors formulated serious critical claims against it, like the one that out of fallaciousness one can not even make a theory at all, since it is impossible to mentally grasp erroneousness (e.g. De Morgan in the 19th century and Cohen and Nagel in the 20th). Be that as it may, Hamblin claims that we can bring together all these authors stemming from Aristotle into something we can shape as The Standard Treatment.
Even with its “dogmatic”, “worn-out”, and “debased” manner, TST still has a more precise definition of fallacies than the one we first fished out of the dictionary:
B. A fallacious argument, as almost every account from Aristotle onwards tells you, is one that seems valid but is not (p.12)
Without any further explanation, the passage from A to B seems a big one and we could pin down major differences: (1) we are now taking into consideration arguments, which means that a false claim by itself cannot be a fallacy unless it is embedded into an argumentative context (note our subtle reference to gogreen18), (2) we are now speaking about validity, and not inaccurate beliefs or facts, (3) a fallacy must bear some resemblance with what a valid argument actually is.
Hamblin seems to arrange TST into five (overlapping and imprecise – but hey, that’s the case to be made!) categories: fallacies inside language, fallacies outside language, ‘ad’ fallacies, formal fallacies and fallacies of scientific method. Since Hamblin’s main task is to criticize these categories, one should remember that this classification of TST is one that only serves the purpose of temporary organizing the history of fallacies.
We will now proceed in this manner: I will only write down the name of some fallacies and alongside the criticism that Hamblin made to this or that category. If you know what the general meaning of the name of the fallacy is, you can just read the criticism. If you have never heard of such puzzling items, you should follow the link attached to each one of them. It must be said that the link I’m providing may or may not correspond to what Hamblin gives as an example of TST, but I promise I will do my best so that the similarities will be greater than the differences. That being said, the main problems about the main fallacies are:
[just to make sure: what is after the ‘–’, is ‘Hamblin’s critical comment on’, not the ‘explanation of’ the fallacy; explanations come with examples in the link attached to the name]
A. Fallacies inside language (in dictione)
1. equivocation – Here, the problem is that “We are hardly capable of being deceived by any serious chain of reasoning exploiting the double-meaning in statements” (p.15), Hamblin was referring to examples of equivocation such as “Everything that runs has feet, The river runs, therefore, the river has feet”
2. amphiboly – How is it to be understood? Is ‘2x4+3’ an amphiboly (as De Morgan claimed)? Is “Save Soap and Waste Paper” (example cited by Irving Copi) even an argument? Since “puns and anecdotes do not take the place of logical analysis” (p.18), therefore, to function after the standard definition, such an argument should be that “truth in one sense makes us believe the truth in the other sense” and for Hamblin such an example is unlikely to be found.
3. composition and division – The problem here seems to be that, although the classic examples are conclusive and easy to spot, “in some cases, an argument of this form seems to be perfectly valid; thus ‘All the parts of this machine are made of metal, therefore this machine is made of metal’” (p. 21). In other words, there’s nothing wrong with the actual scheme, is the topic (the type of collection we are talking about) that renders the argument valid or not.
4. accent, figure of speech – these fallacies were lost along the way in the long history of TST. The fallacy of Accent first referred to being deceived by the misleading pronunciation of some words (Hamblin claims that this is unlikely to happen into an argumentative speech), and then to misleading emphasis inside a phrase (which makes it quite similar to amphiboly). Figure of speech referred to being deceived by the misleading etymology of a word (see endnote).
B. Fallacies outside language (extra dictionem)
5. accident (or sweeping generalization) – The first definition of this fallacy was highly unusable (it was based on the elusive distinction between essential and accidental properties) but I. Copi (p.63) restated this fallacy as “applying a general rule to a particular case whose ‘accidental’ circumstances render de rule inapplicable” and this seemed decisive (see other examples here). Hamblin advises caution when using the word “general” here, since it is meant to refer only to something that “holds most of the time”, not always.
6. secundum quid (or hasty generalization) – It is a common mistake in argumentation that we move “invalidly” from a few samples to the whole class (without necessary qualifications), and it is just as common to be super-accurate and say that we do not actually know for sure the sun will rise tomorrow as it did yesterday. Nevertheless, before accusing someone of committing this fallacy, Hamblin’s criticism has to be solved: (1) if David Hume is right when saying that every argument from particular cases to a general rule must be fallacious, then inductive reasoning is synonym to fallacy (2a)“most or all generalizations are deductively unjustified; but we have a need for other criteria which will enable us to distinguish between the too-hasty ones and the relatively reliable” (p.29) (2b) “if an induction is based on ‘fewer than all instances’, it may lead us into error, but it also may not” (p.49) and later (2c) “we accept in principle that some inductive arguments are better than others, but by which cannons do we judge?” (p. 225)
7. ignoratio elenchi (or ignorance of refutation) – There is nothing wrong with this fallacy in its meaning. It represents a legitimate accusation to put forward when someone is short of relevance. The problem with this legitimacy is that is too wide: “so described, this category can be stretched to cover virtually every kind of fallacy” (p. 31). Aristotle himself was ‘struck’ by this problem: “It strikes Aristotle, however, that if his definition of ‘refutation’ is really complete, he can regard all fallacies as due to failure, in some respect or other, to conform to it (167a 17-196a, 22)” (p. 87)
8. petitio principii (or begging the question) – I remember that the formula ‘begging the question’ was puzzling for me and that Hamblin’s ‘translation’ helped, so note that ‘begging the question’ should be read as ‘beg for that which is in the question-at-issue’ and even more clear “asking to be granted the question at issue, which one has set out to prove”. This is one of the major bones of contention between logic and … well, everyone else. We could extract the major points from Hamblin (1) “there is nothing wrong with inferring something from itself” (p.33), which means that what Formal Logic has to say about “p therefore p” or “p because p” is that they are both valid. (2) circular reasoning could come in many forms, none of which render the argument invalid (3) J. S. Mill claimed that all valid reasoning commits this fallacy, since, if we reason from ‘Socrates is a man’ to ‘Socrates is mortal’ using the premise ‘All men are mortal’, the conclusion – the fact that Socrates is mortal, is begged in the premise ‘All men are mortal’. I am afraid the issue is rather complex and even sketching it here would mean oversimplifying. We will return to it in due course.
9. many questions (or complex question) – “this having been said, it remains to ask what relevance these examples have in a list of fallacies. A fallacy, we must repeat, is an invalid argument; and a man who asks a misleading question can hardly be said to have argued, validly or invalidly, for anything at all” (p.39)
10. post hoc (or post hoc ergo propter hoc, or false cause) – This fallacy also is quite common especially when arguing about reasons (when we try to establish why someone did certain things or acted in a certain way), but consider Hamblin’s remark: (1) “Even so, this is puzzling. If we know that B always occurs after A we are well on the way to setting up a causal law” (p.37) (2) precise differences between necessary conditions and constant conjunctions is not actually an easy catch and (3) we already talked faulty, hasty and sweeping generalizations, are we now classifying ‘even hastier generalizations’?
C. ‘ad’ Fallacies
11. ad hominem, ad verecundiam, ad misericordiam, ad ignorantioam, ad populum, ad baculum, – you will find them all in English version everywhere as ‘appeal to’ except for the ad hominem, which is probably the only one that could not fit into this category (or could be crammed in artificially like ‘appeal to personal attack’). Although they sound so ‘latinish’, one should note that the genre was first invented by John Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding in the 17th century – although ad hominem could be traced back to Aristotle (see Walton, 2004). The chief matters which might concern us are: (1) they are actually all peculiar versions of ignoratio elenchi – since they in some way evade the question at issue, (2) they change their ‘degree’ of fallaciousness based on context – this problem is close to the one regarding hasty generalization –, (3) turning them into deductive syllogisms comes in handy (X is an authority on facts of type T, X said S – which is a fact of type T, Therefore, S is true) but it is actually worse, since they are not meant to function as deductively valid. We will deal with these intimately in our following texts.
D. Formal Fallacies
12. The idea of classifying formal fallacies (you should check out this link with theoretical cautiousness) is also quite new, although affirming the consequent or the fallacy of undistributed middle stem from Aristotle’s Prior Analytics. Hamblin takes it that Whatley was the first to borrow the idea from Aldrich and propose this new group. Difficulties arising from the classification are numerous and of high theoretical importance (they virtually represent the rupture from symbolic logic). We will discuss them in detail when arriving at chapter 6 (‘Formal fallacies’) and 7 (‘The concept of Argument’). For now, note that this could be the most problematic chapters of Fallacies, as a field of study.
13. Oh, this is the best part even if Hamblin did not pay much attention to it. Today, Internet is full of crazy names which, although define fallacies that could easily fall under another category, refer closely to dubious nonachievements in argumentation. Sometimes, the actual problem is that the nomination has nothing to do with what is actually fallacious within such an argument. I am not saying that there is something entirely wrong with finding stage names for every conceivable rule breakage, it’s just that it seems something of an overdo. I have a personal top 5:
4. Reductio ad Hitlerum (argumentum ad nazium)
as a temporary conclusion, what should remember is that:
(1) TST is flawed in many respects and should be dealt with carefully
(2) Logic has to have some uncovered fields on which, at least with classic tools, it cannot operate
(3) By means of logic or of substitutes, a distinction must be made between deductive and inductive criteria (resolve secundum quid problem)
(4) By means of logic or of substitutes, a distinction must be made between inferring and arguing (resolve petitio principii problem)
(5) Baptizing fallacies is not wrong in itself, it’s just that it is made with tools from TST and nobody seems to have a standard criterion
(6) [this has not been argued here but we will refer to it in due course] – It might be the case that Hamblin’s treatment of The Standard Treatment is rather abusive, and that “we have reasons to think that the textbook tradition is not nearly so monolithic or dogmatic as Hamblin’s Coinage might suggest” (Johnson, 1990, p.165)
 Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 6th Edition 2003. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003
 he insists on remarking that “Strangely, in a certain sense, there has never yet been a book on fallacies; never, that is, a book-length study of the subject”, p. 10
 the cataclysmic passage sounds like this: “And what we find in most cases, I think it should be admitted, is as debased, worn-out and dogmatic a treatment as could be imagined – incredibly tradition-bound, yet lacking in logic and in historical sense alike”, p. 12
 her actual introductory passage sounded like this: “the important thing to remember with claims is you wanna make sure that in order to be considered legitimate and valid, your claim has to be sound, it must be a sound claim; and the way that we judge that is by making sure that it doesn’t have any fallacies”. This passage is defective on so many levels that I cannot afford to explain it here. However, one should bear in mind that (1) validity and soundness normally have nothing to do with claims on their own and (2) fallaciousness is not the same thing as falsehood (3) it is actually the other way around, namely, “in order (for your argument) to be considered sound, it must be considered legitimate and valid”, although I am not very sure what does she mean by legitimate. I am guessing that gogreen18 means “argument” every time she uses the word “claim”, but this doesn’t account for the wide of the mark definition of fallaciousness.
 Hamblin quotes J. S. Mill, who fell into this trap glamorously: “The only proof capable of being given that an object is visible is that people actually see it. The only proof that a sound is audible is that people hear it: and so of the other sources of our experience. In like manner, I apprehend, the sole evidence it is possible to produce that anything is desirable, is that people do actually desire it”. Hamblin commented that “to say something is visible or audible, is to say that people can see or hear it, whereas to say that something is desirable is to say that it is worthy of desire or, plainly, a good thing”. (p.26)
 Hamblin notes that, since we have a fallacy of four terms, “there is nothing to stop us from having a fallacy of Five Terms, or even a Fallacy of Six terms” (p. 45) and later on that, if we take syllogistic laws as criteria for baptizing fallacies, we might end up with names such as Fallacy of Undistributed Middle with Illicit Process of the Minor Term and an Affirmative Conclusion with One Negative Premise: “a syllogism can brake more than one rule at once; and, with a little ingenuity, we can succeed in breaking all” (p. 200)
HAMBLIN, Charles Leonard, “Fallacies”, Vale Press, 1983, Newport News, VA
JOHNSON, Ralph H., “Hamblin on The Standard Treatment”, in Philosophy and Rhetoric, Vol. 23, No. 3, 1990. Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park and London
JOHNSON, Ralph H., “In Response To Walton”, Philosophy and Rhetoric, Vol. 24, No. 4, 1991, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park PA
WALTON, Douglas, “Hamblin on The Standard Treatment of Fallacies”, Philosophy and Rhetoric, Vol. 24, No. 4, 1991, State University, University Park PA
WALTON, Douglas, “Argumentation Schemes and Historical Origins of the Circumstantial Ad Hominem Argument”, Argumentation, 18: 359–368, 2004, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Netherlands.
I wanted to start out on my fallacy trip (I really did), but I somehow stumbled upon this critical mastermind, this fault-finding sage, this ratiocinating … anyway, I invited her home for us to feed upon her wisdom. You be good tykes, now, for I will not allow any discourteous treatment whatsoever!
The “fallacy inside job” I’m planning , the “sophistry monkey business plan” I drew, the “elench … ishtry!” is almost done. The thing is I haven’t been able to find some articles so I got a bit thrown off the track, but I guess the first post on fallacies will pop out on Saturday (12th Dec).
Never mind me. This gal’s name is … let me check … yeah, gogreen18 (it “rhymes or reasons”) and this official video of hers is called Fallacies Aren’t Sexy. Which might be true, yes. Malaria isn’t sexy either, though. Anyhow, she instinctively refers to her audience as “hey, guys”, and I hope we will refer to her in our upcoming texts.
My astronomically precise estimations show that is (the infamous) C. H. Hamblin who will first strike upon this poor child, but I guess most of you clicked “play” in the video below and few of you (“guys”) are reading still.
I arranged the subject approached in this text so that the issues will generally fix up on the route from general/simple/undisputed to particular/complex/controversial. Our main task, however, is to make some sense out of the widely discussed notion of unexpressed premise(s), and not to work out theoretical solutions or solve decades-old disputes. As pointed in the chapeau of the first part, we aim for the “average” form of these concepts.
Although some might argue that an unusual haze covered the concept of enthymeme right from its debut in Aristotle’s Prior Analytics and then in Rhetoric, I think we can outgo the issue of Aristotle’s old (and somewhat incompatible) definitions. As it is obvious that over the centuries the definition from the Rhetoric prevailed and gathered adherents, and since linking the definitions from the two works cited above would not be that inconceivable, we will just stick with the mob, for which the main definition is this:
“The enthymeme is a sort of syllogism” (1355a)
“The enthymeme must consist of few propositions, fewer often than those which make up the normal syllogism” (1357a)
The most frequent example of an enthymeme is a crippled syllogism with a missing universal proposition:
Socrates is human,
Therefore, Socrates is mortal
A six year old will have no problem supplying the unexpressed premise here, namely the universal proposition: All men are mortal. The rules stay pretty much the same when the unexpressed proposition is the conclusion (consider stating both premises in the previous example; the six year old will nail it down without trouble), except that we might want to change “unexpressed premise” into “unexpressed conclusion” or “non-explicit assumption/conclusion” or others as such. We will pay little attention to unexpressed conclusions, though one should bear in mind the fact that they can be quite tricky.
Let us now take one step forward into our analysis with this question: how do we know that the premise we supplied is the good one? The spontaneous answer is “It makes the argument valid”. And it does, yet consider this example:
Dr. House is always making fun of patients.  He should be fired.
There is evidently a gap between  and , and yet no clear clues as to how to choose the (“best”? “correct”? “meant”?) unexpressed premise . The first problem is that one might not view this argument as an enthymeme at all, but instead take it as a non-sequitur, in which the conclusion simply does not follow. One suggested criterion is to look for topical relevance, in other words, search for “a common content expression, or the ability to produce a common content expression by making definitionally equivalent substitutions”. Since in our chosen example, the relevance is quite obvious, we should be able to make the next step. Still, several candidates are possible, all of which may render the argument valid, or at least strengthen it as opposed to the primary  therefore  form:
[2.1] If Dr. House is always making fun of patients, he should be fired
[2.2] Doctors that make fun of patients should be fired
[2.3] People violating their job contracts should be fired
[2.4.1] Doctors that make fun of patients are committing malpractice
[2.4.2] Doctors committing malpractice should be fired
[2.5] Doctors that make fun of patients should be fired or (V) France is in Italy
Things are getting a bit complicated. Let’s take a look at these sentences. Although fills the gap between the stated premise and conclusion, [2.1] functions only as a proposition which explicitly tells us that “it is permitted to infer the conclusion from the given premise”. It is not just the fact that [2.1] adds nothing new to the argument (being merely a “reiterative candidate”) or that it is superfluous, untestable, or not general enough; it’s just that by doing this we could get beaten up by epistemologists. By providing this sort of “if … then …” filling, every argument could be made deductively valid on subsequent analysis.
Propositions [2.2], [2.3] and [2.4] seem to be all improved versions of [2.1]. We may say that they are stronger – if we regard a certain definition of “propositional strength”, or more general or even testable. Some of them are even plausible – that is to say, it is quite ok to assume that someone had them in mind when putting forward this argument. All these characterizations might be true but, as one might have expected, they are not helping us to choose the (right) candidate – since we are trying to cut them down to just one. This leads us to our next step.
So are we allowed to add this content? And moreover, do we want to do that? Both the hearer and the analyst of this argument are always in danger of making two equally significant errors. First of all, they could be committing something that resembles a well known fallacy: “There is always the danger of the straw man fallacy, of attributing as a premise or conclusion of a speaker's argument a proposition that exaggerates or distorts the argument in order to make it easier to refute”. The remedy to this, continues Walton, is the principle of charity, which advises us to reconstruct the argument in such way to maximize its strength. Of course, one might ask “what kind of strength?” and while we’re at it “how come we always have to reconstruct them as deductively valid”? Whatever happened to induction or abduction?
Consider now the second (rather opposite) error: we are faced with an enthymeme which we transform into a deductively valid, maximally strengthen, fully generalized and testable argument: how does the hearer/analyst know this is the same argument from the enthymeme? How do we know that our charitable misinterpretation is not a degenerated one that takes into account … a different argument?
To my mind, the problem of unexpressed premises is nowadays fixed in this Golden Nasty “Lesser-of-two-evils” Rule that could be formulated thus: You are always susceptible of being closer to one of the two errors. Some authors describe it in the form of analyst vs. interpreter, used premises vs. needed premises, logical minimum vs. pragmatical optimum or argument’s assumption vs. arguer’s assumption. Either way, everyone feels that some distinction must be made between some sort of “action X” and “action Y” both of which are assumed to be performable when regarding the same argument but which differ in some respects.
- needed premises and used premises
In the early 1980s, two major works founded the needed/used distinction: “Identifying Implicit Assumptions” (1982), an article by Robert H. Ennis and “A Practical Study of Argument” (1985), a book written by Trudy Govier. The terminology would be later assumed by many theorists, the Canadian professor Douglas Walton being one of them. The distinction is at first easy to understand and useful. It is the theoretical back-up of such an approach that has received its criticism. The criterion for making such a differentiation is the goal of the analysis; it’s like pre-asking ourselves why we are searching for the “thing” that is missing. If we want to “evaluate” or “search the truth and validity” of an argument, we should fill in needed premises: ones that make the argument valid. It is after making this analytic step (with either one of the unexpressed premise from [2.1] to [2.5], in our example) and only after this that we are able “judge” the sustainability of what has been given. You might notice that this step only takes us from non-sequitur to enthymeme and nothing more. If we want to “interpret the meaning” and “attribute it” to the arguer, than we are in for a harder job, and that is finding used premises: the ones that are plausible to have been used by the arguer himself. This is highly problematic: how do we interpret arguers’ texts? How do we know what the speaker had in mind based on given (explicit) claims? Are we hoping for any degree of certainty when making such interpretation? This is sometimes referred to as “the attribution problem” and it has been responded to in many ways.
- logical minimum and pragmatical optimum
This distinction is mainly present among pragma-dialecticians and is sometimes offered as a solution to the “attribution problem”. The “logical minimum” is the sentence that has as its antecedent the explicit premise and as its consequent the conclusion of the explicit argument. In other words, the now well-known “if … then …” statement, as reiterative and useless as presented above. The “pragmatic optimum” is the generalized version of the logical minimum (in other words, “made as informative as required”) that does not ascribe unwarranted commitments to the speaker. A commitment is “warranted” if it can be inferred from the speech acts explicitly put forward. That is to say, denying the commitment and affirming the speech act would be a pragmatic inconsistency. In our example, explicitly putting forward  and  and denying [2.2] would be … pragmatically inconsistent.
I think this solution is strange in at least two ways. (1) It brings nothing new to analyzing enthymemes, and (2) It is useful in only some (happy) cases. The idea that we should use contextual information in order to make decisions about the right candidate (the used one) has always been taken into consideration. Nobody doubted it. Douglas Walton mentioned it as a “part solution” in 1983, based on Hamblin’s remark that speakers’ commitment stores should always be internally consistent (which might sound a bit familiar, now that we have mentioned Eemeren’s pragmatical consistency):
It is fairly clear how you can partly solve the problem of enthymemes […]. You can rule that a proposition is a fair assumption to make as a missing premiss in a player’s argument if that proposition is in that player’s commitment set.
Secondly, using this “rule for optimum” does not even apply to all cases of enthymematic argumentation. Gerritsen observes how “today’s theorists study larger samples of text and try to take the context into account” and that “the concept of an unexpressed premise is entirely context-dependent” . As much consensus as this closure might inspire, we cannot help noticing that if this is the pragmatic concept of enthymeme, it means that everything that has been done heretofore has been merely speculating and wishful thinking (“unnecessary guesswork”, see first note of part I) and that without any context, there’s no analysis. Which means that if we encounter a context-free, low-information, no-commitments-attached enthymeme, which we have reasons to regard as a “sequitur”, we will not be able to analyze it properly unless sudden details about context arise out of the … context.
This line of reasoning may be consistent, but it is nevertheless dismissive and restrictive, and this criticism might end up postulating the need to analyze only true (that is not hypothetical, nor made-up) examples. This again might be true, but one will have to explain decades of context-free analysis, and all the terminology that it has produced: charity, sufficiency, plausibility, preservation, strength, validity etc. Don S. Levi explained it thus:
I think of the absence of rhetorical context as the dirty little secret about the P[remise]-C[onclusion] sequence paraphrase, at least when understood in terms of the enthymeme approach to argument analysis
 GOULDING, Daniel J. 1965. Aristotle's Concept of the Enthymeme, Journal of the American
Forensic Society 2: 104-8., qtd. in: WALTON, Douglas, Enthymemes, Common Knowledge, and Plausible
Inference¸ Philosophy and Rhetoric, Vol. 34, No. 2, 2001 p. 98
 HITCHCOCK, David.. Enthymematic Arguments. Informal Logic, North America, Vol. 7, No. 2. jan. 1985, p. 87
 EEMEREN, Frans H. van, GROOTENDORST, Rob, 1992 p. 65
 BURKE, Michael, Unstated Premises, Informal Logic, Vol. 7, No. 2, Ian 1985, p. 108
 idem, p.110
 JOHNSON, Ralph H. Charity Begins at Home, Informal Logic Newsletter, 3:3, June 1981, p. 7 Proposition P is stronger than proposition Q if and only if P entails, and is not entailed by, Q, qtd. in BURKE, Michael, 1985, p. 109
 WALTON, Douglas, 2001, p. 95
 GERRITSEN, Susane, Unexpressed Premises, in Crucial Concepts in Argumentation Theory, Frans H. van Eemeren (ed.), Amsterdam University Press, 2001, Amsterdam, p. 51-56 for the deductivist – pluralist distinction among argumentation theorists see
 ENNIS, Robert H. Identifying Implicit Assumptions, in Synthese, 51, 1982 61-68, GOVIER, Trudy A Practical Study of Argument, Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1985, WALTON, Douglas Argument Structure: A Pragmatic Theory, Toronto/Buffalo/London: University of Toronto Press, 1996, WALTON, Douglas, 2001
 GERRITSEN, Susane, 2001, p. 67
 PAGLIERI, Fabio, 2007, p. 2
 EEMEREN, Frans H. van, GROOTENDORST, Rob, 1992 p. 64
 WALTON, Douglas, Enthymemes, in Logique et Analyse, No. 103-104, 1983, p. 400
 GERRITSEN, Susane, 2001, p.69
 LEVI, Don S., The Case of the Missing Premise, in “Informal Logic” Vol. 17, No.1, 1995, p.80
Before taking our study to the second part, the one concerning unexpressed premises, I think two little adjustments on some of the issues briefly presented in the first part are somewhat necessary.
The first question we were asking there was: “Why does implicitness occur”? The pragmatic explanation of leaving something unstated was that in everyday conversation, we (“usually”/“normally”) prefer to be apparently unexplicit rather than essentially superfluous (Eemeren and Grootendorst, 1992). I would like to amend this explanation in some respects, and that is due to the clever idea (whispered to me afterwards) that pointing out how come smth is not a substitute for pointing out the reasons underlying smth. That is to say, the pragmatic attempt to account for implicitness is chiefly descriptive (subsequent analysis) and hence cannot reveal (antecedent) reasons. Since it is not our interest here to follow the theoretical path of reason analysis – which some might disparage as “unnecessary guesswork about motives” –, we (and hopefully our whisperer, too) will be satisfied with quoting the notion of bounded rationality, which can supply the satisfactory interpretation of the “not-saying-something” act. This point of view – stemming from cognitive sciences – takes it that agents are cognitively resource-bounded:
The notion of resource-boundedness expresses a simple fact of life: we have to perform our daily activities, including cognitive tasks, making use of a finite set of resources – including the most diverse quantities, such as space, time, breath, available information, the computational capacity of our brain, the size and plasticity of our memory, the amount of money in our bank account, the range of our social network, and many more.
The second amendment regards our division: I. Phrasal implicitness (regarding the understanding of apparently erroneous or absurd/obscure phrases), II. Implicit speech acts, III. Indirect speech acts (for the second and the third see part I of the text) and IV. Unexpressed premises. Let us firmly note that this distinction solely satisfy our purposes (roughly said, to focus on Argumentation Theory Implicitness) and does not … imply that it is a good apparatus to work with irrespective of domain or interests. Another whisperer (they are getting quite chatty, right?) most rightfully noticed that Gricean implicature can just as well function as a concept for working out phrasal implicitness, while we mentioned it only under point III. Well it certainly does! Placing the communication rules under a particular point of our division does not … imply that they should be used/taken into account exclusively in our described situations.
Phrasal implicitness is indeed frequently understood by appealing to context but the fact is that they are marked by a high degree of conventionalization, and I think it would be correct to intuitively regard them as conversation-free apprehensible. Besides, Grice’s example of the testimonial for the candidate in which he chooses to write that his “handwriting is extremely legible” (and we can implicate that the student is not that good, since nothing else was mentioned about him exept his caligraphic writing) is a way of saying that implication has little to do with phrasing or propositional content, and rests merely on the choice of saying something in a particular context. We will not pursue further this issue, as we mentioned that the division is open to change. Moreover, our main interest is in the second part in which we will point out a few ideas about unexpressed premises.
 EEMEREN, Frans H. van, GROOTENDORST, Rob, 1992, p.10
 PAGLIERI, Fabio, No More Charity, Please! Enthymematic Parsimony and the Pitfall of Benevolence, in H. V. Hansen et. al (Eds.), Disensus and the Search for Common Ground, CD-ROM, pp. 1-26, Windsor, ON: OSSA, 2007, p. 7
 HELGESSON, Gert, What is implicit?, in CRÍTICA Revista Hispanoamericana de Filosofía, Vol. 34, No. 100, april 2002: 33-54, Uppsala University, p. 39: For example, a boy accidentally cuts his finger and his mother comforts him by saying: “You’re not going to die.” The expansion of this sentence is most likely “from this cut”, since she probably does not mean that he is immortal.