Ralph H. Johnson, Senior Research Fellow

Ralph JohnsonRalph Johnson

Johnson was hired as an Instructor in 1966. He received his Ph.D in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame in 1972.

He retired in Fall 2006 after 39 years, during which he served two terms as Head of Department.

In 1971, he along with his colleague, J. Anthony Blair, developed a new approach to logic they called informal logic. In 1977, Johnson and Blair published their text, Logical Self-Defense (3rd edition, 1993; U.S. edition, 1994; IDEA, 2006). In 1979, Johnson and Blair founded the Informal Logic Newsletter, which became the journal, Informal Logic, in 1985. In 2004 he co-founded the Network for the Study of Reasoning, a cluster of Canadian experts researching the theory and its applications of reasoning and argument. His articles have appeared in such journals as American Philosophical Quarterly, Synthese, Argumentation, Philosophy and Rhetoric and Informal Logic. In 1996, a collection of his articles and papers was published by Vale Press under the title The Rise of Informal Logic. In 2000, his book, Manifest Rationality: A Pragmatic Study of Argument, was published by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Johnson has conducted seminars and workshops on informal logic and critical thinking across North America and in Europe.

In 1993, Johnson received a 3M Teaching Fellowship for outstanding university teachers, one of ten such awards conferred that year in Canada.

In 1994, he was awarded the rank of University Professor by the University of Windsor. In 2000, he was awarded the Distinguished Research Award by the International Society for the Study of Argumentation.

In 2003, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. In 2005, he received the Career Achievement Award from the University of Windsor. Johnson is listed in Who’s Who in Canada.



Informal Logic, Argumentation Theory, Critical Thinking


Current Research

Johnson is currently engaged in currently working on a book about Dialectical Adequacy, which will act as a successor to his Manifest Rationality (2000). He is also working on visual arguments, defeasibility, and Hamblin’s theory of argument.

Recent Funding

  • SSHRC Grant for Learned Journals, 2014-2017, 
  • 2005. Network for the Study of Reasoning. SSHRC Research Cluster Design Grant (Renewal). $25,000.
  • 2004 Network for the Study of Reasoning, SSHRC Research Cluster Design Grant. $30,000.
  • 2003 Informal Logic @ 25, SSHRC small conference grant. $10.000.
  • 2001.OSSA Conference, SSHRC small conference grant. $10,000.
  • SSHRC grant to learned journals, 2002-2005. $27,000


Journal Articles

  • 2015. A Meta-Level Approach to the Problem of Defining ‘Critical Thinking’ (with Benjamin Hamby).Forthcoming in Argumentation.
  • 2013.  “Introduction” to Rhetoric’s Contributions to the Study of Argumentation. Special Issue of Philosophy and Rhetoric, Ralph H. Johnson & Christopher W. Tindale (Eds.)   46:4, 379-391.
  • 2013.   The Role of Audience in Argumentation from the Perspective of Informal Logic. Special Issue of Philosophy and Rhetoric 46:4.. 533-55.
  • 2012. When Informal Logic met Critical Thinking.  Inquiry.27:3 (Fall 2012), 5-15.
  • 2012. Govier’s ‘Invention’ of the Theory of Argument. Informal Logic 33:2 (Spring), 98-115.

Books Edited

  • 2013 Back in the Day: 1963-2013. Ralph H Johnson, Kathleen McCrone;  Sheila Cameron, Kenneth Pryke,(Eds.). Windsor:  Black Moss Press
  • 2011 Conductive Argument: An Overlooked Type of Defeasible Reasoning. Ralph H Johnson, J. Anthony Blair, (Eds.)  London, College Publications.
  • 2010   The Future of Religion. Stanley Cunningham, Paul Rennick, Ralph H. Johnson,(Eds. Cambridge:  Scholars Press.

Chapters contributed to books

  • 2013   The University of Windsor: Home to Informal Logic. In: Back in the Day.  K. McCrone et al (Eds.) pp. 186-190.
  • 2012   “Wittgenstein’s Influence of Hamblin’s Concept of  ‘Dialectical’.” In Topical Themes in Argumentation Theory, Frans H. van Eemeren and Bart Garssin (Co-Editors). Dordrecht: Springer, pp. 49-57   
  • 2012  “Critical Thinking as the Antidote to Dogmatism,” In  Educating for Complex Thinking through Philosophical Inquiry: Models Advances and Proposals for the New Millenium, Marina Santo & Steano Oliverio (Eds). Liguiro: Napoli.

Papers delivered to Professional Associations

  • 2013 “Defeasibility from the Perspective of Informal Logic.” The Ontario Society for the Study of Argumentation: OSSA10, May 25.      
  • 2013 Commentary on: Adam Auch: “Virtuous Argumentation and the Challenges of Hype”
  • The Ontario Society for the Study of Argumentation: OSSA10, May 24.      
  • 2013 “A Pragmatic Theory of Argument with Implications for the Theory of Reasoning."Presented at: OSSA10 WORKSHOP: Historical and Empirical Approaches to Logic. May 22.
  • 2011 Commentary on Hamby: “Eating Flowers, Holding Hands: Should Critical Thinking Pedagogy ‘Go Wild’”? Ontario Society for the Study of Argumentation Conference: OSSA 9.  May 18.
  • 2011   Visual Argumentation: Shifting the Level,  Workshop: What's to be said (next) about "visual" argument?  at Ontario Society for the Study of Argumentation: OSSA  9. May 17.

Invited Addresses and Papers  

  • 2011  “Informal Logic and its Contribution to Argumentation Theory.”  The  International Symposium: Inside Arguments: Logic vs. Argumentation Theory, hosted by the Faculty of Letters of the University of Coimbra, 24-26 March

Editorial Activity

  • Manuscript Editor, Informal Logic, 2010-2013.
  • Co-editor with Christopher Tindale:  Special Issue of Philosophy &Rhetoric: Rhetoric’s Contributions to the Study of Argumentation Vol. 46, #4.
  • Co-editor with J. Anthony  Blair:  Special Issue of Informal Logic in Honour of Trudy Govier Vol. 33, No.2 (Spring 2013),
  • Co-editor with  Douglas N. Walton:  Special Issue of Informal Logic on Charles Hamblin.Vol. 31, No.4 (2011).