Speaker Series Jan 15

Speaker Series
Friday, January 15, 2021 - 15:00

Centre for Research in Reasoning, Argumentation & Rhetoric along with the PhD in Argumentation Studies at the University of Windsor invite you to a talk by

Daniel Cohen
Colby College, Maine

You Cannot Judge an Argument By Its Closure

It may be a commonplace that bad arguments can have good conclusions, but it is a lesson more easily taught than learned. One of the reasons that it may be easier to appreciate in theory than practice is that its range of application extends beyond the narrow logicians’ sense of arguments as inferences, where the possibility of true conclusions from invalid reasoning is unproblematic, to include the whole gamut of desirable outcomes for argumentation, from demonstrable truths and optimal solutions to instances of rational persuasion and even the mutually satisfactory resolution of a difference.

There is much to recommend appeals to arguer satisfaction as a criterion for argument evaluation, especially when proponents, opponents, judges, audiences, and everyone else who engages with the argument – including its critics – is counted among the arguers. Any critical objection to an argument is eo ipso evidence that not all the arguers are satisfied. There is, however, also something worrisome about arguer satisfaction as a criterion. It is relative to the contingent complement of arguers involved. 

Relativizing argument evaluation in this way leaves open the possibility that while all the arguers might be satisfied, perhaps they ought not be and the reasons for this would not be accessible to them. Nor would it be visible to any critical examination of the argument itself. That is, two arguments reaching the same conclusion by the same means – arguments that are word-for-word identical down to the last speech act of each and every participant – could still merit different evaluations. The characters of the arguers need to be taken into account, even if the character differences do not manifest in the specific argument at hand.


Friday, January 15, 2021


Weekly presentations conducted via Zoom

All those interested should contact crrar@uwindsor.ca for more information.