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Argumentum ad Verecundiam
Author(s): John Woods and Douglas Walton
Philosophy & Rhetoric
, Summer, 1974, Vol. 7, No. 3 (Summer, 1974), pp. 135-
Published by: Penn State University Press
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Philosophy & Rhetoric
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Argumentum ad Verecundiam
John Woods and Douglas Walton
It is commonplace that thè informai fallacies constitute a
branch of logic (though we should prefer to say "the analysis of
argument") virtually bereft of theoretical articulation. In récent
years, the practical importance of the study of informai fallacies
has been recognized in many an introductory logic text, but very
little systematic or sustained attention has been given to exploit-
ing the potentialities of this important area. Fallacies hâve been
of relatively constant interest since Aristotle, but on the whole
the tendency has been to approach them intuitively and taxon-
omically rather than to pursue their theoretical aspects at ap-
propriate levels of generality and systematicity. One need not
hâve done very much teaching of introductory logic to appre-
ciate that the lack of clear and adequate characterizations of
the fallacies makes it virtually impossible to commend to stu-
dents fallacy-theoretic notions as a really effective strategy in
the analysis of argumentation. Yet there can be little doubt that
the usefulness of such stratégies for adjudicating actual argu-
mentation in naturai language could be greatly advanced by a
more systematic attempi to raise ourselves beyond mere intui-
tions about f allaciousness.
Consider, for example, the traditional fallacy of ad verecun-
diam or appeal to authority. It has often been urged that, like
the other fallacies, the ad verecundiam does not admit of treat-
ment by strictly formai methods, chiefly because of the psycho-
logical and contextual éléments involved in its commission. De
Morgan, among others, made a kindred point when he argued
John Woods is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Victoria. He is
co-editor of Necessary Truth; author of Proof and Truth and The Logic of
Fiction and editor of Dialogue. Douglas Walton is Assistant Professor of
Philosophy at the University of Winnipeg. He is contributor to Journals such
as The Canadiern Journal of Philosophy, Systematics, The Journal of Criticai
Professors Woods and Walton hâve been engaged in a joint research pro-
ject on Informai Fallacies for the past two years.
Philosophy and Rhetoric, Vol. 7, No. 3 (1974). Published by The Penn-
sylvania State University Press, University Park, Pa. and London.
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that since there is an indefinitely large number of ways in which
one can make logicai errors, we ought not to expect to hit upon
any decisive method for determining when exacüy a fallacy
occurs.1 In thè case of thè ad verecundiam, whether or not to
charge that a fallacy has been committed is often obscured by
the piain fact that sometimes an appeal to authority is perfectly
sound.2 True, the appeal to authority might not be deductively
valid, but all the same, it seems that on occasion it is wholly
reasonable to give preferential credibility to the reasoned judg-
ment of an expert over the judgment of a layman. Thus, it is
often said that such an appeal commits a fallacy only where the
appeal in question is to an authority that does not exist, to ex-
pertise of questionable or debased credentials.
But for all this talk of thè occasionai soundness of such ap-
peals, it may be feit that there is always an élément of intrinsic
nonobjectivity in any appeal to authority and that objectivity is
only to be found in a direct appeal to évidence, where whatever
it is legitimate to mean by "évidence," évidence and expert testi-
mony are understood to be disjoint.3 By these lights, to allow
an appeal to authority as a genuine form of acceptable argument
is to throw scientific objectivity to the winds. How often do we
hear it said that an explanation or prédiction is "scientific" (i.e.
reputable) only if it is intersubjective, reproducible, and so not
dépendent upon the private évaluation of a particular individuai?
According to this way of thinking an appeal to authority, having
intrinsically inexact and subjective éléments about it, must be
ruled out of the domain of science entirely.
It is notable that in judgments of expertise the expert's verdict
may be based on inarticulable background éléments and so not
be amenable to total sentential représentation. It is sometimes
said, therefore, that criteria of evidential support in terms of
relative frequency or degree of confirmation relative to a class
of sentences E, the évidence class, is not the sort of support set-
up sought in the appeal to authority. And similarly, whereas
explanation in terms of the deductive-nomological model sug-
gested by Hempel requires that the antécédent conditions in
generai laws be stated in sentential form, in the appeal to au-
thority this requirement is not always or even commonly satis-
fiable. In assigning a certain degree of credibility to a sentence,
an authority may partly dépend on his intuition or judgment
formed from and enriched by substantial familiarity with the
area in question. Such a factor is especially prominent in the
case of the applied sciences, where diagnosis is not usually
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based entirely on an exactly specifiable évidence set. Yet hère it
is quite reasonable to dépend on the reasoned valuation of an
expert even though he is unable to cite évidence in the form of
a specifiable set of sentences.
But surely it could be counterclaimed, an appeal to authorîty
need not involve inexact and inarticulable éléments. Consider
the case in which amateurs are involved in a cardinality dispute.
The one side puts forth the view that there can be only one in-
finite number, namely the number of ail the integers. The other
side demurs, citing the abundant reals. If in so doing the diag-
onal argument4 were advanced, then the argument could be
said to be settled by exact means and with aU necessary artic-
ulation. On the other hand, if it were merely pointed out that
Professor So-and-So, a mathematical whiz from Göttingen, had
given assurances that such a proof exists, then we hâve an
appeal to authority; but where is the intrinsic inexactness and
where the inarticulability? The key question hère is: Where is
the élément of authority? Professor So-and-So is an authority,
and his expertise extends to the domain of enquiry to which he
is privy, namely of the existence of the Cantorian diagonal proof,
is in fact by and large pretty much restricted to experts in his
field. However, it is of some importance to see that in asserting
the existence of such proofs, Professor So-and-So was not
exercising his expertise. He was speaking from what might be
called a special position to know, but it need not follow that
claims made from special positions to know are claims made
from expertise. A stranger who seeks, and receives, instructions
from a native Montrealer as to the location of Jarry Park does
not get an expert opinion, even if his benefactor is that city's
Chief Cartographer. An expert's opinion need not be an expert
Thus, if we allow ourselves a distinction between special
position claims and claims from expertise, it becomes not at all
unreasonable to seek out aspects or éléments of expert opinion
which make it expert, not just the view of an expert. And at
least this much seems clears: If a man, X, takes an expert's opin-
ion as a judgment from expertise, then as far as X is concerned,
there must be something about the case in question with which
the expert is expertly familiär, but the exact articulation of
which, if it exists, is unknown to X. Hence, if the expert were
the cleverest physicist in ali thè world, and if he proposed prop-
osition ρ and furnished for it a proof that no one else could
follow ( despite the fact that is was an exactly articulable proof
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for that expert), then the scientific community might nonethe-
less permit themselves the aeceptance of ρ on the authority of
that expert. If they did so decide, we would hâve a case in which
thè target of the objective évidence had to be foregone in favor
of the weaker considérations of authority. From the expert's point
of view it is as if he has spoken from a special position to know;
but for the rest of us it is as if he were speaking from special
expertise. Doubtless the distinctions we hère seek are not nearly
as well-behaved as one would like them to be. But certain gross
patterns do seem to be discernible.
Debate as to whether forms of argument are genuinely sci-
entific is not restricted to the fallacies. One has to think of the
perennial debate between "hard" and "soft" approaches to sci-
ence. Similar perturbations can be discerned within the meta-
theory of linguistics. Behavioral theorists are reluctant to admit
appeals to the intuitions of native speakers, whereas Chomsky
and others take the position that the resouroes of the so-called
"hard" sciences can be partially utilized in less exact explana-
tions without converting such explanations to those of "hard"
science and also without impeaching the explanations for their
failure to harden. It is a well-known conviction of Chomsky that
data in the form of introspective judgments of the native speaker
concerning well-formedness of sentences are actually what con-
stitute the subject matter for linguistic theory.5 To be sure, such
introspective data are not sacrosanct; they may be challenged
and evaluated by operational means familiär to the linguist. Yet
operational methods, it is claimed, are not themselves always
sufficient, and they may be overruled when they conflict with
an introspective judgment.
Reluctance to accept Chomsky's account of the rôle of intuition
in linguistics may stem from a kind of core positivism or be-
haviorism, in which it is usuai to put a premium on determin-
istic Systems and, correlatively, to eschew the loose, indeter-
ministic explanations of so-called (and misnamed) mentalism.
Yet it is increasingly recognized that deterministic explanations
are not typical of the practice of science, and that the irreducibly
stochastic explanations are characteristic of domains of enquiry
having a high degree of empirical content. Not only are their
concepts empirical and open-textured but relevant évidence may
be available which cannot be completely specified or articulated
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now or ever; hence these judgments will exhibit a formai struc-
ture that gives them a prédictive force even weaker than that of
thè more usuai type of stochastic laws. Rescher and Helmer6
argue that thè usuai deductive-nomological model of explanation
must not only be modified to allow for stochastic laws but also
to allow for what they cali "quasi-laws." A quasi-law is a sto-
chastic law that allows for exceptions by means of escape clauses
that are tacitly understood yet not fully articulated. In such con-
texts, if an exception does occur, an explanation accounting for
its exceptional character is available. According to Rescher and
Helmer, it would be hopelessly impractical in these contexts to
try to erect a theoretical structure similar to those in some more
exact areas of science amenable to axiomatic treatments. In their
view a properly pragmatic spirit, expressed in thè desire for
reasonable explanations and prédictions, should encourage and
endorse the use of quasi-laws. And if this should mean that the
aesthetic niceties of a formai theory must be foregone where
none is necessary or désirable, so much the worse for aesthetic
Thus, in linguistics we accommodate the concept of linguistic
compétence through appeals to native speakers, but because of
the inarticulable nature of this compétence the model of ex-
planation is not of thè usuai deductive or stochastic varieties.
Yet to discount such information for its not conforming to pre-
ferred scientific models of explanation is inconsistent with the
actual practice of linguistics. We also find explanations of the
quasi-law type in psychiatry, medicine, ecology, and elsewhere,
particularly in the applied sciences; and who will say that such
explanations are not scientific, objective, and rational? In the
case of diagnostic décisions in medicine, or of politicai and eco-
nomie décisions or command décisions in military affairs, it may
be very important to make a reasoned détermination on the
basis of évidence that cannot be rendered exhaustively in sen-
tential form and is not open to thè usuai data-processing tech-
niques. According to Rescher and Helmer, in assessing the prob-
ability of an hypothesis, H, we are often required to rely not
only upon a set of sentences, E, constituting the explicit évidence
relevant to the hypothesis, but also on a body of background
knowledge, K, which may be indefinite in content and not ex-
plicitly articulable in sentential form. This suggests the usefulness
of turning to methods based upon a reasoned appeal to expert
judgment rather than to methods which tolerate only thè usuai
formal concepts of confirmation.7 Whether such a course convicts
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one of unscientific reliance upon the nonobjectivity of appeals to
authority, or whether it recommends that our narrow, positivistic
or behavioristic criteria of objectivity be expanded in order to
make room for such forms of argument, it is a potentially fruit-
ful line of enquiry.
A preliminary Statement of the form of the ad verecundiam
argument has been provided by several authors. Rescher and
Helmer say that an expert in some subject matter is a rational
person who has a large background knowledge in that area and
whose express or implicit prédications in his personal probabil-
ities in that area show a record of comparative successes in the
long run. As Rescher and Helmer point out, expertise involves
a success factor which is relative to the prédictive performance
of which the average non-expert in the field would be capable.
They cite the example that in a temperate climate a lay pre-
dictor can establish an excellent record by always forecasting
good weather, but this would not support a claim to meteoro-
logical expertise.8
Hamblin proposes that the argument form
Everything X says is true.
X says that P.
Therefore, P.
is valid, and he observes that we could expect to find weaker,
but still not fallacious, forms of argument within which some
support is given to Ρ by premises of forms such as "X is an au-
thority on facts of type so-and-so," Hamblin opines that some
kind of calculus of testimony might be forthcoming and useful,
however impondérable the factors in practical cases.9
Salmon suggests that appeal to authority has the following
X is a reliable authority concerning P.
X asserts P.
Therefore, P.
Salmon observes that this form is not deductìvely valid, but that
it is, as he says, "inductively correct." It is, he believes, a special
case of the statistical syllogism which could be rewritten as
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The vast majority of Statements made by X concerning
subjects S are true.
Ρ is a Statement made by X concerning subject S.
Therefore, Ρ is true.10
To set thè stage for our évaluation of thèse suggestions re-
garding thè logicai form of thè ad verecundiam argument, let
us take a look at a number of considérations which typically
should be weighed in adjudicating cases of appeal to authority.
There are five main catégories into which such considérations
fall.11 It is our view that jointly they yield five conditions of
material adequacy for any account of thè argumentatively sound
appeal to authority.
AC 1. The authority must be interpreted correctly. In an ap-
peal to authority common pitfalls are misquotation, mis-docu-
mentation, or inadequate rendering of thè expert's expressed
judgment. Subtle changes in emphasis in phrasing can be very
important. If thè claim is in thè form of a direct quotation, it
must be quoted in proper context. De Morgan warns us of thè
following pitfalls in thè citing of sources (Formai Logic, 1847).
1. It is not uncommon, in disputation, to fall into thè fallacy
of making out conclusions for others by supplying missing
premises. One says that A is B; another will take for granted
that he must believe Β is C, and will therefore consider
him as maintaining that A is C (281).
2. . . . as to subjects in which men go in parties, it is not very
uncommon to take one premise from some individuale of
a party, another from others, and to fix thè logicai con-
clusions of thè two upon thè whole party: when perhaps
thè conclusion is denied by ali, some of whom deny thè
first premise by affirming thè second, while thè rest deny
thè second by afflrming thè first (281).
3. ... quotation is [not] obligatory, though highly désirable:
but thè reader must remember, when there is only citation,
that it is not thè author cited who speaks, but thè person
who brings him forward. . . . If thè citer be honest, thè
passage in question exists: if judicious, it is to thè effect
stated (282).
4. Perhaps thè greatest and most dangerous vice of thè day,
in thè matter of référence, is thè practice of citing cita-
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tions, and quoting quotations, as if they came from the
original sources, instead of being only copies.
5. Unjustifiable as unnoted omissions may be, stili more so
are additions and altérations (284).
6. Omissions of context, preceding or following the quotation,
may alter its character entirely: and this is one of the most
fréquent of the fallacies of référence, both intentional and
unintentional (285). 12
There is also the danger that an outdated expert opinion may
be cited. If the expert has changed his mind, an earlier verdict
loses much of its force. In other cases the appeal to authority
may be ruinously misleading if certain qualifications added by
the expert are omitted or suppressed. These factors are partic-
ularly important where the expert's probability-assessment is a
conditional one relative to certain contingencies. If thèse con-
tingencies are not preserved by the report of the expert's judg-
ment, the appeal fails. If the authority's judgment is delivered in
technical terminology, it may be required that it be rendered
into a more readily intelligible form. This can be especially
important where a panel of experts is attempting to make an
interdisciplinary prédiction. Injudicious technical jargon can
hâve a disruptive influence in such cases, yet it is also to be ex-
pected that many of the strikingly fallacious forais of the appeal
to authority trade on ambiguities, or vagueness, or misunder-
standing in the translation of technical terminology to a usable
AC 2. The authority must actually have special compétence
in an area and not simply glamor, prestige, or popuhrity. Many
of the appeals to authority typical of treatments in logic text-
books are cases which come under this heading. The difficulty
of deciding when a putative expert actually has the required
special compétence is not easily overemphasized. There are
many areas where it may be questionable whether there are any
genuine authorities. There will be other areas where the means
of evaluating the degree of expertise may be meagre and only
dimly understood. Even in those provinces where criteria of
special compétence may be relatively exact, there could yet be
cases where a décision on rating the degree of expert com-
pétence is difflcult. Some indices of compétence may be sug-
gested hère, but obviously they are not to be thought of as
standardized, nor is it very likely that an exact set of criteria
will be forthcoming in the near future. For ail its roughness, a
provisionai rating might be based on:
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i) Previous record of prédictions, as suggested by Rescher
and Helmer, and Salmon.
ii) Where a previous record of prédictions is not available,
we may have a record of hypothetical prédictions, that is,
some sort of test that thè purported expert may have under-
gone, that could indicate a rating of his degree of compé-
ìli) Access to a record of other sorts of qualifications in thè
forai of degrees, professional qualifications, testimony of
colleagues or other experts, or a record of familiarity with
thè area. The criteria, it is expected, will vary considerably
from area to area.
AC 3. The judgment of thè authority must actually he within
thè special field of compétence. The most blatant of thè f allacious
appeals to authority occur where a legitimate expert in a given
area makes a judgment that does not fall within it, but where
added credibility is given to his judgment simply by virtue of
his being an expert in some area. In many cases, particularly
interdisciplinary cases, it may be difficult to judge whether or
not a given sentence actually falls within a domain admitting or
calling for some particular kind of expertise. Many areas of ex-
pertise in which thè reasoned judgment of an expert is reason-
ably given a degree of credibility above that of a judgment of a
layman do not have well-defined criteria of expertise.
AC 4. Direct évidence must be avaüable in prìnciple. It is
reasonable to assume that for thè appeal to authority to be ade-
quate, thè authority must base his judgment on actual, relevant,
and objective évidence within thè area concerned. This évidence
need not be fully available; as we have previously said, it may
not even be exactly specifiable. But where there is doubt, thè
authority must give some évidence that his judgment is objec-
tively based. For example, if we have a panel of experts in a
given domain of expérience and thè judgment of some authority
on a certain question falls well outside thè range of consensus,
then in an évaluation of that particular judgment, évidence must
be made available for thè évaluation of thè other experts in-
volved. Similarly, where we have reason to believe that he may
not be trustworthy for one reason or another, then an évaluation
of the degree to which his judgment is based on relevant évi-
dence would be called for.
But it will be objected that we are inconsistent to press the
présent condition. How, it may be asked, can one square it with
the nonsentential aspect of an expert's inarticulable expertise
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that there must be objective supporting évidence? In answer,
the intent of this adequacy condition is to mark off, and approve
only one side of, a distinction between the judgment of an oo
cultist who happens to enjoy a distinguished track record, and
that of one who has genuinely expert knowledge.13 Let us be
clear in saying that we do not counsel against premises of the
form, "The ratio of successful prédictions to (a very very large
number of ) prédictions made by Madama Fortuna concerning
the weather is, astonishing though it may seem, very nearly
1002." It is a simple matter to concoct naturai sorts of contextsj
within which to embed such a premise and, with the aid of "And
Madama Fortuna predicts rain tomorrow," to conclude the wis-
dom of putting off thè picnic until the weather improves. But in
granting a measure of propriety to such an argument we do not
offer it as an argument to authority. In fact, we need concede to
Madama Fortuna no authority whatever in order to be moved by
the abnormally high statistical corrélation between her weather-
wisdom and how the weather actually turns out to be. What we
have here is not expertise (so far as one can tell) but a probabi-
listic connection whose statistical richness, though it amazes us
and leaves us bereit of an explanation of it, is there, to be used,
cautiously, and if need be.14
Appeals to authority focus squarely upon thè expertise of the
authority; they require an exercise of that expertise. As good an
example as any of how this expertise may be exercised is this:
any scientific theory worth its sait it under-determined by the
relevant data;15 hence all such théories essentially require the
use of analytical hypothèses, which fili them out and bear much
of their ontological weight. It is especially important to note that
any given body of data admits, in principle, of equally good
theorizations containing mutually incompatible analytical hy-
pothèses. How, then, should conflicts among rival analytical hy-
pothèses be adjudicated? Not, certainly, by appeal to direct
évidence, by appeal to the data. One aspect of the adjudication
procedure no doubt involves considérations of simplicity, co-
hérence with neighboring théories, and the like. But the adjudi-
cation does not proceed definitively; there is always a kind of
"leap of faith," for which we do, and are right to, turn to the
theorist's mere sensé of what is fitting and fruitful. Often this
sensé is an inexact and dimly perceived appréciation of, a cur-
rently inarticulable intuition16 of, what in time may be artic-
ulably recognized as a body of doctrine on which the évidence
does favorably bear. Objective évidence is always at hand, in
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principle, at least in thè sense that thè possibility can never be
foreclosed that data will emerge which, jointly with other already
acknowledged considérations, will occasion thè downfall of thè
expert judgment. In a word, then, thè demand that direct évi-
dence be available in principle is tantamount to thè requirement
that thè expert judgment hâve a certain semantic status, namely,
that it be in principle objectively testable.
An epistemological aspect of ad verecundiam arguments of
methodological importance is that such arguments are said to
be opinion-based. Dalkey writes that between knowledge and
spéculation there is a "broad area of material for which there is
some basis for belief but that is not suflìciently confirmed to
warrant being called knowledge"17 A common tendency is to
lump everything not dignified by thè title "objective knowledge"
into thè category of spéculation, something devoutly to be
avoided when engaged in scientiflc pursuits. It is this sort of
dichotomy that we urge résistance against. While there may be
an important sense in which opinion-based conclusions are "sub-
jective," we would point out that such conclusions are very
much a part of ongoing scientific practice, that they admit of
scientific treatment and characterization, and that in no event
are they simply to be equated with raw spéculation or random
guesswork. In f act, we see no compelling reason for supposing
that a judgment from expertise can never be knowledge. Is ali
knowledge objective knowledge?
AC 5. A consensus technique is required for adjudicating dis-
agreements among equally qualified authorìties. An obvious
problem with expert consultation is that authorities notoriously
disagree. Yet since two (or more) heads are better than one,
thè rational method, when he is f aced with disagreement, of one
obtaining thè required information (inconclusive though it may
be) is to make a consensus. In fact, a second consensus after
mutuai inspection of thè grounds of disagreement might even
hâve a convergence effect. The usefulness of establishing a
method for processes of consensus among experts has become
increasingly apparent recently, so much so that considérable
effort has been spent on thè development of techniques for this
purpose. Most notable have been thè efforts of Norman Dalkey
and others at thè Rand Corporation to develop thè so-called
Delphi technique on which we will have more to say below.18
On thè basis of thè above considération, it is suggested tenta-
tively that thè argument ad verecundiam may be said to have thè
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1. X is a reliable authority in domain K.
2. ρεΚ.
3. X asserts that p.
4. ρ is cohérent with relevant information obtained from
other factors.
.·. p.
For simplidty, we shall occasionally speak of this proposai
as thè "analysis of thè logicai structure of thè ad verecundiam,"
or, briefly, as the "analysis."
We will consider in order the premises of the analysis.
(a) First, in discussing the concept of a reliable authority we
must distinguish, though the distinction by no means exhausts
argument from authority, between a de facto authority and a
de jure authority. The realm of the de jure is performative: its
modality is deontic or anyhow not straightforwardly alethic. A
de jure authority is not an authority in virtue of being an expert
in a certain area; his authority is invested in him in titular
fashion, as with the clergyman who is authorized to perform the
marriage ceremony. If de jure pronouncements are to be con-
sidered argumentatively, they may be said to hâve the following
1. X has the de jure authority in domain K.
2. ρεΚ.
3. X déclares that p.
.·. p.
This form of argument appears to be deductive in the sensé
that it must be the case that given the premises PI to P3 the
conclusion obtains; saying makes it so. The case of the perfor-
mative saying so and making it so contrasts in interesting ways
with the other kinds of "sayso" conditions.
(i) There is the. case of the author who, in writing his novel,
seems to make certain things true of his character. The
analysis of the "sayso" situation in fiction is surprisingly
complicated and will not be gone into hère.19
(ii) A second kind of case is that of the token-reflexive in
which, e.g., someone says, "I can utter an English sen-
(iii) Yet a third sort of case is where the speaker seems to be
in a best-evidence situation with respect to his own inner
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states, as when a man says that he has a headache. It is at
this juncture we can begin to discern a clear line of pas-
sage from de jure authority to de facto authority For in
saying that I have a headache I do not bring it about that
this is so; rather I report that it is so under circumstances
of familiarity and access which require another's doubts
about reliability to be bold ones. In fact, it may seem to
some that in this kind of case we have thè paradigm of
thè impeccable, though deductively invalid, appeal to
authority. We shall return to this point below.
De facto arguments from authority are non-deductive yet
alethic. It is interesting to observe thè contrast between de facto
and de jure appeals to authority because it is often in a confu-
sion between thè two that f allacious arguments arise. Historically
it has not been uncommon, in giving sanction to décisions, to
invest certain sources with infallibility and finality. Politicai
and, in particular, religious authority has been used in this
fashion to suppress heretical, disloyal, or radical opinions. It is
important, therefore, to reiterate that in a. de facto appeal to
authority, a criterion of special alethic compétence must be met.
Another considération, earlier discussed under adequacy con-
dition 4, is that in principle évidence must be available to thè
expert. Thus, a genuine expert will be expected, to a reasonable
extent, to présent and explain thè évidence on which his judg-
ment was based.
The domain Κ in which thè expert has special knowledge
must be at least roughly delimitable. Many a fallacious appeal
to authority is made when thè domain Κ of thè judgment ap-
pealed to is not an area in which we might reasonably expect
an expert's word to be better than a layman's. A very contentious
case is that of moral expertise.20 In thè Meno, Socrates asks
whether there could ever be moral experts and whether virtue
could be taught. We might reasonably question whether there
can be such a thing as a moral authority, whether moral judg-
ments of a magistrate, a priest, a politician, or a philosopher are
to be given greater weight than those of a layman. In generai,
appeals to a moral or a valuative expert tend to be regarded
as fallacious instances of thè appeal to authority. Similarly, it
might be debatable whether there can be genuine appeals to
authority in matters of aesthetic discrimination. Of course, if
morality is, as it is so often said, as such, incapable of supporting
objective, reproducible judgments of any kind, so that there is
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an important sensé in which such matters do not admit of thè
usuai range of positive epistemic modalities (e.g. "known," "more
reasonably believed than withheld," etc. ) then they straightaway
become irrelevant to our concern. We suspect that thè skepti-
cism with which thè idea of moral expertise is met, at least thè
idea of secular moral expertise, is but a trivial reflection of this
generai skepticism about moral knowledge.
(b) Premise P2 can be considered in thè light of adequacy
condition 3. A judgment ρ must actually be within thè special
field of compétence. There will, in generai, be nothing like a
décision procedure here, and whether or not P2 obtains will be
decided largely on thè basis of how domain Κ is specified.
(e) As for P3, we may look back to adequacy condition 1.
The authority must actually have asserted ρ at some time. The
report that thè expert's opinion is that ρ must be interpreted
correctly, as previously mentioned. P3 is violated when thè asser-
tion is wrenched from context, distorted, exaggerated, or falsely
attributed to X, thè authority. An interesting case here is where
ρ has never actually been asserted by X but where X has asserted
q, and q logically implies p. Another case is thè one where X
clearly would assert ρ, even if he has not at any time actually
had occasion to do so. Such complications may counsel an
amendment of P3; and further research may indicate that P3
needs an endorsation-condition a good deal more complicated
than that of mere assertion.
(d) Happily, P4 is somewhat more amenable to exact treat-
ment than the other three premises. In fact, it appears to corres-
pond fairly well to a known empirical technique, the so-called
Delphi technique. The Delphi technique is a method for the
systematic solicitation and collation of informed judgments on
a topic. Delphi procedure is a set of sequential questionnaires
interspersed with summarized information and opinion feedback
derived from earlier responses.21 The purpose of the Delphi
technique is to prevent professional status and high position
from forcing judgments in certain directions, as frequently occurs
when panels of experts meet. The intention is to ensure that
changes in estimâtes reflect rational judgment rather than the
influence of opinion leaders and trend setters.22
In a Delphi, each member of a panel of experts in an area is
asked to submit in writing his individuai responses to questions;
then the responses are made available to ail respondents, and
any responses that have fallen outside a certain range (often the
interquartile range, the interval containing the middle 50$ of
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responses) elicit requests for justification or évidence. Next, a
further round of responses is collated in an attempt to cause
convergence of opinions in thè sense of reducing thè spread of
opinion. This technique is regarded not as a substitute for, but
as an adjunct to, face-to-face panel discussion.23
According to Helmer,24 a convenient consensus formula ap-
plicable whenever the solicited judgments can be cast in numer-
ical form (or linearly ordered) is to use the médian. A variant of
the simple médian is a weighted médian giving more than one
vote to the opinions of experts whose judgments objectively de-
serve preferential treatment. Self-assigned compétence scores
may justify such differential weights. In addition to a consensus
it may be désirable to hâve an indication of the spread of opin-
ions among the experts; that i$, we may state the interquartile
range of their responses.
The proposed analysis is best regarded as a tentative sugges-
tion that gives us a preliminary basis for organizing the factors
to which weight must be given in deciding how to rate the de-
gree of credibility of a particular appeal to authority. It would
be overly sanguine to expect that such issues will be settled either
definitively or soon. Yet this attempt to specify thè logicai form
of the de facto ad verecundiam may be regarded as a stimulus to
further research.
In appeals to authority our data are judgments delivered by
an expert. These we evaluate in an attempt to obtain access to
information to which we would otherwise hâve no access and
to which he himself may hâve only an intuitive access. Thus the
appeal to authority is essentially a two-person ( or what we might
cali a dialectic) form of reasoning. For example, the Delphi tech-
nique involves at least two separate groups of individuals and
at least four rôles for thèse groups.
First, we hâve thè User Body: the individuai or individ-
uals expecting from the exercise some sort of product
which is useful to their purposes.
Second, we hâve the Design and Monitor Team (some-
times separate groups): the group which designs the initial
questionnaire, summarizes the returns, and redesigns the
follow-on questionnaires.
Third, we hâve the Respondent Group: the group chosen
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to respond to the questionnaires. This may sometimes be
thè user body, or thè user body may be a subset of the
respondent group.25
The argument forms in logic and in models of explanation fa-
miliar to philosophers of science are what we might cali mono-
lectic. They are objective in the traditional sensé, in that they
do not involve essential référence to other persons within the
compass or logicai structure of the given explanation or argu-
ment; but in thè area of logicai fallacies, we hâve many argu-
ments that are irreducibly dialectic, two-person, or even n-
person, for manageably large n. In this respect, fallacies con-
cerned with the concept of the bürden of proof such as ad ignor-
antiam are especially notable. Where we hâve a debate or a
dialectical situation between two persons, if X asserts p, it is
quite reasonable for Y to respond: "What is your évidence or
reason for asserting ρ?" Χ may wish to respond with évidence
or may respond that he was not really asserting ρ, but was tak-
ing some other modal stance towards p, such as, say, assuming
ρ or provisionally entertaining p. In a protracted debate (one
thinks, for example, of Identity Theory disputes in philosophy)
questions of the bürden of proof may become very acute, very
important for settling the outcome of the debate. The current
neglect of such important considérations may be partly due to
the fact that logic has evolved primarily on a monolectical basis,
with the perhaps unintended conséquence that the languages
and techniques of standard logics are not adequate for basically
dialectical situations. This may suggest an entire restructuring
of the concept of argument. Instead of the monolectical arrange-
ment of a set of premises and a conclusion, we might also con-
sider models for arguments such as ad verecundiam that are
essentially dialectical.26
It ought to be stressed that such opinion-based arguments as
the appeal to authority are, though not illegitimate, no substitute
for a direct appeal to évidence where such direct access is avail-
able. Reliance upon expertise is not a substitute for direct évi-
dence, but it does very much appear that it is an indispensable
adjunct to the reasonable and enlightened use of direct évi-
dence. It is plausibly conjectured, of course, that as direct access
to data becomes available the appeal to authority diminishes in
respectability. On the other hand, with the increasing growth
of specialized knowledge and the resulting decrease of universal
access to what is known, it would seem dogmatic, to the point of
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All use subject to
truculence, not to recognize a proper rôle in argument for ad
verecundiam. Having rid ourselves of a narrow, positivistic con-
cept of thè scope of scientific method, by which explanations per-
fectly typical of actual practice in thè applied sciences are to be
jettisoned, it becomes transparent that thè systematic study of
fallacies is an imperative for thè theory of argument.
We turn now to a brief considération of this question: "Is it or
is it not thè case that first person judgments about one's own
inner expérience constitute a paradigm of thè non-f allacious ap-
peal to authority?" We may say at once that adequacy con-
ditions 1, 2, and 3 are clearly to be complied with by any good
account of thè acceptability of first person judgments of inner
expérience; that is, for one to rely upon such disclosures they
should be correctly interpreted, thè speaker must actually have
thè first-person compétence in question, and his disclosure must
not fall outside thè special compétence of thè speaker. And it
would also appear that normally condition 5 is met, for who shall
compete with a man on questions of that man's firsthand expéri-
ence of his inner Me? But what shall we say of condition 4, of
thè condition that direct évidence must in principle be available?
There is a strong epistemological tradition according to which
expérience of one's inner states is direct évidence, in fact thè
best évidence one could ever want. If this is a correct view, then
it seems that we must say that such cases are paradigmatic not
of judgments from expertise but knowledge from a special posi-
tion.27 On thè other hand, there is another epistemological tra-
dition according to which one's expérience of one's inner states
is so decisive as to make ali talk of its being évidence grotesquely
overstated. In neither event, theref ore, does an appeal to a report
of X's expérience of his inner states seem to be an appeal to X's
expertise. We say it seems so to us; but we are a good deal more
confident in saying that thèse and related questions will benefit
from further attention.
Finally, we conclude with thè observation that thè intuitive
notion of authority, in a sensé relevant to thè ad verecundiam,
does not seem wholly to be captured by thè idea of thè judg-
ment from expertise. Although expertise may be said to be in-
vested with a kind of authority, its authority is ultimately thè
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authority of knowledge, with expertise serving as évidence of
knowledgability. But there is also in the concept of authority an
aspect which is consistent with not the présence but the absence
of knowledge, as when in the Common Law the existence of a
précèdent is given extraordinary weight. Understood one rather
stark way, the Common Law regularly commits the howler of
supposing that past décisions are, just so, good and binding dé-
cisions, and the greater howler yet, of supposing that a précèdent
décision that something is so implies indeed that it is so. Yet it is
not our habit to judge the Law to be as intellectually bankrupt
as all that, and it is useful to ponder why this is so. In its barest
essentials the Law is unique among our practices and institutions
for the degree to which it is permitted to serve as a secular
model of infallibility. The Law créâtes its own truth, engenders
its own judicial reality. And what is peculiar to the Law's knowl-
edge of judicial reality is that it does not need to be determined
by any independently verifiable fact about naturai reality, that
is to say, about reality. Presumably we think it is sometimes ap-
propriate or anyhow not irrational to repose our trust in institu-
tional mechanisms for the truths that they, as it were, create for
us, not discover. If the Law is paramount or the most obvious
among such mechanisms, it is hardly likely that truth-creation,
as we might cali it, is unique to it. It occurs to us that truth-
creation is a factor in any serious theorizing and is also présent
among the sundry practicalities of everyday life. What this sug-
gests is that in the not irrational acquiescence in such truth-
creation we hâve an important parallel to the legitimate appeal
to authority. Needless to say, thè ultimate sanction, if there is
one, for the metaphor of truth-creation is a deep and comprehen-
sive epistemology.
1 Augustus De Morgan, Formal Logic (London: Taylor and Walton,
1847), p. 237. _ _ _____
2 As Aristoüe recognized in Rhetoric, 1398b, 18.
3 The language of the évidence/ expert testimony contrast is unfortunate
for it may suggest, for example, that hère can be no question of their being
reliable expert testimony as to what in fact is the évidence, as in forensic
medicine or criminology. Still, we shall suppose the intended distinction
to be clear enough for our présent purposes and shall not here seek an
improved means of expressing it.
4 The diagonal proof is itself attended by a metamathematical contro·
versy. The above example, therefore, is best understood as relative to those
for whom diagonalization is not at issue.
δ Ν. Chomsky, Current Issues in Linguistic Theory (The Hague:
Mouton, 1967).
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β Olaf Helmer and Nicholas Rescher, 'On thè Epistemology of the In-
exact Sciences," Management Science, 6:1 (October, 1959), 25-52.
7 This is not to say, of course, that the standard canons of confirmation
could not be used to confirm that the intuition of an expert is on the whole
8 Helmer and Rescher, p. 34.
9 C.L. Hamblin, FaUacies (London: Methuen & Co., Ltd., 1970), p.
10 Wesley C. Salmon, Logic (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall,
Inc., 1963), p. 64.
11 Ibid., see Sahnon's discussion pp. 63-67.
12 To avoid the very pitfalls they describe, 1.-6. have been directly
quoted from De Morgan.
18 Not to be over-severe on occultism, let us understand that our occult-
ist is a lucky and (very) minor fraud. His prédictions lack a logos; he is
privately as thunderstruck by his prédictive record as everyone else.
14 Thus it would seem that even thè gross logicai form of a correct argu-
ment from authority is not quite captured by Salmon's statistical syllogism
noted above, p. 140-141.
15 See various well-known writings of Quine. It is worth noting that it
is not necessary for the point at hand to accept Quine's account of théories
as such; it suffices that some théories are underdetermined by thè data and
require extrapolation via the theorist's intuitive expertise.
16 Thus, by "intuitions" we mean pre-analytic judgments or beliefs not
normally supported by appeal to explicit criteria.
17 Norman C. Dalkey, The Delphi Method: An Expérimental Study of
Group Opinion, The Rand Corporation, RM,5888-PR, June 1969, p. 2.
18 The Delphi technique is not, of course, without its critics. See, for
example, William Irwin Thompson, At the Edge of History, Chapter 5. See
the following as well as op. cit., note 17. The Delphi Method II: Structure
of Experiments, Β. Brown, S. Cochran and N. Dalkey, RM-5957-PR, June
1969. The Delphi Method III: Use of Self Ratings to Improve Group Esti-
mâtes, N. Dalkey, B. Brown and S. Cochran, RM-6115-PR, November 1969.
The Delphi Method IV: Effects of Percentile Feedback and Feed-In of
Relevant Facts, N. Dalkey, B. Brown and S. Cochran, RM-6118-PR, March
1970. Delphi Process: A Methodology Used for the Elicitation of Opinions
of Experts, Bernice B. Brown, Rand Corporation, P-3925, September 1968.
19 The interested reader may wish to consult some récent works by John
Woods, e.g., The Logic of Fiction: A Philosophical Sounding of Déviant
Logics (The Hague: Mouton, forthcoming).
20 Vide Peter Singer, "Moral Experts," Analysis, 32:4 (March 1972),
21 Murray Turoff, "The Design of a Policy Delphi," Technical Memo-
randum TM-123. National Resources Analysis Center, Systems Evaluation
Division, February 1970, p. 1.
22 W. Timothy Weaver, "The Delphi Forecasting Method," in Phi Delta
Kappan, January 1971.
23 The Delphi has other applications and has received its widest usage
in technological forecasting. Ibid., p. 2.
24 Olaf Helmer, Social Technology (New York and London: Basic
Books, Inc., 1966), p. 17.
2 δ Weaver, op. cit., p. 2.
2 β See for example Hamblin, op. cit., Chapters 7 and 8; cf. John Woods
and Douglas Walton, "On Fallacies," forthcoming in The Journal of Criticai
27 A distinction noted above, p. 137.
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... In particular, rhetoric and argumentation studies can offer insights into how expertise and experiential knowledge function within deliberative mini-publics. Arguments from technical expertise are examples of argumentum ad verecundiam, or ' appeal to authority' (Walton 1997; see also Woods & Walton 1974). Such arguments are located in what Goodnight (1982: 220) refers to as the 'technical sphere', a mode of discourse relying on 'specialized forms of reasoning' with 'more limited rules of evidence, presentation, and judgment [sic]' found in expert interlocutors. ...
... Such appeals must be evaluated through their contexts, separating 'special position claims and claims from expertise', which requires assessing the ' aspects or elements of expert opinion which make it expert, not just the view of an expert' (Woods & Walton 1974: 137, emphasis in original). Even while recognizing specific conditions for valid argumentum ad verecundiam, Woods and Walton (1974) postulate that expertise might best be validated through ' dialectical' arrangements, wherein a second interlocutor group responds to the claims made by the expert(s). This contextualizes technical argumentation within a public sphere of argument (Goodnight 1982). ...
... The argumentation and evidence invoked on environmental and health issues prioritized scientific expertise in the deliberative process, sometimes without questioning its relationship to local experiences of the past, and local application of the future. This sort of argument has been criticized as fallacious due to its lack of critical perspective (Woods & Walton 1974), as well as problematic for democratic engagement (Majdik & Keith 2011). When expertise goes uncontextualized, the appeals fall victim to inference rather than reasoning, assuming that because experts offer evidence, the information is true and actionable. ...
Full-text available
When addressing socio-scientific wicked problems, there is a need to negotiate across and through multiple modes of evidence, particularly technical expertise and local knowledge. Democratic innovations, such as deliberative citizens’ juries, have been proposed as a means of managing these tensions and as a way of creating representative, fairer decision making. But there are questions around participatory processes, the utilization of expertise, and deliberative quality. This paper considers forms of argumentation in the 2013-2014 “Citizens’ juries on wind farm development in Scotland.” Through a critical-interpretative research methodology drawing on rhetoric and argumentation, we demonstrate that arguments relating to the topoi of the environment and health functioned as de facto reasoning, whereas arguments using social scientific evidence around economics more prominently interacted with local knowledge. The findings offer implications for process design to improve and promote deliberative quality in mini-publics and other forms of participatory engagement on socio-scientific issues.
... The conception expressed in these and other popular definitions of fallacies is summarized by the acronym EAUI (Woods 2013): on this view, fallacies are supposed to be inferential errors (E) that are attractive (A), universal (U), and incorrigible (I)— because, if they were corrigible, at some point people would stop committing them, yet fallacy theorists are convinced fallacies are as frequent nowadays as they ever were. 9 8 Non-ecological argument technologies may still be very valuable for dedicated purposes, e.g., education, and may even provide guidance on how to design more productive and sustainable platforms and tools. ...
... An echo of this line of work can be found in recent attempts to articulate more nuanced versions of fallacy theory, which will be discussed in Section 2.2 (see also Boudry et al. 2015; Paglieri 2016). The EAUI conception of fallacies have often attracted criticism, both in the past (Massey 1981; Finocchiaro 1981; Hintikka 1987; Hitchcock 1995; van Eemeren and Grootendorst 1995) and in recent years (Woods 2013; Boudry et al. 2015; Paglieri 2016), yet it remains prominent in the literature, and it certainly inspires the treatment of fallacies in most logic textbooks, where the most common, quick-and-dirty definition of fallacies is " an argument that seems to be valid but it is not. " What matters for present purposes is not whether the standard EAUI conception of fallacies is satisfactory but rather the assumption on human rationality upon which that conception is based: defining fallacies as frequent mistakes of reasoning implies a view of laypeople as highly defective arguers. ...
... As discussed at length elsewhere (Boudry et al. 2015; Paglieri 2016), contemporary studies on fallacy theory can be seen as an attempt to be more discriminating in launching accusation of fallacious reasoning against arguers: scholars from different traditions have come to realize that so-called fallacies often do not instantiate any actual reasoning error and thus do not deserve such a pejorative label—although the label itself is still widely used, somewhat paradoxically. Detailed theories on how to distinguish between actual fallacies and their legitimate cousins have been proposed for a garden variety of so-called informal fallacies, such as ad hominem (van Eemeren and Grootendorst 1992; Walton 1998; Mizrahi 2010), ad baculum (Woods 1998; Levi 1999; Walton 2000), ad verecundiam (Woods and Walton 1974; Mackenzie 1980; Walton 1997; Goodwin 1998), and ad ignorantiam arguments (Woods and Walton 1978; Walton 1992 Walton , 1999), among others. In spite of their differences, all these approaches have in common the intuition that the same superficial argument structure may or may not result in fallacious reasoning. ...
Full-text available
In spite of significant research efforts, argument technologies do not seem poised to scale up as much as most commentators would hope or even predict. In this paper, I discuss what obstacles bar the way to more widespread success of argument technologies and venture some suggestions on how to circumvent such difficulties: doing so will require a significant shift in how this research area is typically understood and practiced. I begin by exploring a much broader yet closely related question: To what extent are people natively good at arguing? This issue has always been central to philosophical reflection and it has become even more urgent nowadays, with the explosion of persuasive technologies and unprecedented opportunities for large-scale social influence. The answer hinges on what aspect of argumentation is taken under consideration: evidence suggests that people are relatively bad at analyzing the structure of arguments, especially when these are presented out of context and in abstract terms; in contrast, data show that even laymen tend to excel in the interactive practice of argumentation, in particular when motivation is high and something significant is at stake. Unfortunately, current argument technologies are more closely tailored to the former type of activity than to the latter, which is the main reason behind their relative lack of success with the general public. Changing this state of affair will require a commitment to ecological argument technologies: that is, technologies designed to support real-time, engaging and meaningful argumentative interactions performed by laypeople in their ordinary life, instead of catering to the highly specific needs of a minority of niche users (typically, argumentation scholars).
... Although interest in fallacies diminished as logical theory from the late nineteenth-century forward turned more and more to axiomatic systems and formal languages, in the second half of the twentieth century interest in fallacies returned as philosophers realised the uncomfortable fit between formal logic and natural language reasoning and argumentation. Walton was part of this revival, publishing a string of works on fallacies including [111,112] and [107] amongst numerous others. Many fallacies have the form of a deductive argument, premises followed by conclusion, but they are not sound in that their premises may be true and yet their conclusion false. ...
... An example of a fallacy is the ad verecundiam fallacy [111] which concerns appeals to authority or expertise. This fallacy can be expressed as an argument of the following form: ...
Full-text available
In this paper we describe the impact that Walton’s conception of argumentation schemes had on AI and Law research. We will discuss developments in argumentation in AI and Law before Walton’s schemes became known in that community, and the issues that were current in that work. We will then show how Walton’s schemes provided a means of addressing all of those issues, and so supplied a unifying perspective from which to view argumentation in AI and Law.
... Traditionally, arguments from authority were considered informal arguments, but since the important work of Charles Hamblin (Hamblin, 1970) many attempts to provide a form for them have been done. The most convincing of them is the presumptive form developed by Douglas Walton and John Woods (Woods and Watson, 1974) that aims at taking into account the relevant contextual aspects in assessing the provisional validity of an appeal to authority. The soundness of an appeal depends on its meeting the adequacy conditions set to scrutinize all the relevant questions. ...
... To solve these problems, John Woods and Douglas Walton (Woods and Watson, 1974, p. 150) suggest that a presumptive form would be more helpful to understand the nature of appeal to authority argument. ...
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Appeals to authority have a long tradition in the history of argumentation theory. During the Middle Age they were considered legitimate and sound arguments, but after Locke’s treatment in the Essay Concerning Human Understanding their legitimacy has come under question. Traditionally, arguments from authority were considered informal arguments, but since the important work of Charles Hamblin (Hamblin, 1970) many attempts to provide a form for them have been done. The most convincing of them is the presumptive form developed by Douglas Walton and John Woods (Woods, Walton, 1974) that aims at taking into account the relevant contextual aspects in assessing the provisional validity of an appeal to authority. The soundness of an appeal depends on its meeting the adequacy conditions set to scrutinize all the relevant questions. I want to claim that this approach is compatible with the analysis of arguments in terms of relevance advanced by David Hitchcock (Hitchcock, 1992). He claims that relevance is a triadic relation between two items and a context. The first item is relevant to the second one in a given context. Different types of relevance relation exist, namely causal relevance and epistemic relevance. “Something is [causally] relevant to an outcome in a given situation if it helps to cause that outcome in the situation” (Hitchcock, 1992, p. 253), whereas it is epistemically relevant when it helps to achieve an epistemic goal in a given situation. I claim that we can adapt this conception to Walton and Krabbe’s theory of dialogue type (Walton, Krabbe, 1995), seeing the items of a relevance relation as the argument and its consequence and the context as the type of dialogue in which these arguments are advanced. According to this perspective, an argument from authority that meets the adequacy conditions has to be considered legitimate because it is an epistemically relevant relation. Therefore, my conclusion is that an analysis of appeals to authority in terms of relevance can be a useful tool to establish fallaciousness or legitimacy of such a kind of argument even within the established paradigm of argumentation theory.
... The evidencing practice of Experts/Authorities also includes references to external experts (Kinnebrock et al., 2019). In argumentation theory, this practice is mirrored in arguments "ad verecundiam" (see Woods & Walton, 1974). According to Barnes et al. (2020), such arguments include appeals to source quantity, an argument for or against a scientific claim based on the number of people agreeing or disagreeing with it. ...
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The Covid‐19 pandemic has been accompanied by an excess of accurate and inaccurate information (infodemic) that has prevented people from finding reliable guidance in decision‐making. Non‐professional but popular science communicators —some with a political agenda—supply the public with scientific knowledge regarding Covid‐19. This kind of communication represents a worrisome force in societal discourses on science‐related political issues. This article explores online content (N = 108 articles) of two popular German “alternative news” media (NachDenkSeiten and PI News) that present and evaluate biomedical research concerning Covid‐19. Using thematic analysis, we investigated how scientific evidence was presented and questioned. Regarding the theoretical background, we drew on the concept of “evidencing practices” and ideas from argumentation theory. More specifically, we studied the use of the following three evidencing and counterevidencing practices: references to Data/Methods, references to Experts/Authorities, and Narratives. The results indicate that the studied alternative news media generally purport to report on science using the same argumentation mechanisms as those employed in science journalism in legacy media. However, a deeper analysis reveals that argumentation directions mostly follow preexisting ideologies and political agendas against Covid‐19 policies, which leads to science coverage that contradicts common epistemic authorities and evidence. Finally, we discuss the possible implications of our findings for audience views and consider strategies for countering the rejection of scientific evidence.
... All CQs are nevertheless necessary for an authority argument to be evaluated, which particularly requires criteria for the symptomatic relation between 'A E asserts P' and 'P is true' (CQ-2.3) to hold necessarily. A useful starting point are the following criteria C1 to C6 (Walton, 1989; see Woods & Walton, 1974;Woods & Walton, 1982;Walton, 1985). ] The sixth requirement is that the expert's sayso must be correctly interpreted. ...
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Authority arguments generate support for claims by appealing to an agent’s authority status, rather than to reasons independent of it. With few exceptions, the current literature on argument schemes acknowledges two basic authority types. The epistemic type grounds in knowledge, the deontic type grounds in power. We review how historically earlier scholarship acknowledged an attractiveness-based and a majority-based authority type as equally basic type. Crossing these with basic speech act types thus yields authority argument sub-schemes. Focusing on the epistemic-assertive sub-scheme (‘an epistemic authority AE asserts a proposition P’), we apply a meta-level approach to specifying critical questions. Results improve the evaluation of this sub-scheme and show how similar improvements are obtainable for other schemes.
... but this appeal need not involve any sort of enthusiasm and therefore lacks an emotive element of the ad populum. 4 This theme is further developed in Woods and Walton (1974). 5 See Woods and Walton (1976a). ...
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The traditional informal fallacy of argumentum ad populum is standardly characterized as the fallacy committed by directing an emotional appeal to the feelings or enthusiasms of "the gallery" or "the people" to win assent to an argument not adequately supported by proper evidence. What is thereby characterized certainly finds the mark in pointing up a widespread ethical deficiency of advertising practices and a quotidian rhetorical shortcoming familiar in many aspects of public affairs. But is it a fallacy? Specifically what is wrong, as a deficiency of correct argument, with appealing to popular enthusiasm? And if this appeal can be a fallacy, exactly what manner of argument is it that is thought to be incorrect? In other words, exactly what is meant in this context by the phrase "not adequately supported by proper evidence"? These are hard questions, but they need to be asked. We are told by a certain hamburger chain that not buying their product is virtually an affront to patriotic clean living, cheerful i ndustrious dedication, and happy family togetherness. Wouldn't it be better if this commercial time were allocated to giving rational evidence that the food they sell is a good value or has arguable nutritional advantages? We are told by an oil company that nature is beautiful. Wouldn't it be better if this time were used to offer some rational assurance that this company is not destroying nature, or is at least contributing in some way to the quality of our lives? If so, then the question should be asked whether a fallacy has been committed, that is-whether there is an incorrect argument-or whether the deficiency is a breach of advertising ethics, or is some impropriety other than a failure of correct argument. But if the alleged inadequacy is in the argument itself, in its very logic, then our second question must be addressed. What precisely is the error? Is it an identifiable fallacy that admits of analysis and the determination of rational guidelines for adjudication? These questions are worth asking not only because of the widespread seriousness of the ad populum and
El presente trabajo ofrece respuesta a las réplicas planteadas a mi trabajo “El diseño normativo de las pruebas periciales, a propósito del razonamiento inferencial de los expertos y la comprensión judicial”, realizadas por Florencia Rimoldi y Rachel Herdy. Como el título señala, básicamente refiero aquí a la división del trabajo cognitivo que hay (o debería haber) cuando analizamos las pruebas periciales de manera amplia y que implica no solo a los jueces, sino a las partes, los peritos que participan en el proceso judicial y las comunidades expertas a las que estos pertenecen.
El texto aborda el vínculo argumentativo que se establece en la relación médico-paciente y elabora un análisis con el propósito de evaluar el modo en que el argumento que apela a la autoridad o argumento ad verecundiam puede llevar a prácticas médicas no deseables cuando se incurre en una falsa autoridad. Acorde con lo anterior, el texto presenta dos momentos, de una parte, expone las características del argumento ad verecudiam y su lugar en el entorno médico; y por otra parte, elucida los criterios argumentativos mediante los cuales se afecta la relación médico-paciente que conlleva consecuencias valorativas sobre la autoridad médica.
Wir gehen der Frage nach, ob – ähnlich wie bei privaten Kaufentscheidungen - eine Marken-Heuristik auch bei (wirtschafts-)politischen Einstellungen eine Rolle spielt: Haben Politikernamen oder Parteien Markencharakter? In einem Surveyexperiment konfrontieren wir unsere Probanden mit Zitaten von bekannten Politikerinnen und Politikern und fragen, inwieweit die Probanden diesen Statements zustimmen. Wir verwenden zwei Treatments, eines ohne Nennung der Urheber und eines mit. Die Nennung der Urheber beeinflusst die Zustimmung zu den Statements, wenn diese sich auf Allokationsfragen beziehen. Bei Fragen zu Gerechtigkeits- und Verteilungsfragen hingegen finden wir keinen Urhebernennungseffekt.
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The policy delphi is a specific design to address a policy issue that has many alternative resolutions to the solution of the policy issue. It starts with a literature search to establish all the different published resolutions of the policy or recommend ones. The paper describes how the respondents to the Delphi should vote on the different resolutions for desirability and feasible. Any respondent can mage positive or negative comments about the issue and anyone can vote on any of these comments for the true or false measure and the feasibility measure as well. Participants may change (at any time) their votes at any time due to the contributions of the participants. Ideally this is done online and may be entered at any time for any participant and the system shows the user new items or new vote values they have not seen. The user may also review any part of the delphi they wish to see at that time. They may also introduce at any time new policy resolutions and new comments. The published paper has an example topic. It can be done as an mailed set of rounds also but it does make it harder to make a lot of dynamic changes to earlier rounds.
This report describes the results of an extensive set of experiments, conducted at RAND, concerned with evaluating the effectiveness of the Delphi procedures for formulating group judgements. The study represents a small beginning in the field of research that could be called ‘opinion technology’, and is of direct relevance for the use of experts as advisers in decision making, especially in areas of broad or long-range policy formulation.
see Sahnon's discussion pp
  • Ibid
Ibid., see Sahnon's discussion pp. 63-67.
On Fallacies," forthcoming in The Journal of Criticai Analysis. 27 A distinction noted above
  • See
  • Op Cit Hamblin
  • John Woods
  • Douglas Walton
β See for example Hamblin, op. cit., Chapters 7 and 8; cf. John Woods and Douglas Walton, "On Fallacies," forthcoming in The Journal of Criticai Analysis. 27 A distinction noted above, p. 137.