In Defence of a Fallacy


sophistical refutations
affirming the consequent



In light of recent developments in argumentation theory, we begin by considering the account that Aristotle gives of what he calls sophistical refutations (elenchoi sophistikoi) and of the usefulness of being able to recognise various species of them. His diagnosis of one of his examples of the grouping that he labels epomenon is then compared with a very recent account of the matter, which, like Aristotle, calls on us to attribute a mistake or confusion to anyone who uses this kind of argument. From examination of three other examples that Aristotle himself supplies of epomenon, it appears that there are cases of inferences of this kind that we need not, and perhaps cannot, avoid making. The suggestion is made that this is because the whole family of what Peirce calls abductions have important characteristics in common with epomenon.



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