Synopsis

Despite the fact that the field of empirical logic is gaining momentum, the title of this volume may well raise some eyebrows. For many people, logic still counts as the paradigm of an a priori discipline. To them the very concept of an empirical logic may seem odd, or even contradictory. Some explanation is in order.

There is no doubt that logic has been a thriving discipline in the twentieth century. We shall not here recapitulate its development, but it is clear that over the years logic has become more technical and more abstract. Its applications have been and still are found primarily in the areas of linguistics, mathematics, and computer science. But in no way do these applications exhaust the potential inherent in the logical point of view. In 1985 E.M. Barth announced the need for an ‘empiricist cultural re-orientation’ in logic. ‘As a matter of crude fact,’ she wrote, ‘neither mathematical logic in the narrower sense nor the new “philosophical logic” has ever led to nontrivial systematic contributions to the understanding and subsequent improvement of the models of thought and of argument that are found in the polis.’ (E.M. Barth, “A New Field: Empirical Logic. Bioprograms, Iogemes and Logics as Institutions.” Synthese 63, 375-388, p. 377) For this, empirical studies of real arguments, real debates, of their conceptual structures, and of the logical cultures in which they are embedded, form a prerequisite.

One may wonder whether the study of real arguments and real debates is not more a matter for the sociology of power than for logic. Certainly, whenever there is much at stake in a public debate, power politics and private interests are patently influential. Therefore, it is entirely proper to study the use of arguments from a political and from a sociological point of view. However, the suitability of a social science approach to argument does not in the least derogate from the importance of logical pursuits. On the contrary, if logical matters, as they arise in real life debates, are neglected, one is deprived of the opportunity of reaching a reasonably argued and critical position on the matter at issue.

As Barth has pointed out, however, logic, as a field, often leaves one in the dark where real arguments are concerned. This evinces a serious cultural want. To supply this want, logicians should cooperate with other specialists (linguists, psychologists, philosophers) to broach empirical studies of recent and past discussions and of arguments actually deployed. In this one does not have to start from scratch: there is growing evidence that the study of logic is capable of yielding serious contributions to the study of real life discussions and arguments discussants actually use, arguments that often deal with urgent questions of a social and personal sort. Our point of view is gaining in acceptance. The present volume supplies a large number of newly written papers that together make up a survey of recent developments in the field of empirical logic. It contains theoretical contributions, some of a more formal and some of an informal nature, as well as numerous contemporary and historical case studies. Consequently, this book has something to offer to those readers who wish to focus upon the theory and practice of discussion, debate, arguing, and argument, as well as to those readers who are primarily interested in applications to a particular field, such as ethics, political philosophy, feminist philosophy, or the history of philosophy.

The essays in this volume are arranged in four parts. In the opening essay of Part I, GOVIER stresses the essential interpersonal character of our rational activities. Thus we have to leave the point of view of a single mind reasoning for itself, and move on to a more sociological view of reasoning and thought. Three papers are concerned with fallacy theory. WOODS shows how secundum quid can be conceived as a Master Fallacy from which other types of fallacy are split off as theory advances. The papers by Nuchelmans and by Van Eemeren and Grootendorst cover the history of the argument ad hominem. NUCHELMANS carefully analyzes the Aristotelian roots of the argument. He argues that some traditions are so disparate that it may be better not to use the same term ad hominem, in all of them. VAN EEMEREN and GROOTENDORST describe the so- called Standard Treatment, Hamblin’s criticism of this treatment, and the reactions to Hamblin. The last two papers are case studies. VAN EPENHUYSEN’s case study gives us an opportunity to inspect the logical culture of a Medical Ethics Committee from the inside, whereas KRABBE’s case study deals with a televised political debate.

The papers in Part II deal with specific conceptual or linguistic tools. NORTH takes up Lovejoy’s well-known concept of the Great Chain of Being. This concept is an important tool in the analysis of the development of ideas; and yet, so it is argued, some of the conceptual connections in this area are ill-conceived. NESS’s paper represents one particularly important type of empirical research in logic. He reports a study of weight expression (expressions that indicate a degree of adherence to a thesis) in a large corpus of textbooks. Next, there follow two papers that illustrate the use of form methods for the elucidation of empirico-logical problems. WICHE discuss Mannoury’s notions of choice negation and exclusion negation. He takes steps toward a pragmatization of these notions, but also shows to what extent a formalization by means of many-valued logic can be fruitful. HOEPELMAN and VAN HOOF apply dialogue tableau theory in order to gain a better understanding of generics and defaults. GOOSSENS analyses the types of discourse among and within companies that differ in their commitment to values. In particular, he investigates how one could best deal with the concept of truth under these circumstances. Creative definitions, so often decried as fallacious, are, by MARCISZEWSKI, made to stand as the cornerstones of intellectual growth. Thus we reach the realm of cognitive science which is also the subject of JORNA’s paper in which empirical logic is allied to the feud around connectivism.

Part III is concerned with logical cultures and subcultures and the various factors that may promote or obstruct the occurrence of critical discussions within them. JOHNSON, in his study of dialectical fields stresses that it is not enough to be rational or reasonable: one also has to show that one is indeed so disposed, otherwise a cultural climate of discussion may yet fail. DU PREEZ shows how to classify different logical cultures or climates and how they transform one into the other. FINOCCHIARO analyses Mosca’s idea that logic is democracy’s worst enemy. This is bad weather already, but in SMIT’s paper we get some real logical storms as he investigates the logical or pseudo- logical instruments for the legitimation of terror. VAN BENTHEM VAN DEN BERGH discusses two particularly important obstacles to public debate: the blame-oriented way of thinking and the myth of innate characteristics of human groups. Finally, VAN BENDEGEM shows that the realm of mathematics is not quite the sanctuary some take it to be.

Part IV can be seen as a continuation of Part III, but now the particular theme is the disempowerment of women. The paper by SONGE-MALLER shows how the exclusion of the feminine is already at work in the earliest conceptualization of being: the poem of Parmenides. Skipping a number of centuries, DALITZ turns to woman’s place according to Hobbes’ theory of agreement and points out a circularity in the reasoning. SCHRÖDER analyzes Weininger’s ‘Geschlecht und Charakter’, and shows it to be a disgusting piece of hate literature, the sale of which should be outlawed. The volume is concluded by Radcliffe RICHARD’s devastating criticism of traditional arguments for the assignment of separate spheres to the sexes.

As may be grasped from this survey, empirical logic faces an immense research domain and an equally immense field of application. Consequently, this collection of essays is intended for a large readership of researchers: teachers, advanced students, and other people interested in philosophy (not only philosophy of argumentation but also epistemology, feminist philosophy, as well as the history of philosophy), or in applied linguistics (speech communication and composition, rhetoric, discourse analysis), or in social and political science. The book is further meant to comprise the essential materials for a graduate, or perhaps a senior, course in empirical logic. Such a course could be part of various programs.

The editors wish to express their gratitude to Professor John North, who acted as their adviser on various delicate matters, and to John and Marion North for their invaluable help with English language problems in a number of papers. We are also grateful for the support offered by the Department of Philosophy of Groningen University. This support made it possible to prepare camera ready copy, a job undertaken by Ronald Hunneman, and at a later stage by Allard M. Tamminga. We wish to thank them here for the enormous amount of strenuous work they put into this project. These essays were written in honour of Else M. Barth, whose inspiring contributions have done so much for the present field. She not only vigorously stressed the importance of the empirical logic programme, giving the field its theoretical and methodological underpinnings, she has also contributed paradigmatic studies on special subjects, such as the logic of the articles, modal logic, dialogue logic, homoeological thought, Hegelian and other idealist logic, philosophical roots of sexism, infinitesimals, semantic roles, dialectical fields, epistemology, asymmetry and contradiction, the oligodynamic principle, distributive intelligence, the ontological Master Premiss, logical principles of political philosophies, ethical-political in completeness, etc. The authors and the editors of this volume are grateful to share in this wealth of ideas, that has, in various ways, been immensely profitable to each of them.

Erik C.W. Krabbe, Renee Jose Dalitz, Pier A. Smit
Department of Philosophy
Groningen University
A-weg 30
9718 CW Groningen
The Netherlands