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A Dialectical Model of Scientific Discovery and Inquiry

Lecture by Douglas Walton

In this lecture, the Carneades argumentation system is used to model an example of the progress of scientific inquiry starting from a discovery phase.

During the discovery phase, (a) data are collected, and used to construct hypotheses (b) the hypotheses are tested by experiments and criticized, and (c) if one of them is strongly enough supported by the evidence to the required proof standard, it is tentatively accepted. That does not mean the statement asserted by the hypothesis is proved, however. For that to be done, the argumentation has to shift to a subsequent phase. The inquiry phase has the goal of proving the hypothesis to a suitable proof standard, disproving it, or proving that it cannot be proved or disproved.


Douglas Walton is a Canadian academic and author, well known for his many widely published books and papers on argumentation, logical fallacies and informal logic. He presently holds the Assumption Chair in Argumentation Studies and is Distinguished Research Fellow of the Centre for Research in Reasoning, Argumentation and Rhetoric (CRRAR) at the University of Windsor, Canada.
Walton’s work has been used to better prepare legal arguments and to help develop artificial intelligence. His books have been translated worldwide, and he attracts students from many countries to study with him. A festschrift honoring his contributions, Dialectics, Dialogue and Argumentation: An Examination of Douglas Walton's Theories of Reasoning and Argument, ed. C. Reed and C. W. Tindale, London: College Publications, 2010, shows how his theories are increasingly finding applications in computer science.


Thursday, 29 September, 2011
15.15-17.00 h
Oude Boteringestraat 52, room Alpha

Last modified:30 October 2012 8.39 p.m.