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Aristotle on Bad Arguments

Leading Minds Research Project.
Leeds, UK
4-5th July, 2014

Why does Aristotle include knowledge of defective arguments within the arts of dialectic and rhetoric? On one attractive way of understanding the nature of Aristotelian rhetoric and dialectic, these are (in large measure) expertises in the use of good arguments and good reasoning to persuade others. How then should we explain the place Aristotle gives to defective arguments (merely apparent enthymemes / syllogisms / refutations, sophisms, and in general invalid and otherwise defective arguments) within his works on these expertises of dialectic and rhetoric (Topics, Sophistical Refutations and Rhetoric)? How should we understand his apparent recommendations regarding the use of such arguments? By what standards of propriety does he mark out arguments as “merely apparent syllogisms/enthymemes”, particularly given his famously “more relaxed” standards for genuine enthymemes in rhetoric?

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