Are Some Modus Ponens Arguments Deductively Invalid?

Douglas Walton

Abstract


This article concerns the structure of defeasible arguments like: 'If Bob has red spots, Bob has the measles; Bob has red spots; therefore Bob has the measles.' The issue is whether such arguments have the form of modus ponens or not. Either way there is a problem. If they don't have the form of modus ponens, the common opinion to the contrary taught in leading logic textbooks is wrong. But if they do have the form of modus ponens, doubts are raised about the conventional dogma that all arguments having the form of modus ponens are deductively valid. By carefully examining arguments on both sides of the issue, reasonable doubts are raised about the view that all arguments having a modus ponens form are valid.

Keywords


argumentation schemes, defeasible inference, abductive inference, generalizations, artificial intelligence, conditionals, argument forms, diagnostic reasoning, legal argumentation, modus ponens

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.22329/il.v22i1.2571

ISSN: 0824-2577