Argument Content and Argument Source: An Exploration

Ulrike Hahn, Adam J.L. Harris, Adam Corner


Argumentation is pervasive in everyday life. Understanding what makes a strong argument is therefore of both theoretical and practical interest. One factor that seems intuitively important to the strength of an argument is the reliability of the source providing it. Whilst traditional approaches to argument evaluation are silent on this issue, the Bayesian approach to argumentation (Hahn & Oaksford, 2007) is able to capture important aspects of source reliability. In particular, the Bayesian approach predicts that argument content and source reliability should interact to determine argument strength. In this paper, we outline the approach and then demonstrate the importance of source reliability in two empirical studies. These experiments show the multiplicative relationship between the content and the source of the argument predicted by the Bayesian framework.


Bayesian probability, argument strength, source reliability, fallacies

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ISSN: 0824-2577