Active Involvement: The Evaluation of Reasoning
Besides possessing propositional structure, reasoning can be evaluated as being good or bad. The favorable evaluation of reasoning seems to arouse less interest among both practical reasoners and logical theorists. It is not clear why this is so: perhaps it is because the truth shines more brilliantly than error and hence needs less display to prevail and flourish than error does in order to be avoided. I am inclined to think that a fundamental reason is the fact that contrasts are more instructive and significant, for unfavorable evaluation is much more likely to involve considerations about good and bad reasoning if for no other reason than that one’s own unfavorable evaluation, in order to be adequate and well-grounded, must be itself an instance of good reasoning. In short, in unfavorable evaluation one is (presumably) being exposed to both good and bad reasoning, the bad reasoning being unfavorably evaluated, and the good reasoning justifying the unfavorable evaluation; hence, one gets a better intuitive feeling and theoretical understanding of good and of bad reasoning, and of the difference between the two. Thus, the criticism of reasoning, as we may call the unfavorable evaluation of reasoning, is a topic very much worth studying.
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