Part of the Applied Logic Series book series (APLS, volume 1)


It would appear to be a common, and indeed quite a general presumption in informal logic that bias is a failure in argumentation that students can be taught to identify. This presumption becomes questionable, however, once we realize that there is no general method for determining bias in arguments that is widely accepted in the field of informal logic, or that is known to be itself free of bias. Even more worrisome, it is far from clear that we even understand what bias is, in the sense of being able to offer some clear and coherent definition of it that would be widely acceptable to those working in argumentation. Moreover, there are certain inherent difficulties in identifying and evaluating bias fairly and correctly, in a given case.


Critical Discussion Informal Logic Persuasion Dialogue Critical Doubt Presumptive Reasoning 
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  1. 1.
    Fuller accounts of the characteristics of these types of dialogue are given in Walton [1989b, pp. 3–9], [1990b, pp. 412–414], [19951, and Walton and Krabbe [1995].Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Donohue [1978; 1981].Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See Jacobs and Jackson [1983]. 4Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Walton [1995, Chapter 41.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Donohue [1978; 1981].Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Walton [1995, Chapter 4].Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Walton, [1995, Chapter 4]. These types of dialogue are systematically described in Walton and Krabbe [1995, Chapter 3].Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Flowers, McGuire, and Birnbaum, [1982]. See also Walton [1989a, p. 3], [1995, Chapter 4]. A detailed analysis of the quarrel as a normative model of dialogue is given in Walton and Krabbe [1995].Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    General accounts are to be found in Hamblin [1970], Barth and Martens [1977], Hinman [1982], Walton [1985], and Krabbe and Walton [1993].Google Scholar
  10. 1.
    This case, or a similar one, is discussed in more detail by Blair [1988].Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    CBS News Transcript Number 24 of 60 Minutes, February 24, 1991: ‘Becky’s Story,’ produced by Richard Bonin, pp. 7–11.Google Scholar
  12. 1.
    Ibid., p. 10.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Ibid., p. 10.Google Scholar
  14. 1.
    Ibid., pp. 10 – 11.Google Scholar
  15. 1.
    Ibid., p. 7.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Attacking an appeal to expert testimony on the grounds that the expert is a biased source is allowed in legal cross-examinations as a legitimate kind of argumentation. See Graham [1977]. However, it is also a kind of argumentation that can be abused.Google Scholar
  17. 1.
    Walton [1989a, p. 2071Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    European Journal, March 31, 1991.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
  20. 20.
    Walton [1989b].Google Scholar
  21. 2.
    ‘We Buy Votes’, Consumer Reports, April, 1991, p. 295.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Fearnside and Holther [1959, p. 119].Google Scholar
  23. 2.
    Van Eemeren and Grootendorst [1984, p. 791.Google Scholar
  24. 2.
    See Section 6 above, on hasty generalization. Blair [1988] would appear to disagree with this hypothesis, but sees a connection. He argues that bias is bad when it causes closed-mindedness, or leads to distortion, unfairness, or misrepresentation.Google Scholar
  25. 2.
    Grice [1975].Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of WinnipegCanada

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