John Woods has made crucial contributions both on how to make sense of the problematic notion of "charity" in argumentation theory, and on how to develop a reasonable theory of argumentative errors, often referred to as "fallacies". In this paper I will leverage these two strands of John's work to argue that mainstream fallacy theory largely fails because it provides an uncharitable portrait of our reasoning skills. This is problematic not only because it delivers an inadequate and unfair picture of our rational powers, but also (and mostly) because it makes fallacy theory unusable, or even damaging, as an educational device. Building on John's work, I will outline ways of getting rid of this theoretical bathwater without throwing away the proverbial baby -- that is, how to theorize about reasoning errors in ways that help people actually improve their argumentative habits and reasoning skills. The bad news is that this ends up making the very notion of fallacy, and by extension the bulk of fallacy theory, largely redundant. The good news is that, if I am right in my line of argument, their disappearance is cause for celebration, rather than sorrow.
The scaremongering fallacy of fallacy theory: how to improve reasoning without fear of error
Contributo in volume
College Publications Ltd, London, GBR
Natural Arguments: A Tribute to John Woods, edited by Gabbay D., Magnani L., Park W., Pietarinen A. V., pp. 79–101. London: College Publications Ltd, 2019
info:cnr-pdr/source/autori:Paglieri F./titolo:The scaremongering fallacy of fallacy theory: how to improve reasoning without fear of error/titolo_volume:Natural Arguments: A Tribute to John Woods/curatori_volume:Gabbay D., Magnani L., Park W., Pietarinen