Monday, August 08, 2011

"Ancient Fallacies," Department of Classics and Ancient History, University of Durham, September 21-23, 2011.

Greek philosophers 'invented' the discipline known as 'logic', the study and classification of valid forms of argument and inference (the 'invention' is usually attributed to Aristotle, but less systematic reflections on logical issues can be traced back at least to Plato). Since its beginning and throughout antiquity, this inquiry remained intimately connected to the investigation, diagnosis and classification of forms of argument that are invalid or otherwise unsound, and especially of those forms of argument which, despite their invalidity, somehow appear to be valid and thus can easily induce in error. To be able to spot and unmask 'fallacies' in someone else's argument was particularly crucial in a context in which philosophy itself had an intrinsic dialectical nature, and fallacy was often used consciously or 'sophistically' to win the debate or put one's rival into a corner. The conference will investigate ancient theories of fallacies and sophisms, practices and examples of fallacious argumentation, and philosophical attitudes towards them.

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