University of Oulu

Kuukkanen, JM. Pluralism in reasoning: how to legitimate material inferences. Synthese 202, 66 (2023).

Pluralism in reasoning : how to legitimate material inferences

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Author: Kuukkanen, Jouni-Matti1
Organizations: 1Professor in Philosophy, Research Director of Eudaimonia Institute, University of Oulu, 90014 Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-10-20


Wilfrid Sellars’s suggestion that there are valid material inferences entails that validity is not limited to formal inferences. Because material inferences are expressed in ordinary language and deal with both conceptual and empirical matters, an interesting prospect unfolds: valid reasoning is irreducibly plural. However, it is not clear what the validity of inferences composed of non-logical and descriptive vocabulary means. I argue that it is better to speak of the legitimacy rather than the validity of material inferences. A material inference can be understood as legitimate when one has a pragmatic propriety to infer from an assertion A to an assertion B. Pragmatic propriety designates the social-normative entitlement of inferencing. Because pragmatic proprieties are discipline-specific and local, legitimate reasoning is plural. Nevertheless, the shared general feature of reasoning practices is to preserve and improve the coherence of one’s system of belief.

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Series: Synthese
ISSN: 0039-7857
ISSN-E: 1573-0964
ISSN-L: 0039-7857
Volume: 202
Issue: 3
Article number: 66
DOI: 10.1007/s11229-023-04287-z
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 611 Philosophy
Funding: Open Access funding provided by University of Oulu including Oulu University Hospital.
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