David Botting, “Interpretive Dilemmas”
In what sense is argument independent of context? Independent: logical form. Dependent: identifying the form is a matter of interpretation, which depends on context. So whether a fallacy has occurred depends on what is attributed to the arguer: (a) the argument form the speaker intends, and (b) the commitment of the speaker to the quality of argumQ: Ient.
This yields interpretive dilemmas. Interpreters must decide between (i) attributing fallacious argument forms, and (ii) holding that the speaker isn’t arguing or has a contextually appropriate version. E.g.s: Tu quoque taken as theoretical (fallacious) or replying to a demand from an inappropriate source, namely, a hypocrite (appropriate). Argument from pity as theoretical (fallacious) or as practical (appropriate). Argument from ignorance as demonstrative (fallacious) or as practical attitudes of defaults (relevant)
Comment (The NS’s own John Casey): Here we have a case where we might be looking for good reasoning when there’s not any. Can’t charity run amok?
Q: Is there instead a trilemma, between fallacy, contextual non-fallacy, and non-argument?