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David Hitchcock

“What is an Argument?”

Abstract: Some years ago, I proposed a recursive* definition of argument. Not long afterwards, G. C. Goddu, in a paper entitled “Refining Hitchcock’s definition of argument”, pointed out some problems with this definition and proposed revisions to address them. I will explain how I got to my definition, consider Goddu’s objections and proposals, and propose a new definition, which I will compare with the “Argument Interchange Format” being developed in the field of computer science as infrastructure for the World Wide Argument Web.

*A recursive definition consists of base clause(s) defining simple cases of the thing being defined, recursion clause(s) giving recipes for making more complex cases out of less complex ones, and a closure clause saying that nothing counts as a case of the thing being defined unless it can be constructed using the given base and recursion clauses.

Dr. Hitchcock has provided a handout for his talk that is quite substantial. Everyone who is interested  in taking a look at the handout before the talk is invited to request it by writing an email to

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Date(s) - January 8, 2016
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

McMaster University, Kenneth Taylor Hall 109


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