SEMINAR SERIES IN ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHY 2022-23: Session 8 | Ignoring Qualifications and the Problem of “Explicatures”

November 25, 2022
Ignoring Qualifications and the Problem of “Explicatures”
Fabrizio Macagno
IFILNOVA, New University of Lisbon
25 November 2022, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – WET)
Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa
Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)
Abstract: The fallacy of ignoring qualifications, or secundum quid et simpliciter, is a deceptive strategy commonly described in the logical tradition as a fallacy of generalization: the qualifications constituting the implicit exceptions or specifications of a generalization are ignored in drawing the conclusion, which thus only seems to follow from the stated premise. This fallacy was one of the most important challenges of the dialectical tradition, which continued in the 19th and 20th century logic, as it lies at the intersection between logic, semantics, and pragmatics, addressing the problem of meaning representation. The pragmatic approach to the “secundum quid” was hinted at by Aristotle, who described this manipulative strategy as based on the contrast between the “proper” sense of a statement and its meaning taken absolutely or in a certain respect. However, how can an “unqualified” statement have a proper meaning different from the qualified one, and vice versa? This “linguistic” fallacy brings to light a complex relationship between pragmatics, argumentation, and interpretation, and can be explained as a strategy of decontextualization lying at the interface between semantics and pragmatics. By ignoring the available evidence and the presumptive interpretation of a statement, the speaker places it in a different context or suppresses textual and contextual evidence to infer a specific meaning different from the presumable one.