ISSA Proceedings 2002 – Reasons

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logo  2002-11. It is a commonplace among philosophers that human actions are to be explained in terms of beliefs and desires, and that such explanations lay out a person’s reasons for acting. Terminology varies slightly from author to author – Fodor (1990, 4) talks about belief/desire explanations, Dennett (1978, especially chapter 1, and 1988) of “intentional explanation,” Davidson (1963, 3-4) of the “primary reason” for an action that consists of a belief and a “pro-attitude(i).” But there is wide agreement that reasons for acting involve both cognitive elements such as beliefs and conative elements such as desires.
On the other hand, when one looks at discussions of reasons for believing, or reasons for accepting a proposition as a premiss, conative elements – desires, hopes, preferences, fears – are seldom counted among the reasons. A casual reading of the literature suggests that when authors talk about the reasons for they are usually referring to the propositions or statements on belief on which people base their beliefs(ii). But if we look at the factors that actually lead people to accept the propositions they do accept, we will discover that conative factors often to play a crucial and legitimate role, even when even when people are basing their beliefs on evidence.

This paper was prompted by puzzlement over whether there is an asymmetry between reasons for acting and reasons for believing, and by the suspicion that it might prove valuable to count certain sorts of conative elements among reasons belief and/or acceptance. Accordingly, the paper proceeds as follows:
a. I review some of the ways in which conative elements appear to be crucial in the processing of arguments and evidence (part I)
b. I offer a framework for discussing the nature and role of conative elements in our cognitive lives (parts II and III)
c. on the basis of that framework, I attempt to formulate what I think the key question ought to be (part III, section 12)
d. finally I sketch a prima facie case for broadening our understanding of the legitimate reasons for belief and acceptance to include conative factors or elements (part IV).

I. Conative factors in the generation of belief and acceptance
2. Let begin with a consideration that emerges from refection on D. J. O’Keefe’s 1994 ISSA keynote address (reprinted as O’Keefe 1996). O’Keefe reviews the communication literature on “dual-process models of persuasion” and advances a couple of theses about the implications of that model for argumentation theory.

The core idea he explores is that two types of processing can occur in response to the presentation of an argument. Viewed in light of my contention that arguments are invitations to inference (Pinto 2001, chapter 4), this amounts to the idea that there are different ways in which an invitation to inference can be taken up. In dual-process models, one type of response is called “issue-relevant thinking” (or “central-route” persuasion); here the recipient of an argument will “attend closely to a presented message, carefully scrutinize the arguments it contains, reflect on other issue-relevant considerations (e.g., other arguments recalled from memory, or arguments they devise), and so on” (O’Keefe 1996, 61). But recipients don’t always undertake much issue-relevant thinking or “elaboration” when presented with an argument. Instead, sometimes (p. 62)
the receiver employs some heuristic principle, some simple decision rule, to evaluate the advocated position. For example, receivers might be guided by whether they like the communicator, or by whether they find the communicator credible.

This alternate type of processing is called “heuristic rather (than central) processing” or “peripheral route” persuasion.” These two types (p. 62):
are not conceived of as exhaustive and mutually exclusive categories or kinds of persuasion…[but] represent convenient idealized extremes on the underlying continuum of issue-relevant thinking.

I would interject here my own observation that a common response, lying midway on that continuum, occurs when the receiver accepts the conclusion of an argument on the basis of its premisses, but accepts those premisses and presumes that the conclusion follows from them because the receiver trusts the communicator, rather than as a result of carefully examining those issues of his own.
O’Keefe reviews the factors which, according to the literature, affect the degree to which a receiver engages in issue-relevant thinking in response to an argument, as well as questions about how persuasive success is achieved in each of these two types of process. However, what interests me in O’Keefe’s paper is not these details, but his defense (pp. 68-72) of the rationality of engaging in non-systematic or peripheral processing. What typically renders such an option rational are the limitations of time and resources under which we must operate. If O’Keefe is right about this, as I think he is, then presented with an arugments can proceed along two quite different routes.
We have to decide which sort of “route” to take – what “type of reasoning” to engage in. I submit that these decisions are and should be guided by “practical” considerations about the amount of time and kind of effort we are willing to devote to the matter at hand in light of our resources, goals and preferences. In other words, the reasons for such decisions will include the kinds of conative factors – the goals and preferences – that are found among reasons for actions.

3. Moreover, if we zero in on what occurs when we engage in “issue-relevant thinking,” we will find that reaching a decision about whether to accept a conclusion must turn on our goals and preferences. There are at least four reasons why this will be true.
i. In issue-relevant thinking we have to judge whether proposed arguments and inference are good – and that requires us to bring our epistemic values to bear on the materials at hand(iii). But our epistemic values are rooted in our epistemic preferences.
ii. Judging whether an argument is good requires deciding whether its grounds are strong enough to warrant acceptance of its conclusion in the context in at hand. The strength of evidence required will depend on the purposes that shape our reasoning in that context. Considerations that are strong enough to warrant acceptance of a conclusion in one context may not be strong enough to warrant acceptance of the very same conclusion is another context. What would be sufficient in the context of an undergraduate essay might well not be sufficient in the context of a journal article – something that probably depends on the epistemic values appropriate to those two quite different contexts. But more interestingly, judgments about how strong grounds need to be will often involve non-epistemic values and preferences. For example, if the conclusion of an inference is going to serve as the basis of a decision that might put one’s life savings at risk, then a reasonable person will demand stronger grounds for than he would he would if the only thing at stake were how long my trip to Toronto would take.
iii. As we will see below (section 6), inferences can be made on different sorts of grounds – for example, on direct as opposed to non-direct evidence (or vice versa), on expert as opposed to non-expert testimony, and so on. Reflection must be sensitive to the question of whether the sort of grounds under consideration is appropriate to the context at hand. Here again, our judgements about the appropriateness of grounds will also often involve non-epistemic as well as epistemic values and preferences. Testimony, as opposed to direct evidence, will be appropriate in one sort of context but not in another. Non-expert testimony will suffice for certain purposes (the causal purchase of something that doesn’t cost very much), while only expert testimony will suffice for other purposes (where the context is one of deciding on legislation that will affect the lives of millions of people).
iv. Finally, matters that belong to what Johnson (2000) calls the “dialectical tier” – consideration of objections and counter-arguments that bear on a proposed inference – can and often should be an important part of issue-relevant thinking. However, to deal with such matters we must take the time to search out, access, or invent such considerations. Dennett (1978, pp 293 ff.) has pointed out how much our reasoning is affected by which considerations happen to occur to us in the course of deliberations, and Goldman (1986, 199-207) has pointed out how our reasoning is affected by which of our beliefs we happen to “access.” As a result, one must always – at least implicitly – decide whether to make up one’s mind about a matter now or to defer judgment about a possible conclusion pending further information or further scrutiny. Such decisions must take into account the “costs” of securing additional information or engaging in further scrutiny (including the possibility of lost opportunities as a result of deferring judgment). A practical decision – based at least in part on non-epistemic values – must be made about how much time and resources to allot to the search for such additional considerations (iv).

II. A framework for discussing these issues
4. We need to get clearer about exactly where the conative factors just alluded to fit in the reasoning that leads to a conclusion. Only then will we be in a position to ask whether they are appropriately counted among of our reasons for belief or acceptance. To that end, it is essential to invoke a number of distinctions.
The first of these is a distinction between reasons why a person does something and a person’s reasons for doing it. Not every reason why a person does something is a reason for doing it. For example, the reasons why a person makes a mistake don’t usually equate to or include reasons for making that mistake. The reasons why a person does something sometimes but not always include reasons for doing it.
It is also important to note that a person’s reasons for doing something need not equate to or be part of reasons why something was done(v). First of all, I can have a reason for doing something and simply not do it – perhaps because my reasons for doing it were outweighed by reasons for not doing it, or even because I was being unreasonable. Secondly, I might have two distinct reasons for doing a certain thing and do it on account of one of those reasons but not the other.
In short, reasons for doing something only partially overlap with reasons why something is done. In what follows, however, I will be principally concerned with reasons for actions or believing which are part of the reasons why we act or believe as we do.

5. A second, and even more crucial, distinction must be made between
a. our reasons for believing or accepting something, and
b. the grounds on which we do (or might) believe or accept it.
To see the need for this distinction, consider cases in which someone has “pragmatic” reasons for belief. For example, Pascal’s wager develops reasons for believing there is a god, but those reasons don’t appeal to evidence for the existence of god, nor do they contain any grounds or premisses from which the existence of god might be inferred. Other, somewhat similar cases have also been discussed in the epistemological literature. For example, empirical evidence strongly indicates that people who believe they will recover from an illness are much more likely to recover. That fact (together with a desire to recover) gives a sick person a reason for believing he will recover – even though it does not constitute a ground or premiss from which he could infer that he’ll recover. Or again, some have maintained that one has an obligation (and therefore a reason) to believe a spouse or close friend innocent, even when the evidence available points to guilt. If that is true, it constitutes another sort of case in which there are reasons for believing something in the absence of grounds on which to base that belief.
In short, reasons for believing may or may not contain grounds for believing. In what follows, I am going to ignore reasons for believing that don’t include grounds for belief, and concentrate on reasons for belief that do include grounds. This distinction is crucial, since I want to explore the question of whether reasons for a belief or acceptance may contain conative factors in addition to the grounds for that belief(vi).

6. Another, less important, distinction concerning grounds is also useful to make – a distinction between grounds which comprise “direct” evidence for a proposition versus grounds which comprise “non-direct” or “derivative” evidence for a proposition. For example, when my ground for accepting p involves your testimony to the effect that p is true, my ground will be a reasonable basis for my conclusion only if I suppose that you actually believe p and have good reasons for believing it. Or again, if I use a proposition p as a premiss on the ground that I believe that p, even though I can’t remember what led me to believe it, my use of p as a premiss is reasonable only if I suppose that at some time in the past my belief was shaped by evidence. In cases like these, my immediate ground for believing p in some sense implies that I or someone else had other, more direct grounds for believing p. I shall call such grounds non-direct or derivative grounds. I will call grounds which aren’t derivative in this sense direct grounds for believing or accepting p.
There are other distinctions among types of grounds or evidence that may prove useful as well – for examples the distinction between anecdotal as opposed to systematic evidence – but in this paper I won’t attempt to detail such other distinctions.

7. More important for my purposes is the distinction between believing a proposition and accepting it. By accepting a proposition I mean being prepared to use it as a premiss in my reasonings or inferences (or in cases of public discussion being prepared to tolerate its use by others). Now a rational person will be prepared to accept certain propositions in one context or for one purpose, but not be prepared to use them as premisses in other contexts or for other purposes. For one thing, using a certain proposition as a premiss may be question-begging in one context but not in the other. For another, and more importantly, the degree of credibility a proposition has may be adequate for one purpose but not for another. For example, I may think that Smith is something of a scoundrel, based only on things I’ve been told about him in causal conversations with my friends. For certain purposes (deciding whom to invite on a fishing trip), it might be reasonable for me to accept the proposition that Smith is a scoundrel, but for other purposes (deciding whether Smith should be fired or whether he should be admitted to the bar) it would be unreasonable for me to base any conclusion on that proposition, given the kind of evidence I have for it(vii).

As I see it, a key difference between belief and acceptance lies in the context-dependence of acceptance. It is quite obvious that acceptance is and ought to be context-dependent, but it’s difficult to make sense of the idea that a person believes a proposition in one context but not in others. Additionally, it should be noted that I can accept “as a working hypothesis” something I don’t have any firm belief about. It can even be reasonable for me to accept as a basis for inference a proposition that I believe to be false, as when I use a simplifying assumption (such as Newton’s inverse square law as a rough and ready basis for computing gravitational forces) to facilitate reasoning or calculation.
In what follows, I am going to assume that when one draws a “factual” conclusion(viii), acceptance of the grounds(ix) motivates acceptance of the conclusion(x) – that one draws a conclusion when one accepts a conclusion on the basis of premisses which one accepts.
An additional reason for zeroing in on acceptance rather than belief (drawn from the pragma-dialectical literature – see van Eemeren and Grootendorst 1984, 69 ff.) is this: where we are interested argumentative discussions, it is the public commitments of the participants we should be interested in, not their subjective psychological states

8. One last set of distinctions is needed for my purposes. Accepting (as just defined) and believing are states rather than actions or processes. I shall call them cognitive states or cognitive attitudes to contrast them with conative states such as desiring, fearing, hoping, etc. (I leave open the possibility that there are other cognitive states as well.) Drawing a conclusion or making an inferences is not a state; but it is an action or at least very much like action. I shall call such things cognitive moves. I leave it open for now what else, besides drawing conclusions, should be counted as a cognitive move.

In addition to cognitive moves, I recognize cognitive processes, in the context of which cognitive moves occur. Prominent among cognitive processes, as I propose to use that term, are inquiry and deliberation.

III. Reasons for drawing a conclusion
9. Let me now zero in on the cognitive move of making an inference or drawing a conclusion. I assume the reader works with a concept of inference in which an inference has grounds or premisses consisting of one or more propositions and has a conclusion also consists of a proposition. I also assume that in many cases the reader is able to recognize inferences, their grounds and their conclusions(xi).
When an inference takes place, it may or may not be on the basis of careful reflection on the pros and cons of the inference to be made. For example, the “issue-relevant thinking” described in O’Keefe 1996 involves careful reflection on the pros and cons of an argument and may or may not result in accepting the argument’s conclusion on the basis of premisses or grounds proposed by an arguer. But it is quite impossible for every piece of reasoning to be of the reflective sort – to require that would generate an infinite regress. As far as I can see, reflection on the pros and cons of a possible inference is itself typically not reflected upon. Accordingly, we must recognize two sorts of inference – call them reflective and unreflective (or perhaps “spontaneous”) inference.

10. In Part I I’ve already indicated five different ways in which the decision to draw a conclusion rests in part on conative factors. It is easy to see that these factors can and should play a role in reflective thinking about whether to draw a certain conclusion from given grounds. Such reflection can be viewed as a kind of deliberation which, like deliberation generally, involves conative factors. And the inferences performed reflectively are readily treated as actions based, like other actions, on a combination of the cognitive and conative factors.

11. But what about “spontaneous” or “non-reflective” inference? Here, no explicit decision or judgment is made about the aptness of inference, and since there is no explicit decision or judgment there are no explicit reasons shaping such decisions or judgments.

Consider first the suggestion that in such cases people “implicitly” suppose their inferences are warranted in the situation at hand, and that their inferences are justified so long as they have reasons for supposing them to be justified, even when those reasons have not been explicitly rehearsed(xii). By saying that people “have” such reasons, we would mean that they have a set of beliefs and a set of preferences such that, if they were to explicitly ask themselves whether the inference is justified, then those beliefs and preferences would (or should) lead them to the warranted conclusion that it is justified. There are, I think, two problems with this suggestion. First of all, it demands too little, since a person can have reasons for supposing an inference justified even when he has been prompted to the inference not by those reasons but by an irrational tendency (An example would be a jealous husband who will suspect his wife on any evidence, good or bad). And secondly, the suggestion demands too much, since many people who make reasonable inferences are relatively unsophisticated when it comes to epistemological matters. They simply lack the sort of developed body of beliefs about warrantedness they would need to adequately back up the conclusion that this particular inference warranted.

Let me briefly sketch a different approach. When a person makes an inference from grounds G to a conclusion p, we can ask which features of the grounds or of the wider “evidentiary situation” had to be salient for this particular inference to occur as it did. For example, would S have reached the conclusion q if the fact that the grounds were of the form “p & if p then q” had not been salient for S? Or, would S have drawn a conclusion about this matter on the basis of nonexpert testimony if it had not seemed to him that very little was at stake? To the extent that we can identify such features, we can construct a bit of deliberative reasoning that would incorporate them into patterns resembling the patterns that actually occur in reflective inferences. We can then think of unreflective inferences as performed on the basis of the reasons exhibited in such constructed deliberations. Key elements found in such constructions might be supplied by us, who presumably have the developed body of beliefs about warrantedness needed for such constructs. At the same time, the constructions would be anchored in what is salient to the subject, and would therefore reflect the features on which the occurrence of the inference actually depends.

Let me point out four things which I think favor this sketch.
a. It provides something we need – a way of making sense of why people draw the inferences that they draw and why they decline the inferences that they decline.
b. Though it involves rather liberal construction on our part and is in some ways fanciful, it is grounded in saliencies that we have reason to believe are causally efficacious, and which therefore have explanatory value.
c. As far as I can see, most “intentional explanation” of action involves, as Dennett claims it does, strategies for attributing beliefs and desires whose justification is pragmatic – in other words, intentional explanation involves a kind of construction not entirely unlike the construction I’ve outlined.
d. Insofar as it is anchored in factors that are salient for a subject, it highlights features of the evidential situation of which the subject is in some sense “conscious”– something devoutly to be wished in the factors we would count among the reasons for action.

12. Suppose, then, we have a defensible way of envisaging the reasons for drawing a conclusion in which conative factors occur among those reasons. In that event, we can say that conative factors are to be found among the reasons for cognitive moves. That, in a way, should be no surprise, since cognitive moves are actions (or very much like actions), and the reasons for actions are typically thought to include conative factors. But belief and acceptance are not actions; they are cognitive states rather than cognitive moves. Hence the crucial question becomes: Are the conative factors that provide reasons for cognitive moves also reasons for the cognitive states to which those moves give rise?

IV. What should we count as a reason for accepting a proposition?
13. Let me begin by trying to get a fix on the very idea of a reason. Davidson (1962, 3) calls explanations in terms of reasons “rationalizations,” and says that a reason:
rationalizes an action only if it leads us to see something the agent saw, or thought he saw, in his action – some feature, consequence, or aspect of the action the agent wanted, desired, prized, held dear, thought dutiful, beneficial, obligatory or agreeable.

Dennett (1978, p 236) calls explanations in terms of reasons “intentional explanations” and says that they:
explain by giving a rationale for the explicandum. Intentional explanations explain a bit of behavior, an action, or a stretch of inaction, by making it reasonable in the light of certain beliefs, intentions, desires ascribed to the agent.

In these passages Davidson and Dennett are talking about reasons for action, not reasons for belief. But there is a common element in what they say which, I submit, also applies to reasons for believing or accepting a proposition. Reasons for belief, like reasons for action, also explain by “giving a rationale” and therefore making a belief reasonable in the light of other things the agent believes or accepts.
Of course, having “rationale” for doing something only makes doing it provisionally reasonable. An action or cognitive attitude will be unqualifiedly reasonable (a) only if the beliefs, intentions, desires which make up its rationale are themselves reasonable and (b) only if a person does not have reasons against it which outway the reasons for it.

It is also worth keeping in mind the purposes that are served by identifying people’s reasons for their actions or beliefs. I call attention to two such purposes which I think are particularly relevant to the issue at hand.
a. We need to know what people’s reasons are in order to decide whether their action and beliefs are reasonable or justified. Thus a person is justified in doing something if and only if
i. his reasons for doing it are good reasons and
ii. his reasons for doing it are not overridden by reasons for not doing it. And of course the cognitive and conative states which give someone a reason to do something will give him a good reason only if it is reasonable for that person to be in those states.
b. Knowing people’s reasons for action or belief puts us in a better position to persuade them to change their mind or change their behavior. For example, if I know that someone’s belief that p rests on her belief that q, I will realize that countering her belief that q may be a way of getting her to change her mind about p(xiii). Or again, if I know that someone buys a certain type of car because he prefers comfort to safety, I can try to get him to change is behavior by persuading him to alter that preference.

In light of the first of these purposes, reasons for doing something should consist in those cognitive and (perhaps) conative states on whose reasonableness the reasonableness of doing that thing depends. In light of the second, the cognitive and conative states which comprise someone’s reasons for doing something should states we would encourage or discourage if we wanted to change someone’s mind about doing that thing.

14. On the basis of these considerations a prima facie case can be made for counting the reasons for the cognitive move of making an inference among the reasons that explain and perhaps justify the cognitive state to which that inference leads.

To know what a person’s reasons for accepting a proposition are is to understand why, from the agent’s point of view, it is reasonable to accept that proposition. And this means we need to be attuned to the conative factors which do or can make it seem reasonable to the agent to draw the conclusions he or she draws under the circumstances he or she is in. For example, Smith may accept a certain proposition p (for example, that Prof. Jones is a difficult teacher from whom people rarely learn very much) on fairly weak, hearsay grounds, and use that proposition as one of the bases for the action he’s about to take (he’s deciding whether to drop Jones’ course). He decision to draw this conclusion about Jones from hearsay evidence in that context is shaped by a number of factors:
i. given his current goals, he has a strong desire to make a decision now, since tomorrow is the last date on which he can drop a course and still get a refund,
ii. he believes that this hearsay evidence is the only evidence readily available to him in the short run to settle the question of whether p is true, and
iii. given his current goals, he judges that he can live with the costs of making a bad decision about the matter (he’s taking courses only to satisfy his interests and he no longer cares whether he accumulates enough credits to graduate).

I maintain that we don’t really see why Smith accepts p in these circumstances unless we see that his acceptance emerges from (i)-(iii). Moreover, we can’t determine whether it was reasonable for him to accept p as a basis for decision without determining whether he behaved reasonably with respect to (i)-(iii). And finally, we can’t determine whether he behaved reasonably with respect to (i) and (iii) without making a judgment about the reasonableness of the goals alluded to in (i) and (iii).

If Smith is extremely wealthy, his concern about losing the refund might be unreasonable; if it is, then I would maintain that his acceptance of p would not be reasonable either – his evidence for p it is too shaky to justify accepting p in the absence of a compelling need to make up his mind right away. Again, if Smith’s circumstances make it unreasonable for him to place no value on the number of credits he accumulates, the reasonableness of accepting p will similarly be called into question – since too much might in fact be at stake for him to accept p on such shaky grounds.
In short, if I’m right that we should count as reasons for accepting p those factors on which the reasonableness of accepting p depends, then we should count conative factors which function as reasons for making an inference among the reasons for accepting the proposition to which that inference leads.

Moreover, if we imagine ourselves trying to get Smith to withhold assent from p in this context, we will see that important first steps might include getting him to see that there’s no need to make a decision now, or getting him to realize that how many credits he accumulates should matter to him a great deal. If we succeed along either of these lines, Smith might well realize that his evidence for p is too weak to justify basing any decision on the assumption that p is true.,

15. I consider what I’ve just sketched a prima facie case for including the reasons that lead us to make an inference among the reasons for accepting the outcome of that inference. But the case is only a prima facie case. We need to be very careful about expanding the category of reasons for accepting a proposition. For example, I for one would want to resist the following principle:
1. If a is one of S’s reasons for accepting b, and b is one of S’s reasons for accepting c, then a is one of S’s reasons for accepting c.
Endorsing the “transitivity of reasons” would lead in the direction of a foundationialism which is, to say the least, problematic. Or again if we were to say both
2. whenever somebody reasons to a conclusion, that person must have a reason to think that the conclusion follows from its grounds,
3. a person has a reason to think that a follows from b only if that person has concluded after examination that a follows from b
we would generate the sort of infinite regress which Lewis Carroll (1895) explored in “What the Tortoise said to Achilles(xiv).”

Accordingly, before we can completely endorse the suggestion I’m making, we must assure ourselves that there is a principled way to include among reasons for belief or acceptance what I am proposing to include, while at the same time excluding the things we should want to exclude from that category. We would also have to work out in more detail just how accounts of the reasons for acceptance should be restructured so as to include the elements that I maintain should be included.

16. Despite these caveats, I think this proposal can represent a salutary advance in our understanding of the reasons that explain and justify our cognitive attitudes. Recognizing conative states as essential components of those reasons will help us pay attention to the contextual factors on which the reasonableness of our cognitive attitudes in fact depends. In addition, it will help us realize that there are different sorts of grounds and that our cognitive attitudes are reasonable only if they are based on grounds of a sort that is appropriate to the context at hand.

Moreover, I would call your attention to the fact that, although I am being “liberal” with respect reasons, I am remain fairly conservative when it comes to grounds for belief. Indeed, at the heart of my proposal is simply the idea that we ought not to reduce our reasons for a holding a cognitive attitude toward a proposition to the grounds on the basis of which we hold it.

[i] See also the discussion of reasons in Rescher (1988, chapter 1). Rescher (p. 3) recognizes three type of rationality or rational deliberation – cognitive rationality (whose “product” is factual contentions or beliefs), practical rationality (whose “product” is action recommendations or injunctions), and evaluative rationality (whose product is evaluation or appraisal). Note especially p.12, where “practical rationality” – unlike cognitive and evaluative rationality – has action directives among its inputs.
[ii] For example, the concept of reasons is central to Siegel 1988. And although I can’t find a succinct explanation in that book of what precisely Siegel takes reason to be, the most natural interpretation is to take him to be referring to propositions – see for example p. 26. Another example: when O’Keefe (1982, 13-15) explains “making an argument” in terms of “overtly expressed reasons” it is pretty clear that the reasons he is talking about are claims. Finally, note that for Rescher (1988, 12) the inputs to “purely factual” reasoning are “purported facts” – naturally construed, I think, as propositions
It’s perhaps worth noting that Michael Gilbert (1997), who want to call attention to the importance of conative elements in argumentation, seem to suggest that concentration on reasons (the concentration on CRCs or claim/reason complexes) gets in the way of seeing their importance of conative factors.
[iii] The pragma-dialectical model of argumentation provides for the application of such values in argumentation stage of argumentative discourse. In the opening stage, the participants agree on “(1) what propositions they will jointly accept without further argument and (2) how they will jointly decide on the acceptability of other propositions” (van Eemeren and Grootendorst 1984, 165). In the argumentation stage, issues about the acceptability of premisses are settled by appeal to those agreements – see rule 9 on p 168. An approach is also provided for meeting an attack on the justificatory or refutatory potential of an argument in the argumentation stage – see rule 10 on p. 169.
[iv] Harman (1986, 50) even toys with the idea that it is only limitations of our intellectual resources that forces us to end inquiry into a matter and consider it “closed.”
[v] Compare Goldman’s distinction between ex post and an ex ante senses of “justified” in Goldman 1988, 110.
[vi] Should we say that the grounds for accepting something – the propositions on which that acceptance is based – are reasons, or only that they are “included” in one’s reasons? I see no harm calling them reasons, even though I think that it is not strictly speaking correct. Where q is my ground for accepting p, what gives me a reason for accepting p is the fact that I accept q – and, moreover, q justifies my acceptance of p only where I am justified in accepting q. As I see it, my grounds are “contained in” my reasons because they are the propositional contents of the cognitive states which, more strictly speaking, constitute those reasons.
[vii] My account of acceptance bears some resemblance to Cohen 1992, chap. 1, where “to accept p is to have or adopt a policy of deeming, positing or postulating that p – i.e. of including that proposition or rule among one’s premisses for deciding what to do or think in a particular context, whether or not one feels it to be true that p” (p. 5). However, I find Cohen’s overall treatment in that chapter insufficiently sensitive to the context-dependence of acceptance. Harman (1986, 47-48) contrasts believing something with accepting it “as a working hypothesis” In belief or “full” acceptance, “one allows oneself to use P as part of one’s starting point in further theoretical and practical thinking” and one also “takes the issue to be closed in the sense that one is no longer investigating whether P is true.” Accepting P as a working hypothesis has the first, but not the second, of these features. To my mind, Harman’s account suffers from a failue to take into account the fact that whether one “allows oneself” to use P as a “starting point” is context-dependent.
[viii] Inferences and arguments that issue in intentions and other conative states that don’t quite fit this pattern. See my paper “Generalizing the notion of argument,” reprinted as chapter 2 of Pinto 2001. It is because of them that I speak here of only of what’s involved in drawing a “factual” conclusion.
[ix] On some of my reasons for wanting to view the premisses of inferences as accepted rather than as believed, see my paper “Truth and Premiss Adequacy” (Pinto forthcoming).
[x] This is so because the effect of concluding that p is precisely to render p available as a premiss in further inferences.
[xi] For purposes of this paper, I don’t want to assume any particular view about the nature of inference. My own view is presented in a quite general way in the paper “The relation of inference to argument,” reprinted as chapter 4 of Pinto 2001.
[xii] See the attempt to deal with different, but somewhat related questions in Goldman 1986, 109-113.
[xiii] Matters here are complicated by the phenomenon of belief perseverance – see for example Harman 1986, chapter 4, esp. pp. 35-40
[xiv] The standard way of handling this problem is to distinguish between the premisses of an inference and the rules which license one to draw a conclusion form those premisses. Since I am proposing to expand the category of reasons for belief/acceptance to include more than the premisses or grounds, it is especially important to insure a principled way of handling the Achilles/Tortoise problem is still available.

Carroll, Lewis (1895). What the Tortoise Said to Achilles. Mind 4, No. 14: 278-280.
Cohen, L.J. (1992). An Essay on Belief and Acceptance. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
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Gilbert, Michael. (1997). Coalescent Argument. Mahwah, N.J.: L. Erlbaum Associates.
Goldman, Alvin (1986). Epistemology and Cognition. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.
Goldman, Alvin (1988). What is justified belief? In: Hilalry Kornblith, ed., Nturalizing Epistemology (Cambridge, MA: MIT), 91-112. Originally appeared in George Pappas, ed., Justification and Knowledge (Dordrecht: Reidel, 1979).
Harman, Gilbert. (1986). Change in View. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
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Pinto, R. C. (2001). Argument, Inference and Dialectic. Dordrecht: Kluwer.
Pinto, R. C. (forthcoming). Truth and Premiss Adequacy. In: Hans V. Hansen, et. al., (eds.) Argumentation and its Applications CD-ROM (Windsor, ON: Ontario Society for the Study of Argumentation).
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