ArgLab • Colloquium

Hans V. Hansen

From Whately to Toulmin; the Growth of Informal Logic

What is the connection between Richard Whately and Stephen Toulmin in the history of ideas? The connection, I maintain, is not with Whately’s work on rhetoric, but rather with his equally important book, Elements of Logic. In the broadest strokes, the history goes like this: John Stuart Mill reacted to Whately by substituting his inductivism for deductivism. Charles Peirce, who was introduced to the study of logic through reading Whately’s book, tried to reconcile Whately and Mill. Both Mill and Peirce acknowledge their debt to Whately. Strangely, Toulmin, someone we think of as valuing the history of ideas, failed to see how his view of the lay-out of arguments was a continuation of Mill’s and Peirce’s work, which in turn had been stimulated by Whately’s work. In my discussion, I try to connect the dots to show that “From Whately to Toulmin” is an important chapter in the development of informal methods of logical argument evaluation.


Dr. Hans V. Hansen, University of Windsor