Recent Articles

If it is true that the mind extends out into the word, then we should expect to find some mind-like artifacts in the world. In keeping with this, some philosophers have suggested that images can be arguments. Images like these obviously lend support to individual premises (for instance, I have explored the cognitive contribution of diagrams like timelines in historical inquiry). However, in recent article in the journal Argumentation, Ahti-Veikko Pietarinen and I argue that the static nature of images prevents them from ever playing a genuinely argumentative role. To show this, we propose a dilemma. If visual arguments include their conclusion, then they risk begging the question. If visual arguments do not include their conclusion, then the content of an image must license only a subset of possible conclusions. We show how the examples presented in the argumentation theory literature fail to escape this dilemma. In a bid to sketch a positive alternative, we use the Existential Graphs of C. S. Peirce to show how images can be manipulated (erased, moved, increased, etc.) in a way that enables genuine visual reasoning. Static picturing of states of affairs may, as Wittgenstein once claimed, be a good way to describe the epistemic work done by propositions. Yet, if consciousness is an ever-moving stream and if arguments are nothing more than segments of that stream, then arguments must be processual too. We presented this argument at the 2018 meeting of the Canadian Philosophical Association in Montreal and are glad to now see that work in print.