Relevance Chapter uri icon

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abstract

  • Relevance is a triadic relation between an item, an outcome or goal, and a situation. Causal relevance consists in an item’s ability to help produce an outcome in a situation. Epistemic relevance, a distinct concept, consists in the ability of a piece of information (or a speech act communicating or requesting a piece of information) to help achieve an epistemic goal in a situation. It has this ability when it can be ineliminably combined with other at least potentially accurate information to achieve the goal. The relevance of a conversational contribution, premiss relevance and conclusion relevance are species of epistemic relevance thus defined. The conception of premiss relevance which results provides a basis for determining when the various ‘arguments ad’ called fallacies of relevance are indeed irrelevant. In particular, an ad verecundiam appeal is irrelevant if the authority cited lacks expertise in a cognitive domain to which the conclusion belongs, the authority does not exercise its expertise in coming to endorse the conclusion, or the conclusion does not belong to a cognitive domain; otherwise the ad verecundiam is relevant.

publication date

  • April 2017