A Study of argumentation in Turkish within a Bayesian reasoning framework : arguments from ignorance

Karaaslan, Hatice
In this dissertation, a normative prescriptive paradigm, namely a Bayesian theory of content-dependent argument strength, was employed in order to investigate argumentation, specifically the classic fallacy of the “argument from ignorance” or “argumentum ad ignorantiam”. The study was carried out in Turkish with Turkish participants. In the Bayesian framework, argument strength is determined by the interactions between three major factors: prior belief, polarity, and evidence reliability. In addition, topic effects are considered. Three experiments were conducted. The first experiment replicated Hahn et al.’s (2005) study in Turkish to investigate whether similar results would be obtained in a different linguistic and cultural community. We found significant main effects of three of the manipulated factors in Oaksford and Hahn (2004) and Hahn et al. (2005): prior belief, reliability and topic. With respect to the Bayesian analysis, the overall fit between the data and the model was very good. The second experiment tested the hypothesis that argument acceptance would not vary across different intelligence levels. There was no significant main effect of prior belief, polarity, topic, and intelligence. We found a main effect of reliability only. However, further analyses on significant interactions showed that more intelligent subjects were less inclined to accept negative polarity items. Finally, the third experiment investigated the hypothesis that argument acceptance would vary depending on the presence of and the kind of evidentiality markers prevalent in Turkish, indicating the certainty with which events in the past have happened, marked with overt morpho-syntactic markers (–DI or –mIş). The experiment found a significant main effect of evidentiality as well as replicating the significant main effects of the two of the manipulated factors (prior belief and reliability) in Oaksford and Hahn (2004), Hahn et al. (2005) and in our first experiment. Furthermore, reliability and evidentiality interacted, indicating separate as well as combined effects of the two. With respect to the Bayesian analysis, the overall fit between the data and the model was lower than the one in the first experiment, but still acceptable. Overall, this study supported the normative Bayesian approach to studying argumentation in an interdisciplinary perspective, combining computation, psychology, linguistics, and philosophy.


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Citation Formats
H. Karaaslan, “A Study of argumentation in Turkish within a Bayesian reasoning framework : arguments from ignorance,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2012.