The Source Conflict Cost Criterion: A Pragmatic Approach to Floating Conclusions
Our research examines the problem of multiple lines of reasoning reaching the same conclusion, but only through different and unrelated arguments. In the context of non-monotonic logic, these types of conclusions are referred to as floating conclusions. The field of defeasible reasoning is divided between those who claim that floating conclusions ought not to be accepted through a prudent or skeptical point of view, whereas others argue that they are good enough conclusions to be admitted even from a conservative or skeptical standard. We approach the problem of floating conclusions through the formal framework of Inheritance Networks. These networks provide the simplest and most straightforward gateway into the technical aspects surrounding floating conclusions in the context of non-monotonic logic and defeasible reasoning. To address the problem of floating conclusions, we construct a unifying framework of analysis, namely, the Source Conflict Cost Criterion (SCCC), that contains two basic elements: source conflict and cost. Both elements are simplified through a binary model, through which we provide a comprehensive understanding of the floating conclusions as well as the problematic nature of the debate surrounding this type of inferences. The SCCC addresses three key objectives: (a) the assessment of floating conclusions and the debate surrounding its epistemological dimension, (b) the construction of a general and unified framework of analysis for floating conclusions, and (c) the specification of the normative conditions for the admission of floating conclusions as skeptically acceptable information.