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Abstract

It is widely assumed that legitimate differential allocations of the burden of proof are ubiquitous: that in all cases in which opposing views are being debated, one side has the responsibility of proving their claim and if they fail, the opposing view wins by default. We argue that the cases in which one party has the burden of proof are exceptions. In general, participants in reasoned discourse are all required to provide reasons for the claims they make. We distinguish between truth-directed and non-truth-directed discourse, argue that the paradigm contexts in which there are legitimate differential allocations of the burden of proof (law and formal debate) are non-truth-directed, and suggest that in truth-directed contexts, except in certain special cases, differential allocation of the burden of proof is not warranted.