Ralph Johnson (1993)

Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Windsor, Philosophy.

Citation: Within the Faculty of Arts, as well as in the University at large, Ralph has served with distinction on several committees mandated to improve teaching, the most recent being the Committee in Support of Teaching. While he clearly has the capabilities to assume important roles in full-time administration, Ralph has so far chosen to remain close to his students and to the Informal Logic movement in which he is regarded as an international leader. Not only is the textbook he co-authored among the very best available, but his tireless devotion to informal logic has had a significant impact on the teaching of informal logic, literally revolutionizing the field. His scholarly work in this area is well-known and respected, resulting in numerous invitations from throughout North American to give workshops on the teaching of informal logic and to assist with the creation of new programs.

Ralph is highly regarded not simply for his professional accomplishments, but for his personal qualities as well. He is a thinker of penetrating insight, an individual of unusual integrity, and a person of exceptional warmth and authenticity. He embodies the best of what the teaching profession is about. There is an intensity to his teaching that touches nearly every one of his students. It flows, in part, from his love of the subject and in part from his enthusiasm for teaching. What makes “Dr. J” (as he is affectionately known by his students) such an extraordinary instructor is his ability to combine the smooth and easy presentations of a more experienced lecturer with the freshness of a first timer. The high degree of respect and admiration students (both past and present) have for Ralph is a tribute to his professional conduct and superlative dedication as a teacher. Addresses:

  • “The Golden Age of Rock,” Laurier-Brantford Public Lecture Series, Brantford Campus of Wilfrid Laurier University, January 29, 2001.
  • “Dialectical Adequacy,” Department of Philosophy, McMaster University, March 9, 2001
  • “The Dialectical Tier Reconsidered,” Keynote Address, International Society for the Study of Argumentation, Amsterdam, June 26, 2002.
  • “Reflections on the Dialectical Tier,” Philosophy Department Colloquium, Michigan State University, October, 2002.
  • “Why ‘Visual Arguments” aren’t Arguments,” Informal Logic at 25, University of Windsor, May, 2003.


  • “What is Critical Thinking?” and “Teaching Critically,” Keynote presentations to Baker University Seminar on Critical Thinking, May 23, 2001.
  • “Teaching Critical Thinking,” Workshop for the Centre for Flexible learning, University of Windsor, November 2, 2001.
  • “The Agony and the Ecstasy,” Workshop for the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, McMaster University, June 14, 2002.


  • “Informal Logic: An Overview.” Informal Logic, 20.2 (2000), pp. 93-108.
  • “Manifest Rationality Reconsidered: Reply to My Fellow Symposiasts” Argumentation, 16:3 (2002), pp. 311-331.
  • “Interpreting Shell’s ‘Clear Thinking in Troubled Times,’” Informal Logic/Teaching Supplement, 21:3 (2002), Teaching Supplement, pp. 39-47.