Everyday Arguments and the Theory of Argumentation

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Sacks died early in his career, but his work was championed by others in his field, and CA has now become an established force in sociology, anthropology, linguistics, speech-communication and psychology. Recently CA techniques of sequential analysis have been employed by phoneticians to explore the fine phonetic details of speech. Empirical studies and theoretical formulations by Sally Jackson and Scott Jacobs, and several generations of their students, have described argumentation as a form of managing conversational disagreement within communication contexts and systems that naturally prefer agreement.

The basis of mathematical truth has been the subject of long debate. Frege in particular sought to demonstrate see Gottlob Frege, The Foundations of Arithmetic , , and Begriffsschrift , that arithmetical truths can be derived from purely logical axioms and therefore are, in the end, logical truths. If an argument can be cast in the form of sentences in Symbolic Logic, then it can be tested by the application of accepted proof procedures.

This has been carried out for Arithmetic using Peano axioms. Be that as it may, an argument in Mathematics, as in any other discipline, can be considered valid only if it can be shown that it cannot have true premises and a false conclusion. Perhaps the most radical statement of the social grounds of scientific knowledge appears in Alan G. Gross's The Rhetoric of Science Cambridge: Harvard University Press, Gross holds that science is rhetorical "without remainder", [10] meaning that scientific knowledge itself cannot be seen as an idealized ground of knowledge.

Scientific knowledge is produced rhetorically, meaning that it has special epistemic authority only insofar as its communal methods of verification are trustworthy. This thinking represents an almost complete rejection of the foundationalism on which argumentation was first based. Interpretive argumentation is pertinent to the humanities , hermeneutics , literary theory , linguistics , semantics , pragmatics , semiotics , analytic philosophy and aesthetics.

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Topics in conceptual interpretation include aesthetic , judicial , logical and religious interpretation. Topics in scientific interpretation include scientific modeling. Legal arguments are spoken presentations to a judge or appellate court by a lawyer, or parties when representing themselves of the legal reasons why they should prevail. Oral argument at the appellate level accompanies written briefs, which also advance the argument of each party in the legal dispute. A closing argument, or summation, is the concluding statement of each party's counsel reiterating the important arguments for the trier of fact, often the jury, in a court case.

A closing argument occurs after the presentation of evidence. Political arguments are used by academics, media pundits, candidates for political office and government officials. Political arguments are also used by citizens in ordinary interactions to comment about and understand political events. Political scientist Samuel L. Popkin coined the expression " low information voters " to describe most voters who know very little about politics or the world in general.

In practice, a " low information voter " may not be aware of legislation that their representative has sponsored in Congress. A low-information voter may base their ballot box decision on a media sound-bite, or a flier received in the mail. It is possible for a media sound-bite or campaign flier to present a political position for the incumbent candidate that completely contradicts the legislative action taken in the Capitol on behalf of the constituents.

When this happens, the constituency at large may have been duped or fooled. Nevertheless, the election result is legal and confirmed. Savvy Political consultants will take advantage of low-information voters and sway their votes with disinformation because it can be easier and sufficiently effective. Fact checkers have come about in recent years to help counter the effects of such campaign tactics. Psychology has long studied the non-logical aspects of argumentation. For example, studies have shown that simple repetition of an idea is often a more effective method of argumentation than appeals to reason.

Propaganda often utilizes repetition. Empirical studies of communicator credibility and attractiveness, sometimes labeled charisma, have also been tied closely to empirically-occurring arguments. Such studies bring argumentation within the ambit of persuasion theory and practice. Some psychologists such as William J.


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McGuire believe that the syllogism is the basic unit of human reasoning. A central line of this way of thinking is that logic is contaminated by psychological variables such as "wishful thinking", in which subjects confound the likelihood of predictions with the desirability of the predictions. People hear what they want to hear and see what they expect to see. If planners want something to happen they see it as likely to happen.

If they hope something will not happen, they see it as unlikely to happen. Thus smokers think that they personally will avoid cancer, promiscuous people practice unsafe sex, and teenagers drive recklessly. Stephen Toulmin and Charles Arthur Willard have championed the idea of argument fields, the former drawing upon Ludwig Wittgenstein's notion of language games , Sprachspiel the latter drawing from communication and argumentation theory, sociology, political science, and social epistemology. For Toulmin, the term "field" designates discourses within which arguments and factual claims are grounded.

Thomas Goodnight has studied "spheres" of argument and sparked a large literature created by younger scholars responding to or using his ideas. Field studies might focus on social movements, issue-centered publics for instance, pro-life versus pro-choice in the abortion dispute , small activist groups, corporate public relations campaigns and issue management, scientific communities and disputes, political campaigns, and intellectual traditions. This is not a quest for some master language or master theory covering all specifics of human activity.

Field theorists are agnostic about the possibility of a single grand theory and skeptical about the usefulness of such a theory. Theirs is a more modest quest for "mid-range" theories that might permit generalizations about families of discourses. By far, the most influential theorist has been Stephen Toulmin , the Cambridge educated philosopher and student of Wittgenstein.

Toulmin has argued that absolutism represented by theoretical or analytic arguments has limited practical value. Absolutism is derived from Plato's idealized formal logic, which advocates universal truth; thus absolutists believe that moral issues can be resolved by adhering to a standard set of moral principles, regardless of context. By contrast, Toulmin asserts that many of these so-called standard principles are irrelevant to real situations encountered by human beings in daily life.

To describe his vision of daily life, Toulmin introduced the concept of argument fields; in The Uses of Argument , Toulmin states that some aspects of arguments vary from field to field, and are hence called "field-dependent", while other aspects of argument are the same throughout all fields, and are hence called "field-invariant".

The flaw of absolutism, Toulmin believes, lies in its unawareness of the field-dependent aspect of argument; absolutism assumes that all aspects of argument are field invariant. Toulmin's theories resolve to avoid the defects of absolutism without resorting to relativism: In Human Understanding , Toulmin suggests that anthropologists have been tempted to side with relativists because they have noticed the influence of cultural variations on rational arguments; in other words, the anthropologist or relativist overemphasizes the importance of the "field-dependent" aspect of arguments, and becomes unaware of the "field-invariant" elements.

In an attempt to provide solutions to the problems of absolutism and relativism, Toulmin attempts throughout his work to develop standards that are neither absolutist nor relativist for assessing the worth of ideas. Toulmin believes that a good argument can succeed in providing good justification to a claim, which will stand up to criticism and earn a favourable verdict. In The Uses of Argument , Toulmin proposed a layout containing six interrelated components for analyzing arguments:. The first three elements "claim", "data", and "warrant" are considered as the essential components of practical arguments, while the second triad "qualifier", "backing", and "rebuttal" may not be needed in some arguments.

When first proposed, this layout of argumentation is based on legal arguments and intended to be used to analyze the rationality of arguments typically found in the courtroom; in fact, Toulmin did not realize that this layout would be applicable to the field of rhetoric and communication until his works were introduced to rhetoricians by Wayne Brockriede and Douglas Ehninger.

Only after he published Introduction to Reasoning were the rhetorical applications of this layout mentioned in his works. Toulmin's Human Understanding asserts that conceptual change is evolutionary. Kuhn held that conceptual change is a revolutionary as opposed to an evolutionary process in which mutually exclusive paradigms compete to replace one another.

Toulmin criticizes the relativist elements in Kuhn's thesis, as he points out that the mutually exclusive paradigms provide no ground for comparison; in other words, Kuhn's thesis has made the relativists' error of overemphasizing the "field variant" while ignoring the "field invariant", or commonality shared by all argumentation or scientific paradigms. Toulmin proposes an evolutionary model of conceptual change comparable to Darwin's model of biological evolution. On this reasoning, conceptual change involves innovation and selection.

Innovation accounts for the appearance of conceptual variations, while selection accounts for the survival and perpetuation of the soundest conceptions. Innovation occurs when the professionals of a particular discipline come to view things differently from their predecessors; selection subjects the innovative concepts to a process of debate and inquiry in what Toulmin considers as a "forum of competitions". The soundest concepts will survive the forum of competition as replacements or revisions of the traditional conceptions.

From the absolutists' point of view, concepts are either valid or invalid regardless of contexts; from a relativists' perspective, one concept is neither better nor worse than a rival concept from a different cultural context. From Toulmin's perspective, the evaluation depends on a process of comparison, which determines whether or not one concept will provide improvement to our explanatory power more so than its rival concepts.

In Cosmopolis , Toulmin traces the quest for certainty back to Descartes and Hobbes, and lauds Dewey, Wittgenstein, Heidegger and Rorty for abandoning that tradition. Scholars at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands have pioneered a rigorous modern version of dialectic under the name pragma-dialectics. The intuitive idea is to formulate clearcut rules that, if followed, will yield rational discussion and sound conclusions. The theory postulates this as an ideal model, and not something one expects to find as an empirical fact.

The model can however serve as an important heuristic and critical tool for testing how reality approximates this ideal and point to where discourse goes wrong, that is, when the rules are violated. Any such violation will constitute a fallacy. Albeit not primarily focused on fallacies, pragma-dialectics provides a systematic approach to deal with them in a coherent way. Doug Walton developed a distinctive philosophical theory of logical argumentation built around a set of practical methods to help a user identify, analyze and evaluate arguments in everyday conversational discourse and in more structured areas such as debate, law and scientific fields.

The method uses the notion of commitment in dialogue as the fundamental tool for the analysis and evaluation of argumentation rather than the notion of belief. According to the commitment model, agents interact with each other in a dialogue in which each takes its turn to contribute speech acts.

The dialogue framework uses critical questioning as a way of testing plausible explanations and finding weak points in an argument that raise doubt concerning the acceptability of the argument. Walton's logical argumentation model takes a different view of proof and justification from that taken in the dominant epistemology in analytical philosophy, which is based on a justified true belief framework.

On this evidence-based approach, scientific knowledge must be seen as defeasible. Efforts have been made within the field of artificial intelligence to perform and analyze the act of argumentation with computers.

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Argumentation has been used to provide a proof-theoretic semantics for non-monotonic logic , starting with the influential work of Dung Computational argumentation systems have found particular application in domains where formal logic and classical decision theory are unable to capture the richness of reasoning, domains such as law and medicine. In Elements of Argumentation , Philippe Besnard and Anthony Hunter show how classical logic-based techniques can be used to capture key elements of practical argumentation.

ArgMining is a workshop series dedicated specifically to the related argument mining task. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Conversation analysis and Discourse analysis. Philosophy of science and Rhetoric of science. Oral argument and Closing argument. Argument mapping and Argumentation framework. Van Eemeran, Rob Grootendorst Published by the Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge.

Argumentation Theory

Handbook of argumentation theory. Fifteen Years of Identity Crisis. Wenzel "Perspectives on Argument. Jack Rhodes and Sara Newell, ed. A Quest for Distinctions. Conversation Analysis, Thousand Oaks: Argumentation is appropriate only when you are able to use arguments that are able to help you arguing against another person.

For resolving differences a theory on argumentation should have a set of standards. The term dialectical procedure is mentioned as a depending element on efficient arguing on solving differences. Van Eemeren and Grootendorst identify various stages of argumentative dialogue. Presentation of the problem, such as a debate question or a political disagreement.

Agreement on rules, such as for example, how evidence is to be presented, which sources of facts are to be used, how to handle divergent interpretations, determination of closing conditions. Application of logical principles according to the agreed-upon rules. When closing conditions are met. These could be for example, a time limitation or the determination of an arbiter.

Note that these stages are indispensable. Schellens uses a typology which differentiates between restricted and unrestricted argumentation schemes. Restricted schemes are limited to a certain conclusion. The group restricted argumentation schemes can be divided into three different parts 1 Regularity-based argumentation Schellens, Argumentation is given for a proposition of a factual or descriptive nature on the basis of a regularly recurring empirical link.

Arguments are given for a statement of a normative nature 3 Pragmatic argumentation: In addition to these restricted argumentation schemes, Schellens also distinguishes three unrestricted forms; argumentation from authority, argumentation from example and argumentation from analogy. These schemas are not limited to a conclusion of a type, but have a wider application.

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The Uses of Argument Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Argumentation theory is an interdisciplinary field which attracts attention from philosophers, logicians, linguists, legal scholars, speech communication theorists, etc. The theory is grounded in conversational, interpersonal communication, but also applies to group communication and written communication.

See also Language Theories and Linguistics. Argumentation analysis of persuasive messages Schellens uses a typology which differentiates between restricted and unrestricted argumentation schemes. Scope and Application Argumentation theory is an interdisciplinary field which attracts attention from philosophers, logicians, linguists, legal scholars, speech communication theorists, etc.

Example To be added. References Key publications Toulmin, S. The uses of argument. A systematic theory of argumentation. Fundamentels of Argumentation Theory. U of Alabama P. The Rhetoric of Science. U of Chicago P. The Theory of Communicative Action. Argumentation Theory and the Rhetoric of Assent. A theory of legal argumentation: The theory of rational discourse as theory of legal justification R.