ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ Current Trends In Educational Research On Argumentation. What Comes After Toulmin?

Abstract: Although many education researchers exclusively use Toulmin´s model, more and more scholars opt for other Informal logic tools, such as dialogue models or argumentation schemes. The present paper describes this tendency of slowly moving from Toulmin to other models and gives a narrow focus to those articles that use other argument models than Toulmin´s to analyze and assess students and/or teachers´ arguments. As a final contribution, we provide a taxonomy of argumentation tools used in educational research in relation to a number of variables such as type of task, age of participants, disciplinary subject, and main skills assessed as significant.

Keywords: argument analysis and assessment, education, skills, taxonomy, tools, Toulmin.

1. Introduction
Since the early beginning of the informal-plausible logic theories as a counter-balance to the existing formal-deductive ones, scholars from the informal logic field have made suggestions on how argumentation should be instructed, or what is important when teaching argumentation (e.g. Voss & Means, 1991; Voss, Perkins, & Segal, 1991). In its almost 50 years of existence, if we consider Kahane´s ¨Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric” (1971) as the first official informal logic manuscript as proposed by Johnson (2000), informal logic has expanded into many schools of thought, especially regarding how informal arguments should be analyzed and assessed. Among them, we distinguish the following for their applicability in education research and practice: dialogue analysis, which focuses on argument as a dialogical process taking place in a specific dialogue context in which participants make a series of “moves” forming strategic sequences or even a dialogue game (e.g. Felton & Kuhn, 2001; De Vries, Lund, & Baker, 2002; Felton, 2004; Mcalister, Ravenscroft, & Scanlon, 2004; Prakken, 2005); argumentation schemes, which is a device that aims to formalize (in the sense of giving structure to) everyday arguments mostly related to plausible reasoning (e.g. Walton, 1996; van Eemeren & Grootendorst, 2004; Walton, Reed, & Macagno, 2008; Rigotti & Morasso, 2010); and dialectics and pragmadialectics, which apply in conflict argumentative contexts where one of the opposing views is more sound or acceptable than the other(s) (e.g. Barth & Krabbe, 1982; Walton & Krabbe, 1995; van Eemeren & Grootendorst, 2004).

Notwithstanding the plethora of informal logic tools and methods of analysis and assessment proposed, there is a remarkable tendency among educational researchers to apply Toulmin´s Argumentation Pattern (TAP) as it was proposed in the late fifties (Toulmin, 1958). TAP´s main original contribution was to oppose to the mathematical standards in logic at the time. From an informal logic perspective, TAP is still considered an acceptable method, as several contemporary authors have successfully addressed questions that Toulmin´s model had provoked (see Hitchcock & Verheij, 2005, for an overview). In the field of education, some of the reasons for its predominance are the following: a) its strong connection with science and scientific reasoning (Duschl & Osborne, 2002); b) its success in coding large data protocols (Voss, 2005); and c) its easiness to use as a measurement of both teaching and learning performance (Erduran, Simon, & Osborne, 2004). On the other hand, TAP also received several criticisms, such as: a) the model concentrates on the proponent (Leitao, 2000), b) it can be difficult to structure reasoning in real time (Simon, Erduran, & Osborne, 2006), c) we should study argumentation in a more holistic and emergent manner rather than imposing an existing analytical pattern such as TAP (Sampson & Clark, 2009), and d) the scheme is restricted to short arguments and the categories impose ambiguities (Kelly, Druker, & Chen, 1998). Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ Linguistic Argumentation As A Shortcut For The Empirical Study Of Argumentative Strategies

Abstract: A recent interest for the empirical observation of argumentation through institutional practices was underlined by van Eemeren (2010). Since discourses give empirical hints which inform the observer on the institutional conventionalized practices involved in the study of strategic manoeuvring, there must be ways of describing meaning which allows to account for the dynamics of this field: a study of these ways is the object of this paper.

Keywords: empirical study of strategic manoeuvring, experiments in semantics, utterance meaning, sentence meaning, empirical observation of institutional practices, indirect observation, inhabited words, points of view, viewpoints semantics.

1. Introduction
Research in argumentation has acknowledged the important role of discourse in the study of argumentative strategies and manoeuvring. This acknowledgement is not recent; however, more recent is the inclusion, within the possible objects of research on argumentation, of the relationship between institutional contexts and argumentative discourse, via conventionalized institutional practices. The recent interest for the empirical observation of argumentation through institutional practices was underlined by van Eemeren (2010, p. 129) in these terms:

… the term argumentation [… also refers to] an empirical phenomenon that can be observed in a multitude of communicative practices which are recognized as such by the arguers. Because these communicative practices are generally connected with specific kinds of institutional contexts […] they have become conventionalized. Due to this context-dependency of communicative practices, the possibilities for strategic manoeuvring in argumentative discourse in such practices are in some respects determined by the institutional preconditions prevailing in the communicative practice concerned.

This new interest for an empirical approach to the relationship between institutional contexts and argumentative strategies, via communicative practices linked to institutional preconditions, opens a wide and important field of research, as van Eemeren convincingly shows it in his 2010 book.

As van Eemeren pointed out, the empirical study of this multidimensional space is possible because, among other reasons, all the terms of these relations are, at least partially, observable through discourse. Since discourse gives empirical hints to grasp the different facets of this space, it may be argued that there may be a way of describing meaning, which would allow to account, at lest partially, for the dynamics of those relations: this would provide a sort of shortcut to the description of argumentative strategies, as they are partially in-formed by the institutions. Obviously, such a shortcut lives aside an enormous part of the field opened by the abovementioned remarks. Nevertheless, for one who is ‘only’ interested in a better description of the semantics of natural languages, it offers interesting and rich perspectives.

This is what this paper is intended to show. We will also see that this shortcut is not a completely new idea in semantics: I will examine how several ideas borrowed from the paradigm of Argumentation Within Language can be adapted to an empirical study of the relationship between argumentation and the institutional constraints. Finally, I defend the idea that this shortcut is useful also for the one who is engaged in the complete study of the field: since most of what is observable in that field is discourse, it may be useful to make explicit the reasoning which compels to describe the institutional conventions the way we do. A rigorous semantic description is more than useful for this purpose.

Among the various ways of describing meaning that might meet those requirements, I emphasize the interest of several aspects of the so called “View-Point Semantics” (VPS), partially inspired by Mikhaïl Bakhtin’s work on the “inhabited” character of natural language words (see, for instance, Bakhtin (1929, p. 279), as well as by Oswald Ducrot’s work on the semantic constraints on argumentative orientation and strength (see, for instance, Ducrot (1988)). In particular, I insist on the technique it provides for, so to speak, extracting ideological and cultural preconditions from discourses, which inform the observer on the institutional conventionalized practices. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ Transparency In Legal Argumentation: Adapting To A Composite Audience In Administrative Judicial Decisions

Abstract: An important topic in the debate about transparency of the administration of justice includes the communicative function of judicial decisions. This function should be conceived as the judge’s aim to have his argumentation understood (the communicative effect), as well as to have it accepted (the interactional effect). In this paper I will analyse how the judge may maneuver strategically to achieve these effects on a composite audience. The analysis focuses on the communicative activity type of administrative judicial decisions.

Keywords: administrative law, audience demand, composite audience, judicial decisions, legal argumentation, legal opinions, Role-shifting.

1. Introduction
In a recent study (Broeders, Prins and Griffioen, 2013) that was conducted by the Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) it is argued that there is a need for `a more contemporary transparency of the administration of justice relative to the different ‘outside worlds’ with which it comes into contact.’ According to this study, the need for transparency has become urgent because of changes in society under the influence of globalisation, individualisation and populism. One of the topics in the debate about transparency includes the communicative function of judicial decisions.

From an argumentation theoretical perspective, the communicative function of a judicial decision should not only be conceived as the judge’s aim to have the argumentation underlying his decision understood (the communicative effect), but also to have his argumentation accepted (the interactional effect). The judge may be expected to have the intention to achieve these effects on the parties to the proceedings, his immediate addressees, as well as on a broader audience. Long before the current debate on transparency, literature on legal (argumentation) theory and on decision writing emphasized that, apart from the litigants in the case, the audience of the judge consists of members of the legal community (other judges, lawyers interested the decision), law students and the general public. In order to address such a so-called composite audience (van Eemeren, 2010) in his justification of the decision, the judge may make use of different techniques when maneuvering strategically.

A recent pilot study carried out in administrative courts in the Netherlands demonstrates that judges do at times, indeed, attempt to address a composite audience when justifying their decisions. In this contribution I will clarify which audiences may be addressed in administrative judicial decisions. Then I will analyse the way in which a judge may manoeuvre strategically to adjust his argumentation to these audiences. In view of this analysis I will start with a first attempt to characterize administrative judicial decisions as an argumentative activity type. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ Story Credibility In Narrative Arguments

Abstract: Recent work on narrative-based arguments has insisted on the importance, for assessment, of construing a theory of story “credibility” or “believability”. The main tenet of most approaches is the idea that a credible story should resemble “reality”. However, “narrative realism” is a rather problematic concept. The paper proposes a more nuanced, multi-dimensional and explicitly meta-argumentative approach to the assessment of arguments involving narratives, that would not prejudge their argumentative form or function.

Keywords: argument assessment, narrative argument, narrative rationality, narrative realism.

1. Introduction
Narrative argumentation, narration in arguments or the inherent narrativity of arguing and debating, are, no doubt, trendy topics in the field of argumentation theory. We heard several papers on these issues in last year’s OSSA 10th Conference and here in ISSA 2014, we have two complete panels labelled “Narrative argument”. Of course, this implies a certain variety of approaches and some clarifications as to the referents and the scope of my own paper are required.

First of all, even if I take W. Fisher’s narrative paradigm of rationality (1989 [1987]) as a truly attractive philosophical stance, that could yield interesting insights regarding the cognitive basis of our reasoning, I claim some of its assumptions may turn our attention away from the particularities of real discourse. If we assume that:
regardless of genre, discourse will always tell a story and insofar as it invites an audience to believe it or act on it, the narrative paradigm and its attendant logic, narrative rationality, are available for interpretation and assessment (Fisher, 1989, p. xi) there would be nothing specific to arguments involving explicit narratives as obvious parts or as a manifest linguistic strategy. Again, Fisher insists “When narration is taken as the master metaphor, it subsumes the others” (1989, p. 62). So my first clarification is that here I don’t mean to use “narrative” as a metaphor (however insightful) of what’s happening when we argue and listen to or interpret arguments; nor as the cognitive key (however revealing) to the widespread features of our species’ argumentative practices (as allegeddly Homo narrans). I will focus, instead, on the straightforward recognition of a variety of argument types and argumentative discourses in which the particular linguistic features and genre-specific qualities of narration play a significant role. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ Reasoning And Argumentative Complexity

Abstract: In this paper, I have investigated partially the relation between reasoning and argumentative complexity from the theoretical framework of text linguistics. For this purpose, I have explored both the ability underlying the activity of speaking (the ἐνέργεια) and the product created by this competence (the ἔργον). This work supports the hypothesis that the ability reasoning in terms of critical thinking (ἐνέργεια) of college students is related to formal argumentative complexity (ἔργον) of their discourses.

Keywords: argumentation, complexity, density, reasoning, thinking.

1. Purpose
This paper is part of research project Fondecyt Nª 1130584, whose main objective is to investigate the relation between reasoning and argumentative complexity from the theoretical framework of text linguistics. To this effect, I have explored partially both the ability underlying the activity of speaking (the ἐνέργεια) and the product that is created as result of this competence (the ἔργον).
From the first perspective, cognitive operations involved in this knowledge during the real activity of discursive production are suggested that, as proposed, are projected in the form of more or less complex, discursive texture or density, on the discourse. From the second, an initial evidence of argumentative complexity -based on the derivational property of propositions and from the notion of argumentative coherence that proceed of those- is provided.

2. Methodology
The work has followed an approach mixed quantitative and qualitative. In order to establish the capacity or level of ἐνέργεια of the subjects, 80 college students was tested applying the test Tasks in Critical Thinking, created in 1986 by an expert committee of the Educational Testing Service, United States. The tool considers both the multidimensionality of critical thinking and cognitive skills that it requires a priori in a test with 15 kinds of analytical reagents. The dimensions of the test considered are three: inquiry, communication and analysis.

In order to determine the degree of argumentative complexity of informants (ἔργον), I followed a qualitative approach, applying the procedures of grounded theory, through the Atlas / ti software.

3. Theoretical framework

3.1 Thought and language
The conception of a faint boundary between the notions of thought and language dates from Aristotle, when he says that the referents of the signs are the same for anybody (Aristóteles, 1986) to Wittgenstein, when he argues that the propositional sign applied is the thought (Wittgenstein, 2003).

Research in contemporary cognitive psychology, on the other hand, has shown that language is not the only cognitive capacity of the human being, but rather constitutes a module of a complex function which shares at least with the perception, memory, intelligence and thought; i.e., numerous specialized and relatively autonomous subsystems that, however, interact with each other to some extent. In this regard, it has been proposed that language is a cognitive module (Fodor, 1986) so that its mode of operation would not be found affected by the other components of cognition. In this context, and based on evidence such as FoxP2 protein of chromosome 7 (Marcus & Fisher, 2003), it is postulated that the language would, therefore, a specific skill, not dependent on other cognitive activities. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ Historical Inquiry Into Debate Education In Early 20th Century Japan: The Case Of Intercollegiate Debates In Yūben

Abstract: This paper analyzes intercollegiate debates hosted by Yūben (1910-1941), a monthly magazine specializing in oratory. From 1930 to 1935 Yūben held a total of 14 intercollegiate debates in which college students argued over such controversial topics as capital punishment. By examining the transcripts of the debates, relevant Yūben articles, and historical documents on academic debate in the United States, the paper seeks to trace the American influence on debate education in early 20th century Japan.

Keywords: American influence, history of debate, intercollegiate debate, modern Japan, Yūben

1. Introduction
This paper aims at shedding light on the influence of American-style academic debate in early 20th century Japan by scrutinizing intercollegiate debates hosted by Yūben (1910-1941), a monthly magazine specializing in oratory. Despite the fact that Yūben was the most influential publication devoted to promoting speech and, to a lesser extent, debate in Japan at the time, very few studies have been conducted to examine its role and impact. A close analysis of Yūben thus offers us a new window into debate education in pre-World War II Japan and thereby provides further historical insights into argument practices in non-Western societies.

From 1930 to 1935, Yūben held a total of 14 intercollegiate debates in which college students were invited to argue over controversial policy topics of the day such as capital punishment and international marriage. Importantly, the debates were billed as an experiment with the debate format being widely practiced in the West back then. While the first debate was allegedly modeled on the British style, the subsequent debates were in fact more similar to those practiced at American schools. More specifically, as opposed to the traditional (elocutionary and belles-lettristic) style of debate, the intercollegiate debates in Yūben emphasized research, the use of evidence, and a direct clash of arguments. Given that a similar shift from elocution to argumentation occurred in the United States around the same time, it can be surmised that contrary to popular belief, American debate practices continued to influence debate education in Japan during the 1920s and 30s. By examining the transcripts of the debates, relevant Yūben articles, and historical documents on academic debate in the United States, the paper seeks to trace the American influence on debate education in early 20th century Japan and to consider why Yūben was so eager to introduce American-style debate shortly before the breakout of the Pacific War.

2. Yüben in a historical perspective
As Aonuma, Morooka, and Senō (2013) note, “the modern Japanese forensic practice has always been under the American influence since its inception” (p. 1). It is telling that Yukichi Fukuzawa’s Kaigiben (How to Hold a Conference, 1874) and Sadamasu Ōshima[i] and Aikoku Horiguchi’s Kagi Bempō (Rules on Holding an Effective Conference, 1874), which were among the first books on Western debate in Japan, were renditions of James N. McElligott’s the American Debater and Luther Cushing’s Rules of Proceeding and Debate in Deliberative Assemblies, respectively. At the same time, the British influence was equally, if not more, noticeable in those days. For example, Kenkichi Ōi’s Kaigi Shinan (Instructions for Conducting a Meeting, 1878) and Gendō Nishimura’s Seiyō Tōron Kihan (The Principles of Western Debate, 1881) were both partial translations of Frederic Rowton’s the Debater.

Efforts to introduce the American and British styles of debate to Japan continued to be made in the first decade of the 20th century when Seiji Noma, founder of the major publishing house Kodansha (then named Dainihon Yūbenkai [the Great Japanese Oratorical Society]), launched Yūben. Published in February 1910, its inaugural issue was immediately sold out; the subsequent issues were also widely read among students, intellectuals, and politicians (Tomasi, 2004, p. 147). Rōichi Okabe (1987) elaborates on the role the magazine played in stimulating public interest in Western-style oratory:

Every month it carried diverse articles on Western rhetorical theory and practice, many texts of speeches delivered by prominent Japanese, and translated texts of speeches of British and American orators. This monthly magazine was instrumental in nurturing the seed of Western rhetoric on Japanese soil at the turn of the century and in promulgating learning and knowledge of the Western world to the enlightenment-conscious people of the late Meiji and early Taisho era (1912-1926). (p. 37)

Although Okabe’s article is highly informative especially for non-Japanese readers, it is not without problems. One shortcoming is its failure to separate speech from debate. While it is true that “[t]he Yūben magazine, especially during its first six years of publication, was instrumental in introducing American public address to Japanese cross-nationally” (Okabe, 1987, p. 49), articles on debate were few and far between in its early issues. Hence it is not clear if and how much Yūben sought to promote debate activities in those days. Although Yūben carried out written debate competitions (daikenshō tōronkai) twice for a brief period of time, they were not actual debates but a selection of readers’ opinions for and against pre-announced topics such as strengthening Japan’s naval forces. Moreover, while Yūben had frequently organized or sponsored speech meetings and oratorical contests since 1914 (Tomasi, 2004, p. 147), it had not been until 1930 that it began to hold a debate event. Read more

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