ISSA Proceedings ~ Argumentative Moves In An Inquisitive Context About Psychological Harassment In The Workplace: A Case Study In Québec

Abstract: We summarize a recently (2013) completed doctoral research, which analyzed and commented a series of interviews led by four public servants, the mission of which was to ascertain admissibility for further inquiry, of claims of psychological harassment on the workplace by complainants, in Québec province (Canada). We combine with Argumentation and Rhetoric tools and concepts a Conversation Analysis (CA) perspective, showing how meaning obtains in speech acts constructed in interaction.

Keywords: Interviews, psychological harassment, argumentation, conversation analysis, rhetoric, admissibility, speech acts

1. Introduction
This proposal looks at argumentative strategies between complainants and investigators around harassment issues at work. A recently (2013) completed doctoral research analyzed and commented, from an argumentative point of view, a very specific corpus: a series of four interviews, totalizing ten hours, led by four public servants, the mission of which was to ascertain a first recognition of validity for further inquiry, of claims of psychological harassment on the workplace by complainants, in Québec province (Canada). The interviews having taken place in 2006, using a convention taking back accepted notations. One interesting theoretical achievement done in the research is probably to combine a Conversation Analysis (CA) perspective, claiming that meaning obtains in speech acts constructed in interaction, with argumentative figures and cues taken in Aristotle, Perelman, Walton and Van Eemeren.

In the context of a doctoral research in philosophy (Ph.D.), we wanted to study specific discourses that certainly have a rhetorical dimension: claims of psychological harassment presented by plaintiffs and their treatment by investigators. Different conceptual and methodological tools have been used, which are coming from rhetoric, argumentation studies and also from Conversation Analysis (CA). The notions of logos, ethos and pathos were examined and used in the analysis of a corpus of scripts of taped argumentative exchanges, between complainants and investigators; details and conventions utilized are given below. We will start by providing the social and professional context of the study, recall briefly Aristotle’s notions, then look at Perelman’s notion of the audience’s adhesion, with some contributions of Van Eemeren and Walton; we will limit ourselves to specific elements of these theories here. Then the research method used, by reference to CA, will be explained briefly while we will be finishing with the presentation of a few examples illustrating our main results about the rhetorical effects of narrative accounts of psychological harassment in the context of specific investigative interactions.

2. Research context
Our research context was provided by a public organization, the Commission des normes du travail (CNT), which is a Labour Standards Commission having its jurisdiction in Québec, Canada. People who have suffered for different reasons at work, can file complaints in front of that organism for psychological harassment, the complaints are then treated by professionals. Since 2004, it is possible in Québec for a worker (blue or white collar) to file such a complaint, with the aims of putting an end to the problematic situation. The law that clarifies the recourse determines the nature of manifestations that can be associated with psychological harassment; the text refers to notions such as “A vexatious behaviour in the form of repeated conduct, verbal comments, actions or gestures that are hostile or unwanted, that affect the employee’s dignity or psychological or physical integrity and make the work environment harmful”, (L.Q. 2002, c.80). This sentence includes a number of possible situations which resonates with workers who experience different forms of suffering in the workplace. These possible victims can then refer to CNT as a public office, even though the procedure will represent an enormous challenge for people who feel they were or still are being harassed at work. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ That’s No Argument! The Ultimate Criticism?

Abstract: What if in discussion the critic refuses to recognize an emotionally expressed (alleged) argument of her interlocutor as an argument? In this paper, we shall deal with this reproach, which taken literally amounts to a charge of having committed a fallacy of non-argumentation. As such it is a very strong, if not the ultimate, criticism, which even carries the risk of abandonment of the discussion and can, therefore, not be made without burdening oneself with correspondingly strong obligations. We want to specify the fallacies of non-argumentation and their dialectic, i.e., the proper way to criticize them, the appropriate ways for the arguer to react to such criticism, and the appropriate ways for the critic to follow up on these reactions. Among the types of fallacy of non-argumentation, the emphasis will be on the appeal to popular sentiments (argumentum ad populum). Our aim is to reach, for cases of (alleged) non-argumentation, a survey of dialectical possibilities. By making the disputants themselves responsible for the place of emotion in their dialogues, we hope to contribute to a further development of the theory of dialectical obligations.

Keywords: Abandonment of discussion, Ad populum, Criticism, Dialogue, Emotion, Fallacy, Non-Argumentation, Ultimate criticism

1. Introduction
In this paper, we want to study the so-called fallacies of non-argumentation and the corresponding kind of fallacy criticism: the accusation of having presented no argument at all. This may count as a sort of ultimate criticism.
Generally, fallacy criticisms point out a problem and ask for repair so that in a metadialogue (a dialogue about the dialogue) one may deal with the problem. But an accusation of “non-argumentation” denies that there even is an argument. Therefore it seems to leave no room for any amendments or further discussion. Let us look at an example. It’s from the ongoing discussion about gay marriage.
When last year the Republican Senator Rob Portman decided to support same-sex marriage, the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, was asked what he thought about that. Boehner then rejected gay marriage by an expression of his gut feelings about it. This again led to an accusation of non-argumentation:

CASE 1: Gay marriage
Asked about Portman’s change of heart, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) explained on ABC’s This Week, “I believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.”
Asked if his position might change, Boehner explained and elaborated (not really):
“Listen, I believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. … It’s what I grew up with. It’s what I believe. It’s what my church teaches me. And I can’t imagine that position would ever change.” (Leon 2013, italics as in the original)

Commentator Michael Leon criticizes Boehner by a charge of non-argumentation: Boehner’s repeated assertions that he feels this way because he believes this way is not an argument […] (Leon 2013, italics as in the original).

This case is not so simple as it may appear. For one thing, in order for a fallacy charge of non-argumentation to be appropriate, the accused should be in a position where he or she is indeed expected to provide an argument. A mere expression of one’s opinion, where this opinion has not been called into question, cannot amount to a fallacy of non-argumentation. Leon seems to suppose that in the case he considers this condition has been met; probably, because politicians are supposed to argue. Further, there must really be no reconstructable argument. In Case 1, however, this is doubtful since Boehner invokes the teaching of his church, which amounts to a – be it rudimentary – argument from authority. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ The Study Of Reasoning In The Lvov-Warsaw School As A Predecessor Of And Inspiration For Argumentation Theory

Abstract: The hypothesis proposed in this paper holds that the Polish logico-methodological tradition of the Lvov-Warsaw School (LWS) has a chance to become an inspiring pillar of argumentation studies. To justify this claim we show that some ideas regarding classifications of reasoning may be applied to enrich the study of argument structures and we argue that Frydman’s constructive account of legal interpretation of statutes is an important predecessor of contemporary constructivism in legal argumentation.

Keywords: classifications of reasoning, argument structures, schemes for fallacious reasoning, legal constructivism, the Lvov-Warsaw School

1. Introduction
The motivation for this paper lies in exploring possible applications of the heritage of the Lvov-Warsaw School (LWS) in argumentation theory. After presenting a wider map of current research strands and future systematic applications of the LWS tradition in contemporary argument studies (Koszowy & Araszkiewicz, 2014), in this paper we focus on the study of reasoning as one particular area of inquiry which constituted the core concern of the LWS. The main justification of the need of focusing on the inquiry into the nature of reasoning in the LWS is twofold. Firstly, it manifests clearly that apart from purely formal accounts, the School elaborated the broader pragmatic approach to reasoning which may be also of interest for argumentation theorists. Secondly, it may be particularly inspiring for contemporary argument studies because of the possibility of applying it in (i) argument reconstruction and representation and (ii) identifying the structure of fallacious reasoning.

The research hypothesis proposed in this paper holds that the Polish logico-methodological tradition of the Lvov-Warsaw School (LWS) has a chance to become an important theoretical pillar of contemporary study of argumentation. This hypothesis may be justified by undertaking systematic inquiry which would show that some key ideas of the LWS may be applied in developing some crucial branches of the contemporary study of argumentation. In order to argue that such an inquiry is a legitimate research project, we will show that apart from the developments of formal logic which are associated with the works of such outstanding logicians and philosophers as Tarski, Leśniewski or Łukasiewicz, in the LWS there was also present a strong pragmatic movement which may be associated e.g. with the works of Ajdukiewicz. Moreover, our aim is also to show that even ‘purely formal’ approaches to reasoning (e.g. the theory of rejected propositions proposed by Łukasiewicz) may turn out to be inspiring for argument analysis and representation.

In this paper, we will discuss two areas of applying ideas of LWS: argumentation schemes and legal argumentation. The aim of the paper will be accomplished in following steps. In section 2 we will sketch an outline of those research areas in the LWS which might be particularly interesting for argument studies. This preparatory discussion will constitute an introduction to Section 3 which is aimed at discussing the issue of applicability of LWS ideas regarding classifications of reasoning in argument representation. In Section 4, we will discuss the second area of applying the tradition of LWS in the study of argumentation is the domain of legal argumentation. We will argue that Frydman’s constructive account of legal interpretation of statutes (1936) is an important predecessor of a contemporary view in theory of legal argumentation referred to as constructivism and advanced for instance by Hage (2013). Finally, in the concluding section, we will sketch an answer to the question of how the two specific contexts discussed in the paper form a good starting point for a broader research project concerning application of methods and ideas developed in the LWS to contemporary open problems of argumentation theory. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ Classifying Argumentation/Reasoning Schemes Proper Within The New Rhetoric Project

Abstract: Previous research on the New Rhetoric Project’s classification categories for argumentation/reasoning schemes has dismissed three overarching categories – association, dissociation, and breaking of connecting links, and focused on specific schemes proper. Challenging this communal understanding of the Project about the classification of schemes proper, this article will reconfigure the relationship between the overarching categories and schemes proper. In this process, a forth overarching category, or ‘re-confirming of connecting links’ will be proposed and defended.

Keywords: adherence, argumentation/reasoning schemes proper, association, audience, breaking of connecting links, dissociation, New Rhetoric Project (NRP), and re-configuring of connecting links

1. Introduction
Since Arthur Hastings’ dissertation on mode of reasoning was re-discovered in mid-1980s, research on argumentation/reasoning schemes[i] has flourished. Pragma-Dialecticians, rhetoricians, informal logicians, and computer scientists have written on the topic, which has helped argumentation schemes to gain presence within the community of argumentation scholars.

Before the research on argumentation schemes became significant, Chaim Perelman and Lucie-Olbrechts Tyteca examined various schemes/techniques of argumentation in their New Rhetoric Project (NRP). In classifying argumentation schemes proper, the NRP offers three overarching categories: association, dissociation, and breaking of connecting links. With association, arguers assemble entities that are thought to be different into a single unity, using techniques such as quasi-logical arguments, arguments based on the structure of the real, and arguments establishing the structure of the real. Each of these subcategories have their sub-subcategories under which specific argumentation schemes proper, such as argument from sign, analogical argument, or causal argument are discussed.

With dissociation, arguers dissemble what is originally thought to be a single unified entity into two or more different entities by introducing criteria for differentiation. Using dissociation, they help their audience members see the situation in a new light and attempt to persuade them to accept it. In short, dissociation attempts to establish a conceptual distinction and a hierarchy within what is believed to be a single and united entity.

In discussing dissociation, the NRP briefly refers to breaking of connecting links as a third category. This third category is referred to as opposition to the establishment of the connection, interdependence, or unity constructed by association.

In the first three chapters we examined connecting links in argumentation that have the effect of making interdependent elements that could originally be considered independent. Opposition to the establishment of such an interdependence will be displayed by a refusal to recognize the existence of a connecting link. Objection will, in particular, take the form of showing that a link considered to have been accepted, or one that was assumed or hoped for, does not exist, because there are no grounds for stating or maintaining that certain phenomena under consideration exercise an influence on those which are under discussion and it is consequently irrelevant to take the former into account. (Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca, 1969, p. 411)

In the breaking of connecting links, audience members mistakenly accept or assume that a key entity in the premise constitutes one and the same unity at the beginning of argumentation when it is actually made up of distinctively different entities; the inferential process reveals the audience members’ confusion and advances the thesis that reveals the distinction that exists. Forcing the audience members to recognize their confusion and understand the lack of connection can be substantiated “by actual or mental experience, by changes in the conditions governing a situation, and, more particularly, in the sciences, by the examination of certain variables” (Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca, 1969, p. 411).

While the NRP does not claim to be exhaustive in its treatment of argumentation schemes, the three categories seem to be general enough to encompass different scheme types. However, argumentation scholars have criticized its weaknesses (Eemeren, Garssen, Krabbe, Henkemans, Verheij, and Wagemans, 2014, pp. 291-292; Kienpointner, 1987, p. 39). A strong criticism against the NRP on its treatment of argumentation schemes proper comes from Kienpointner. He states that:

(T)he same scheme can be seen as means of association and dissociation, or with other words, means of justification and refutation. As most dissociative pairs correspond to associative schemes (which correspond on their turn to the types of warrants of the standard catalogue), I content myself to present the associative schemes. (Kienpointner, 1987, p. 283)

With this line of criticism he denies the necessity of the overarching categories of association, dissociation, and breaking of connecting links. Instead, he examines only argumentation schemes proper used for association, disregarding ones used for dissociation. Since his criticism denies the need for the triad categories and urges us to focus only on argumentation schemes proper, it constitutes a serious challenge to the NRP’s classification of argumentation. Therefore, it calls for our investigation. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ Argumentation From Analogy In Migrants’ Decisions

Abstract: Basing on the Argumentum Model of Topics (AMT) within the general framework of a pragma-dialectical viewpoint on argumentation, this paper analyses the role of argumentation from analogy in international migrants’ decision-making processes on the basis of a corpus of interviews to migrant mothers resident in the greater London area. Reasoning from analogy allows evaluating pragmatic decisions – such as leaving one’s home country, staying over in a foreign country, etc. –in terms of feasibility and reasonableness.

Keywords: Argumentation from analogy, loci, international migration, migration strategy, inner argumentation, functional genus.

1. Introduction
In the framework of analysis of contextualised argumentative discourse, this paper approaches argumentation from analogy in international migrants’ decision making processes. International migration is a phenomenon which can be approached in a variety of dimensions and contexts, from families to institutions, to media portraits of migration. Amongst these contexts, a significant case in which an argumentative analysis may help shed light on the phenomenon of migration is family and individual decision processes concerning the decision to migrate or (not) to go back to one’s home country.

In the literature on international migration, general terms to describe the reason why individuals migrate are defined push/pull factors or migration determinants (cf. Castles and Miller 2009: 21ff). These terms, however, only cover general concepts that tend to identify social tendencies without explaining individual trajectories and objectives. Other authors introduce the notion of migration strategy in order to more specifically account for the long-term goals and projects of the individuals who opt for international migration. For example, in studying strategies of Polish migrants to the UK, Eade (2007) distinguishes (amongst other categories) between hamsters, who consider their stay in the UK as a one-off act, intending to return to their home country as soon as they have accumulated enough capital; and searchers, namely “those who keep their options deliberately open”, thus being characterized by “intentional unpredictability” (Eade 2007: 34). Approaching individual migration strategies from an argumentative viewpoint means casting a new light on the individual goals and reasons why each migrant chooses to start a migration trajectory, thus allowing a nuanced view of this phenomenon. With the intention of moving forward on this path, I consider international migration from an argumentative viewpoint in the framework of personal decision-making strategies, thus also approaching the field of inner argumentation (Greco Morasso 2013).

Amongst the possible argument schemes used by migrants in their inner argumentative dialogue, I claim that a significant role is played by argumentation from analogy, allowing migrants to compare their present situation, in which a decision whose effects are uncertain has to be faced, with other more familiar situations. In migrants’ decision making, the locus from analogy appears as a prominent feature, both in terms of frequency of occurrence and in strategic terms, because it is often subservient to the crucial decision of leaving one’s country as well as to equally important decisions, such as to return or not to return (Finch et al. 2009). Some examples of migrants’ argumentation from analogy have been shown in Greco Morasso (2013). In this paper, I will claim that analogical reasoning is never the ultimate basis on which a migrant decides to leave (or not to leave), but it is part of a more complex reasoning process. Arguments from analogy, in fact, seem to mainly serve the purpose of evaluating the feasibility of a certain migration strategy.

In order to discuss this topic, I will proceed as follows. Section 2 will situate this work in a theoretical framework on argumentation and, in particular, on the approach to argument schemes that will be adopted. The data on which the analysis is based will be presented in section 3 and analysed in section 4, while section 5 will present some general discussion about the main results of the analysis. Finally, possible openings of this research will be discussed in section 6. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ The Ubiquity Of The Toulmin Model In U.S. Education: Promise And Peril

Abstract: Secondary and university instructors in the United States rely heavily on the Toulmin model to teach written argumentation. To date, pragma-dialectics (van Eemeren and Grootendorst 2004; van Eemeren 2010) is not a visible presence in American composition textbooks. This session encouraged writing consultants to ask critical questions not only associated with Toulmin’s model but also those of the pragma-dialectic model of critical discussion in order to improve the critical thinking of writers.

Keywords: composition, critical thinking, critical questions, pragma-dialectics, teaching, Toulmin model, United States of America, writing

1. Introduction
Both secondary and university instructors in the United States of America rely heavily on the Toulmin model to teach written argumentation (Hillocks 2011; Ramage, Bean and Johnson 2001; Smith, Wilhelm, and Fredricksen 2012). No other theoretical models of arguments are as prominent in composition textbooks and curricula.

Because of the emphasis on argumentative writing in Common Core State Standards (newly adopted in many U.S. states), a flurry of new books and curricula on teaching argumentation have been published in the last five years. One can see how predominant the Toulmin model is by simply flipping the pages of Teaching Argument Writing by George Hillocks (2011, xix) and Oh Yeah? Putting Argument to Work Both in School and Out by Michael W. Smith, Jeffrey Wilhelm, and James Fredricksen (2012, 12). Teachers have questions. They need good resources. The Toulmin model is the backbone of most argumentative writing curricula in the United States because it meets real needs. It is helpful because it defines a vocabulary for the elements of an argument; and it visually illustrates the relationship between claims, data, and warrants. When facing common problems in writing instruction, the Toulmin model provides a schema for diagnosis and treatment.

Because student writers struggle to compose written arguments, teachers do need solid understandings to help students improve. Perhaps the Toulmin model is a popular frame for argumentative writing curricula because it allows teachers to focus attention on problems that often occur with key elements of arguments: claim, data, warrant, backing, qualifiers, and conditions of rebuttal. Helping students to invent and include these elements in their papers is much of the substance of current argumentation curricula.

In this article, I want to step back and look at this reliance on the Toulmin model from the distance afforded me by a sabbatical at the University of Amsterdam, where the pragma-dialectical model of argumentation holds the privileged place that Toulmin’s does in the U.S.A. (Van Eemeren and Grootendorst 2004; Van Eemeren 2010). I am beginning to wonder whether some of the problems that teachers face when teaching argumentative writing might be problems not that the Toulmin model can help them to effortlessly solve, but ones that a reliance on Toulmin might be intensifying. Read more

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