Abstract: For the development of computation tools to support the pragma-dialectical analysis of argumentative texts, a formal approximation of the pragma-dialectical ideal model of a critical discussion theory is required. A basic dialogue game for critical discussion is developed as the foundation for such formal approximation. To this basic dialogue game, which has a restricted complexity, the more complex features of critical discussion can gradually be added.
Keywords: computerisation, critical discussion, dialogue game, formalisation, pragma-dialectics.
1. Formalisation in preparation of computerisation
Formalisation is one of the important developments in the field of argumentation theory emphasised by van Eemeren in his keynote address at the 8th ISSA conference. My contribution to the ISSA conference deals with the formalisation of one theory of argumentation: the pragma-dialectical theory (van Eemeren & Grootendorst, 2004; van Eemeren et al., 2014, pp. 517-613). This study is intended to contribute to a more encompassing research project, the overall goal of which is to create a formal foundation for a computational application of the pragma-dialectical theory.
The computational application of argumentation theory in general has developed into several directions, as is evident from, e.g., the overviews by Rahwan and Simari (2009) and van Eemeren et al. (2014, pp. 615-675). Instead of trying to formalise and computerise every possible application of the pragma-dialectical theory at once, the current aim is to create a foundation for computational tools to support the analysis of argumentative discourse. Although fully computerised pragma-dialectical analysis will presumably not be feasible for quite some time, smaller digital tools to assist human analysts in their analytical tasks can be realised on a shorter term.
One area in which such a smaller tool can offer support is the composition of the analytic overview. As the outcome of a (standard) pragma-dialectical analysis of an argumentative text, the analytic overview “brings together systematically everything that is relevant to the resolution of a difference of opinion” (van Eemeren & Grootendorst, 2004, p. 118).[i] In order to arrive at an analytic overview, the analyst applies a two-step method. First, the ideal model of a critical discussion (van Eemeren & Grootendorst, 2004, pp. 42-68) is used as a heuristic to determine which parts of the original text are (or can be considered as) argumentatively relevant. By applying four analytical transformation, the original text is reconstructed in terms of a critical discussion (van Eemeren et al., 1993, pp. 61-62). In the second step, an analytic overview is abstracted from this reconstruction. The composition of the analytic overview is fully determined by the content of the reconstruction in terms of a critical discussion. Based on the discussion moves made by discussants in the analytical reconstruction, the following is determined as part of the analytic overview: the nature of the difference of opinion, the distribution of discussion roles, the starting points, the arguments, the structure of the argumentation and the argument schemes (van Eemeren & Grootendorst, 2004, pp. 118-119).
To develop a computational tool to support analysts in composing an analytic overview on the basis of a reconstruction of the original text in terms of a critical discussion, it is necessary to have a computational representation of the relations between the possible variations in the constitutive parts of the ideal model and those of the analytic overview. Preliminary to these relations, computational representations of the ideal model of a critical discussion, and of the analytic overview themselves are necessary. In the current paper a preparatory step towards the computational representation of the ideal model of a critical discussion is made by formalising part of the ideal model. Read more
ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ The Disguised Ad Baculum Fallacy Empirically Investigated – Strategic Maneuvering With Threats
Ad baculum threats can be seen as a mode of strategic maneuvering which takes on a reasonable appearance in real life situations when it mimics, legitimate pragmatic argumentation. In this paper the hypothesis was tested that ad baculum fallacies are seen as less unreasonable than clear cases when they are presented as if they are well-meant advices in which the speaker cannot be held responsible for the occurrence of the unpleasant consequences if he does not get his way.
Keywords: argumentum ad baculum, pragma-dialectics, pragmatic argumentation, strategic maneuvering
1. The argumentum ad baculum in the standard theory of pragma-dialectics
Threatening the other discussion party with negative, unpleasant consequences – for instance, by threatening him with physical violence or (more subtly) by threatening him implicitly with sanctions – if that party is not willing to refrain from advancing a particular standpoint or from casting doubt on a particular standpoint, is an outspoken example of a fallacy (“Of course, you can hold that view, but then you should realize that it will very hard for me to control my men in response to you”). Not surprisingly, this particular type of fallacy (conventionally named the argumentum ad baculum or the ‘fallacy of the stick’) has become firmly incorporated in the traditional lists of fallacies presented in introductory textbooks in (informal) logic and argumentation (cf. Walton 2000).
Seen from the perspective of the standard theory of pragma-dialectics (van Eemeren & Grootendorst 1992; 2004), the argumentum ad baculum is an example of fallacies violating the Freedom Rule (i.e. the rule for governing the first stage of a critical discussion, the confrontation stage, where standpoints are put forward by the protagonist and doubt or criticism are raised by the antagonist, in short: the stage where the difference of opinion is expressed) because, by threatening the other party and putting pressure upon him to silence and to close his mouth, the inalienable right of a discussion party to put freely forward standpoints or cast doubt on standpoints is severely hampered and restricted. As a result, a full-blown discussion hardly gets off the ground, ruling out the possibility of a resolution of the difference of opinion on the merits.
Based on the consistent results of a 13 year-lasting, comprehensive empirical research project concerning the judgments of ordinary arguers of the reasonableness of fallacious and non-fallacious discussion contributions, entitled Conceptions of Reasonableness, it can safely be concluded that ordinary arguers deem fallacious contributions as unreasonable moves, while they evaluate sound contributions as reasonable (van Eemeren, Garssen & Meuffels 2009); compared with the unreasonableness of the 24 investigated fallacies in that project (such as the ad hominem, the ad misericordiam, evading the burden of proof, the ad populum, the ad consequentiam and so on), the ad baculum fallacy – the particular fallacy we will focus on in this paper – was judged as the least reasonable discussion move (cf. van Eemeren, Grootendorst & Meuffels 1999).
From the empirical data collected in the project Conceptions of Reasonableness it can be inferred that ordinary arguers know (at least on a pre-theoretical level) where precisely to trace the boundaries of dialectical rationality; thus, at least to a certain extent, ordinary arguers are aware of their dialectical obligations. Moreover, ordinary arguers also expect that their interlocutors apply similar norms and criteria for evaluating the reasonableness of discussion contributions as they themselves do, upholding more or less the same standards of dialectical reasonableness. Last, so can be inferred from the results of our empirical research that formed a sequel of the above mentioned project, ordinary arguers use the concept of ‘reasonableness’ not only in a descriptive, but also in a normative sense: the discussant who violates one of the rules for critical discussion and thus does not observe the critical ideal of dialectical reasonableness, can be held accountable and reproached for violating commonly shared norms incorporated in the rules for critical discussion (van Eemeren, Garssen & Meuffels 2012). Read more
ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ The Argumentative Role Of Visual Metaphor And Visual Antithesis In ‘Fly-On-The-Wall’ Documentary
Abstract: In this paper, we explore the argumentative role of visual metaphor and visual antithesis in the so-called ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentary. In this subtype of documentary, which emphatically renounces voice-over narration, the filmmakers guide their viewers into reaching certain conclusions by making choices regarding the editing as well as the cinematography. We analyse a number of scenes from two films by one major representative of the Direct Cinema or ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentary, Frederick Wiseman.
Keywords: visual/pictorial metaphor, visual antithesis, multimodal rhetoric, fly on the wall documentary, Direct Cinema, Frederick Wiseman
While a number of argumentation scholars would probably still maintain that argumentation is essentially a verbal activity, there has been substantial work in the last two decades arguing for the possibility and actuality of conveying argumentation by means of other modes than the verbal one (Groarke, 1996; Kjeldsen, 2012; Roque, 2012; Tseronis, submitted; Van den Hoven & Yang, 2013). It is to this line of research within argumentation studies that we want to contribute by discussing the possible argumentative functions of metaphor and antithesis conveyed visually or multimodally in a specific genre of documentary film, the fly-on-the-wall documentary. To identify the verbal and visual cues that may be combined in order to convey a certain figure constitutes the first step. To explain their use and effect as having to do with argumentation is the next one. For the latter task, the analyst needs to have systematic recourse to the properties of the modes used, their interaction, as well as to the broader context (consideration of the narrative, the genre as well as the cultural context and background knowledge).
By taking a broad understanding of argumentation as a procedure, not merely as a product consisting of premises that support the acceptability of a conclusion, we seek to identify the function of such figures as metaphor and antithesis, when conveyed multimodally, in the process of arguing for one’s position. Such functions are not merely decorative but, as explained by Fahnestock (1999), can be understood as epitomizing the line of reasoning of the filmmaker. Kjeldsen (2012, p. 239) makes a similar point with regard to the use of pictures in advertisements, namely that figures “are not only ornamental, but also support the creation of arguments”. According to him, “rhetorical figures direct the audience to read arguments” (ibidem) by delimiting the possible interpretations of the pictures used, and thereby evoking the intended arguments.
Among the various rhetorical figures, metaphor has received substantial attention within the Cognitive Metaphor Theory (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980). Lakoff and Johnson’s central idea is that humans think metaphorically rather than just use metaphorical language. Acceptance of this idea means that, in principle, metaphor can have visual manifestations as well. Indeed, the past two decades have witnessed a series of studies (see for example, Forceville, 1996, 2008; Forceville & Urios-Aparisi, 2009; El Refaie, 2003) that analyse visual and multimodal metaphors in genres including advertising and political cartoons, wherein verbal elements interact mainly with static images. Steps have also been taken to analyse visual metaphors in other genres of argumentative communication centrally involving moving images, and to investigate how tropes other than metaphor can be cued non-verbally or multimodally (Forceville, 2009; Teng & Sun, 2002). The argumentative effect that the use of metaphor and other tropes may have is an area that needs to be yet further explored.
The fly-on-the-wall documentary[i] constitutes an object of study that allows us to explore the potential of combining insights from argumentation studies and metaphor theory and to illustrate their usefulness for the multimodal analysis of moving images. As this type of documentary is a genre that leaves the drawing of conclusions largely to the viewer, due to the fact that it lacks voice-over narration and staging of events, it becomes even more important to study the visual (and audio) means by which the filmmaker guides the audience’s inference process. To show the direction this kind of research could take, we analyse the argumentative use of metaphors and antitheses in a number of scenes from two documentary films by one representative of the fly-on-the-wall cinema, Frederick Wiseman. Read more
Abstract: I propose a formal model of representation and numerical evaluation of conductive arguments. Such arguments consist not only of pro-premises supporting a claim, but also of contra-premises denying this claim. Offering a simple and intuitive alternative to accounts developed in the area of computational models of argument, the proposed model recognizes internal structure of arguments, allows infinitely many degrees of acceptability, reflects the cumulative nature of convergent reasoning, and enables to interpret attack relation.
Keywords: argument evaluation, argument structure, attack relation, conductive reasoning, logical force of argument, rebuttal.
According to Wellman’s original definition (1971) the conclusion of any conductive argument is drawn inconclusively from its premises. Moreover, the premises and the conclusion are about one and the same individual case, i.e. the conclusion is drawn without appeal to any other case. Wellman also gave three leading examples of conductive arguments, which determine three patterns of conduction:
(1) You ought to help him for he has been very kind to you.
(2) You ought to take your son to the movie because you promised, and you have nothing better to do this afternoon.
(3) Although your lawn needs cutting, you want to take your son to the movies because the picture is ideal for children and will be gone by tomorrow.
Wellman’s definition was an object of many interesting views, opinions and interpretations, mostly surveyed in (Blair & Johnson 2011). However, we do not discuss this issue here, but we simply follow these authors who, as Walton & Gordon (2013), focus on the third pattern and propose to take conductive arguments to be the same as pro-contra arguments. Such arguments, except of a normal pro-premise or premises (The picture is ideal for children; It will be gone by tomorrow), have also a con-premise or premises (Your lawn needs cutting).
In the next two chapters we analyze conductive arguments from the logical point of view. The conduction is regarded here as one act of reasoning, in which a conclusion is drawn by the same time from both types of premises. In Chapter 2 we describe the structure and in Chapter 3 – a method of evaluation of conductive arguments. This method is based on the model of argument proposed in (Selinger 2014). In Chapter 4 we introduce a dialectical component of the analysis. Namely, by means of our model, we discuss definition of attack relation holding between arguments. Read more
Abstract: This paper presents some ideas of how to conceptualize thinking errors from a cognitive point of view. First, it describes the basic ideas of dual-process theories, as they are discussed in cognitive psychology. Next, it traces the sources of thinking errors within a dual-process framework and shows how these ideas might be useful to explain the occurrence of traditional fallacies. Finally, it demonstrates how this account captures thinking errors beyond the traditional paradigm of fallacies.
Keywords: fallacies, thinking errors, dual process theories, cognitive processes
The last three decades have seen a rapid growth of research on fallacies in argumentation theory, on the one hand, and on heuristics and biases in cognitive psychology, on the other hand. Although the domains of these two lines of research strongly overlap, there are only scarce attempts to integrate insights from cognitive psychology into argumentation theory and vice versa (Jackson, 1995; Mercier & Sperber, 2011; O’Keefe, 1995; Walton, 2010). This paper contributes an idea on how to theorize about traditional fallacies on the basis of dual-process accounts of cognition.
2. Dual-process accounts of cognition
The basic idea of dual process theories is that there are at least two different types of cognitive processes or cognitive systems (Evans & Stanovich, 2013; Kahneman, 2011; Stanovich, 2011). System 1 consists of cognitive processes that are fast, automatic and effortless. System 1 is driven by intuitions, associations, stereotypes, and emotions. Here are some examples: When you associate the picture of the Eiffel Tower with ‘Paris’, when you give the result of ‘1+1’, or when you are driving on an empty highway, then System 1 is at work. System 2, in contrast, consists of processes that are rather slow, controlled and effortful. System 2 is able to think critically, to follow rules, to analyse exceptions, and to make sense of abstract ideas. Some examples include: backing into a parking space, calculating the result of ‘24×37’, and finding a guy with glasses, red-and-white striped shirt, and a bobble hat in a highly detailed panorama illustration. These processes take effort and concentration. Read more
Abtract : This study shows the changes identified in the type of questions used by an elementary school teacher, who participated in a process of critical reflection on the teaching of argumentation in science class. In this study, three classes were recorded (before, during and after the process), and after discourse analysis realized to information collected, the results show how the teacher understands the importance of combining different kinds of questions: descriptive, causal and evaluative, questions.
Keywords: Argumentation, reflective critical process, science education,
The importance of argumentation in the science class is supported by numerous studies. On the one hand, some research shows that students involved in argumentative activities can better understand how science is produced and validated (Driver et al. 2000, Osborne et al. 2004), while improving their communication skills (Kuhn & Udell, 2003). These findings justify giving a priority to discourse practices and, specifically, argumentative processes in school settings. On the other hand, despite the fact that there are many studies highlighting how teachers’ thinking influences classroom practices (Benarroch & Marin, 2011; Ireland, Watters, Brownlee & Lupton, 2011; Gunstone et al, 1993; Lebak & Tinsley, 2010 , Milner, Sondergeld, Demir, Johnson & Czerniak, 2012; Porlan et al., 2010, Smart & Marsall, 2012), few studies try to identify how teachers promote classroom argumentation and understand how the teachers’ thinking, related to what it is supposed to be argued in science, influences the way to promote classroom argumentation.
Also, we know that the argumentation as a social practice demands that the teaching of the sciences must be focus in the importance and relevance at least of two components. First, the epistemic; the acknowledgement of the role of the argumentation in the construction of the science is taken as a central element. The second component: the social, requires offering spaces to promote debate and work in small groups to give the possibility to listen to the other and to establish their own ideas.
In this sense, the question becomes one of the possible tools to support these previous aspects: the epistemic and the social. The first one because the scientific knowledge advances when it asks questions which establish a dialogue about theory and observable phenomenon, allowing to explain, to structure and to change the condition of a theory, (Kuhn, 2010; McDonald & McRobbie, 2012; Milne 2012; Osborne, Erduran & Simon, 2004; Sardà & Sanmartí, 2000). The second one; because in order to try to rebuild scholar scientific knowledge; it is mandatory to provide classroom social interactive moments (Mercer, 1997), to foster in the students not only the interest but also the motivation to establish their own questions, problems and basic actions of the “to do science” (Márquez & Roca, 2006).
From this perspective, the research tries to identify the changes in the kinds of questions worked by an elementary school teacher who participates in a critical reflexive process about the teaching of the argumentation in the science class. Read more