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 ~ Where Is Visual Argument?

Abstract: Argumentation studies suffer from a lack of empirical studies of how audiences actually perceive and construct rhetorical argumentation from communicative stimuli. This is especially pertinent to the study of visual argumentation, because such argumentation is fundamentally enthymematic, leaving most of the reconstruction of premises to the viewer. This paper therefore uses the method of audience analysis, frequently used in communication studies, to establish how viewers interpret instances of visual argumentation such as pictorially dominated advertisements.

Keywords: advertising, images, pictures, reception studies, reconstruction, rhetoric, visual argumentation

1. Audiences and the reconstruction of pictorial argumentation
The reconstruction of pictorial and visual argumentation has been pointed out as especially problematic since pictures neither contain words or precise reference to premises, nor has any syntax or explicit conjunctions that coordinate premise and conclusions. Researchers have been critical of speculative reconstruction of visual premises and arguments that are – they claim – not there; or at least that we cannot know for sure are there. So a central question becomes: Where is argument? Or rather where is visual argument?

I propose that we should more often turn to studies of audience reception; because if an audience actually perceives an argument when encountering an instance of visual communication, then surely an argument has been provided.
The first audience analysis must have been Aristotle’s description of the various types of human character in the Rhetoric. However, in rhetorical research empirical audience analyses are rare, and in argumentation studies they seem to be completely absent. More than anything rhetorical argumentation research is text focused.
When rhetoricians actually discuss the audience, they are mostly concerned with the audience as theoretical or textual constructions. They examine the universal audience (Perelman & Olbrechts-Tyteca 1969), the second persona (Black 1998), the audience constituted by the text (e.g. Charland 1987), the ignored or alienated audience (e.g. Wander 2013), or they theorize about the audience’s cognitive processing of messages (W. Benoit & Smythe 2003).

Instead of limiting ourselves to such textual and theoretical approaches, I propose that research into rhetorical argumentation should more often examine the understandings and conceptualization of the rhetorical audience. From mostly approaching audience as a theoretical construction that are examined textually and speculatively, we should give more attention to empirical explorations of actual audiences and users.

When argumentation theorists discuss the audience mostly they engage in discussions about the identity of the audience and the (im)possibility of determining the identity of the audience (Govier 1999, 183 ff.; Johnson 2013, Tindale 1992, 1999, 2013). Because it is hard to define or locate the audience aspirations to examine audiences are sometimes countered with the argument that such studies are futile, because we cannot really know who the audience is. Trudy Govier, for instance, in her book The Philosophy of Argument, questions how much audience “matter for the understanding and evaluation of an argument”. She introduces the concept of the “Noninteractive Audience – the audience that cannot interact with the arguer, and whose views are not known to him” (Govier 1999, p. 183).

The mass audience, which is probably the most typical audience in the media society of our days, is “the most common and pervasive example of a Noninteractive Audience”. The views of this noninteractive and heterogenous audience, Govier says, are unknown and unpredictable (Govier 1999, p. 187). This means “trying to understand an audience’s beliefs in order to tailor one’s argument accordingly is fruitless” (Tindale 2013, p. 511). Consequently, “Govier suggests, it is not useful for informal logicians to appeal to audiences to resolve issues like whether premises are acceptable and theorists should fall back on other criteria to decide such things”. 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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ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ Isocrates’ Moral Argumentation

Abstract: Two of Michael Calvin McGee’s unpublished manuscripts hint at how the ancient Greek philosopher Isocrates developed a perspective on argumentation that may be useful for contemporary analysis of public affairs. The first manuscript describes Isocrates as a “cultural surgeon” who operated using “moral argumentation.” The second manuscript suggests how individuals may repair cultural faults using moral argumentation. Through rhetorical analysis of Spanish 15­M protest logoi, this paper explores the critical utility of Isocratic moral argumentation.

Keywords: Isocrates, Michael Calvin McGee, social movements, protest, 15-M, rhetoric, public argument, argumentation

1. Introduction
How may an understanding of argumentation scholar Michael Calvin McGee’s use of the term “moral argumentation” inform the analysis of modern-day protest activity? Exploration of this question promises to enrich understanding of this term and shed light on how argumentation by twenty-first century protestors may contribute to the processes of deliberation and unity formation. McGee first describes moral argumentation in the first of his two unpublished manuscripts on the topic of Isocrates (McGee 1986, 1998). In this manuscript, “Isocrates: A Parent of Rhetoric and Culture Studies,” McGee provides no direct definition of moral argumentation; however, some preliminary understandings may be extrapolated from McGee’s use of the term by reading this paper in tandem with the second manuscript, “Choosing A Poros: Reflections on How to Implicate Isocrates in Liberal Theory.” Although the term moral argumentation has been employed in other philosophical contexts, McGee inflects it in a unique and particular way that warrants further study (Habermas 1984, 1988, 1990, 1996). This paper aims to (re)construct the meaning of McGee’s “moral argumentation” to support a case study of protest logoi (i.e., reasoned arguments, such as protest slogans) by the Spanish protest group 15-M.

2. Moral argumentation
In the first manuscript, “Isocrates: A Parent of Rhetoric and Culture Studies,” McGee argues that Isocrates’ argumentation may be characterized as the “skill and talent of discovering how best to apply values to a given circumstance” [emphasis added] (McGee 1986). McGee’s definition attributes an implicit and intrinsic moral component to Isocrates’ form of argumentation, which is signaled by McGee’s use of the term “values,” a word that connotatively and denotatively carries ethical and moral implications (McGee 1986). McGee contends that for Isocrates, engaging in or performing “moral argumentation encouraged right action” (McGee 1986). McGee asserts that Isocrates stated that “moral knowledge” could be obtained through studying the “history of public address,” which also serves as a history of “virtue in action” (McGee 1986). By “public address,” McGee most likely gestures to the classical Greek understanding of the term, encompassing a variety of speeches (e.g., forensic, epideictic, deliberative, encomiastic) that were traditionally delivered at “the law courts, in political assemblies, and on ceremonial occasions at public festivals” (Ilie 2009, p. 833; McGee 1986). Thus, inherent in McGee’s description of this acquisitional process is the salient role history plays in obtaining “moral knowledge,” which is further articulated in the manner in which Isocrates constructed arguments (McGee 1986). Read more

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