ISSA Proceedings 2006 ~ From Figure To Argument: Contrarium In Roman Rhetoric

logo 20061. Introduction
Roman rhetoricians knew about a certain rhetorical device called contrarium, which they, however, variably considered either a figure of speech or a certain type of argument, at times even both. This paper will try to analyze the function of this term that vacillates between the realms of stylistic embellishment and argumentation and to elucidate both its logical background and linguistic appearance. In a first section, the development of the concept of contrarium from the Rhetoric to Herennius to Cicero and Quintilian will be sketched. Next, Cicero’s account of the enthymeme in his Topics and its relationship to contrarium will be analyzed and, based on the examples offered by those authors, an analysis of the typical pattern of this type of argument will be given. A study of a selection of examples from Cicero’s writings will reveal their underlying argumentative basis, before finally the persuasive force of the standard phrasing as rhetorical questions will be discussed.

2. Contrarium in Roman Rhetoric

2.1. Contrarium in the Rhetoric to Herennius
In the fourth book of the anonymous Rhetoric to Herennius, which is arguably the oldest extant rhetorical handbook in Latin, most commonly dated to the mid-80s of the first century B.C.E., a feature called contrarium appears within a lengthy list of figures of diction (Rhet. ad Her. 4.25-26). It is defined as a figure “which, of two opposite statements, uses one so as neatly and directly to prove the other.” Unfortunately, the anonymous author does not go into any greater analytic detail. Instead, he prefers to offer a whole series of examples, as follows (trans. Caplan 1954, p. 293, modified):

(1) Now how should you expect one who has ever been hostile to his own interests to be friendly to another’s?
(2) Now why should you think that one who is, as you have learned, a faithless friend, can be an honourable enemy?
(3) How should you expect a person whose arrogance has been insufferable in private life, to be agreeable and self-knowing when in power, and
(4) one who in conversation among friends has never spoken the truth, to refrain from lies before public assemblies?
(5) Do we fear to fight them on the plains when we have hurled them down from the hills?
(6) When they outnumbered us, they were not equal to us; now that we outnumber them, do we fear that they will be superior to us?

It is obvious that in each of these examples one or more pairs of opposites are involved:
(1) own interests versus another’s; hostile versus friendly;
(2) friend versus enemy;
(3) arrogance versus agreeability; private life versus position in power;
(4) truth versus lies; conversation among friends versus public assemblies;
(5) plains versus hills;
(6) them outnumbering us versus us outnumbering them; not even equal versus superior. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2006 – Ehninger’s Argument Violin

Douglas Ehninger’s theoretical gem, “Argument as Method” (1970), introduces us to two unsavory debate characters. First, there is the “neutralist” – an interlocutor who eschews commitment at every turn. Following the Greek philosopher Pyrrho, the neutralist thinks that since nothing can be known, standpoints should float freely, unanchored by the tethers of belief. The neutralist’s counterpart is the “naked persuader” – someone who approaches argument like Plato’s Callicles – clinging doggedly to preconceived beliefs and resisting any shift no matter how compelling the counterpoints (Ehninger 1970, p. 104).

Naked persuaders and neutralists each have difficulty engaging in argument, but for different reasons. According to Ehninger (1970, p. 104), argumentation is a “person risking enterprise,” and by entering into an argument, “a disputant opens the possibility that as a result of the interchange he too may be persuaded of his opponent’s view, or, failing that, at least may be forced to make major alterations in his own.” In this account, naked persuaders are hamstrung by their unwillingness to risk the possibility that the force of reason will prompt alteration of their views. Neutralists, on the other hand, prevent the “person risking enterprise” from ever getting off the ground in the first place, since they place nothing on the table to risk.

Ehninger’s unsavory characters illustrate how the concept of standpoint commitment has salience in any theory of “argument as process” (Wenzel 1990). To reap the full benefits of the process of argumentation, interlocutors must adopt stances vis-à-vis their standpoints that strike an appropriate balance between perspectives of the naked persuader and the neutralist. For Ehninger (1970, p. 104), such a balanced posture consists of “restrained partisanship,” where advocates drive dialectic forward with tentative conviction, while remaining open to the possibility that the course of argument may dictate that their initial standpoints require amendment or retraction. Finding this delicate balance resembles the tuning of violin strings – a metaphor that underscores his point that the proper stance of restrained partisanship must be tailored to fit each situation.

The public argument prior to the 2003 Iraq War offers a clear example of a poorly tuned deliberative exchange. While several official investigations (e.g. US Commission 2005; US Senate 2004) have explained the breakdown in prewar decision-making as a case of faulty data driving bad policy, this paper explores how the technical concept of foreign policy “intelligence failure” (Matthias 2001) can be expanded to offer a more fine-grained explanation for the ill-fated war decision, which stemmed in part from a failure of the argumentative process in public spheres of deliberation. Part one revisits Ehninger’s concept of standpoint commitment, framing it in light of related argumentation theories that address similar aspects of the argumentative process. This discussion paves the way for a case study of public argument concerning the run-up to the 2003 Iraq War. Finally, possible implications of the case study for foreign policy rhetoric and argumentation theory are considered. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2006 ~ On How To Get Beyond The Opening Stage

1. Introduction
What is the opening stage? And why would it be hard to get beyond it?

The opening stage – as many will know – is one of the four discussion stages contained in the familiar pragma-dialectical model of critical discussion (Van Eemeren & Grootendorst 1984, 1992, 2004), which constitutes a normative model for argumentative activities aimed at the resolution of a difference of opinion. It is one of the merits of this model that, in its description of the ideal argumentative process, it does not limit itself to argumentation in the proper, but narrow, sense of advancing arguments for a standpoint, but includes discussion stages where other necessary steps for the resolution of differences of opinion are located. Remember that there are just four stages, and that they are, in order, the following:

1. Confrontation Stage
2. Opening Stage
3. Argumentation stage
4. Concluding Stage.

Contrary to what may be expected, the opening stage does not figure as the first stage (whereas the concluding stage finds itself indeed neatly placed at the end). This is a vagary of nomenclature that sometimes breeds confusion even among experts. Apart from that, it is clear that the process of argumentation proper has been placed in the third stage, the argumentation stage, and that the first two stages figure as preparatory stages.

The problem I want to discuss actually pertains to both preparatory stages, namely: how can one get them completed, in a satisfactory way and within a reasonable time, to move on to what is properly called argumentation. However I will discuss this problem with special reference to the opening stage.

To enhance a more lively remembrance of the four stages of discussion you could picture them as a house with four rooms (see Figure 1).

When guests enter into this house they start on the ground floor in Room 1, a kind of gym – a place suitable for boxing exercises – which represents the confrontation stage, i.e., the stage where a difference of opinion is made explicit. The goal is to get, ultimately, to Room 4, another ground floor room, giving on to the garden, where refreshments are served – drinks and tidbits ­– which room represents the concluding stage, i.e., the stage where agreements are achieved. Now to get there, our guests have to pass through two other rooms, both on the upper floor, which represent the opening stage (Room 2) and the argumentation stage (Room 3). In Room 3, the actual business of argumentation is going on: for instance, a standpoint S is being supported by argument. But before one gets there, a lot of preparatory work needs to be done. The agenda will be presented in the next section, but one thing that has to be settled is the choice of a system of discussion rules that the parties are going to adhere to. No wonder Room 2 is packed with theorists of argumentation debating these rules. The complexity of issues and the multiplicity of perspectives is making one wonder whether any agreement will ever be reached at all. One would be fortunate to see the people in Room 2 manage to come to an agreement about just the shape of their table. Even that issue can be nasty, as was the case at the opening stage of the Paris Peace Conference about Vietnam. As some will remember, in 1968-69 the shape of the table was debated for months. This, of course, was a case of opening a negotiation dialogue, not a persuasion dialogue or argumentative discussion. Yet, the case of the Paris Peace Conference constitutes a classical illustration of how difficult it may be to get beyond the opening stage of a discussion. (Which is not to say that the issue of the shape of the table was unimportant at the time.)

The rest of this paper will be organized as follows. As I announced before, I shall first present the agenda for Room 2, i.e., a task list for the opening stage, assembled from pragma-dialectic writings (Section 2). Then I shall illustrate these tasks in a dialogue (Section 3), point out some problems (Section 4) and start on some sketch of a way to adapt the architecture of critical discussion in order to overcome these problems (Section 5). Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2006 ~ Pragma-Dialectics And The Function Of Argumentation

logo 20061. Introduction: Pragma-Dialectics and the Aims of this Paper
During the last 25 years Frans van Eemeren and Rob Grootendorst have very impressively developed Pragma-Dialectics, i.e. a consensualistic theory of argumentative discourse, which sees the elimination of a difference of opinion as the aim of such discourses and of argumentation. Currently this is the most famous and most discussed approach in argumentation theory in the world.

In what follows I will discuss Pragma-Dialcetics mainly from an epistemological standpoint, i.e. what this theory has to tell us with respect to acquiring true or justified beliefs and knowledge.

Technical note: The discussion rules are the constructional core of Pragma-Dialectics; in addition to a few material changes and to stylistic improvements, these rules have undergone a change in numbering. In this text I will refer to their first English version (E&G 1984, p. 151-175) as “Ro1” etc. (“original (or old) rule no. 1”) and to their most recent statement (E&G 2004, pp. 135-157) as “Rs1” etc. (“Rule in ‘Systematic Theory of Argumentation’ no. 1”). The material changes regard, first, the possibilities of defending (or attacking) a premise (Ro9/Rs7 (E&G 1984, p. 168; 2004, p. 147 f.)); the originally included possibility of common observation has been deleted – which is surprising – and the originally lacking possibility of argumentatively defending a premise included, which is a clear improvement. The second and most important change concerns the argument schemes that may be used for defending a claim: originally only deductive arguments were permitted now non-deductive argument schemes have been added (Ro10/Rs8 (E&G 1984, p. 169; 2004, p. 150)) – a substantial improvement. The following discussion usually refers only to the best version.

2. The Aim of Argumentation and Argumentative Discourse: Elimination of a Difference of Opinion
The whole approach of Pragma-Dialectics is constructed starting from one central theorem about the function of argumentative discourse and argumentation in general. The aim of argumentative discourse and of argumentation, as these are seen and constructed by Pragma-Dialectics, is to eliminate a difference of (expressed) opinion (e.g. E&G 1984, p. 1; 1992, xiii; p. 10; 2004, pp. 52; 57; Eemeren et al. 1996, p. 277) or to resolve a dispute – where “dispute” is understood as: expressed difference of opinion (e.g. E&G 1984, pp. 2; 3; 151). This resolution has taken place if the participants both explicitly agree about the opinion in question. The central task of the theory is to develop rules for rational discussions or discourses; and the value of the rules to be developed is regarded as being identical to the extent to which these rules help to attain the goal of resolving disputes (E&G 1984, pp. 151; 152; cf. 2004, pp. 132-134).

This, obviously, is a consensualistic conception of argumentative discourse and of argumentation, which aims at an unqualified consensus, i.e. a consensus that is not subjected to further conditions.[i] Consensualism defines a clear aim for argumentation and argumentative discourse, which can be the basis for developing a complete argumentation theory, including criteria for good argumentation, good discourse, theory of fallacies, theory of argumentation interpretation, etc. Thus, consensus theory in general, and Pragma-Dialectics in particular, is a full-fledged approach to argumentation theory. Similar and competing full-fledged approaches are, first, the rhetorical approach, which sees convincing an addressee, i.e. creating or raising an addressee’s belief in a thesis, as the aim of argumentation (e.g. Perelman & Olbrechts-Tyteca 1958; Hamblin 1970; Tindale 2004), and, second, the epistemological approach, which sees generating the addressee’s justified belief in the argumentation’s thesis as the standard function of argumentation (e.g. Biro & Siegel 1992,; Feldman 1994; Goldman 1999, ch. 5; Johnson 2000; Lumer 1990; 1991; 2005/2006; Siegel & Biro 1997). As opposed to epistemological theories, both consensus theory and rhetoric aim at an unqualified belief (though in Pragma-Dialectics this is more an expression of a belief than the belief itself); but consensus theory then, unlike rhetoric, requires that both participants share this opinion. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ Table Of Contents

Mark Aakhus & Marcin Lewinski – Toward Polylogical Analysis Of Argumentation: Disagreement Space In The Public Controversy About Fracking
Scott Aikin & John Casey – Don’t Feed The Trolls: Straw Men And Iron Men
Derek Allen – The Very Idea Of Ethical Arguments
Rodica Amel – The Synthetic Function Of Doxastic Dialectics
José Ángelgascón – What Could Virtue Contribute To Argumentation?
R. Jarrod Atchison & John Llewellyn – Don’t Drink That Water!: The Role Of Counter-Intuitive Science In Conspiracy Arguments
Sharon Bailin & Mark Battersby – Conductive Argumentation, Degrees Of Confidence, And The Communication Of Uncertainty
Michael J. Baker – The Integration Of Pragma-Dialectics And Collaborative Learning Research: Argumentation Dialogue, Externalisation And Collective Thinking
V. William Balthrop & Carole Blair – Controversy, Racial Equality, And American World War I Cemeteries In Europe
Natalia Barebina – Interpersonal Argumentation Through The Context Of Distributed Cognition: The Case Of Christian Sermon
Michael D. Baumtrog – Delineating The Reasonable And Rational For Humans
Sarah Bigi – Can Argumentation Skills Become A Therapeutic Resource? Results From An Observational Study In Diabetes Care
J. Anthony Blair – What Is Informal Logic?
Marina Bletsas –The Voices Of Justice – Argumentative Polyphony And Strategic Manoeuvring In Judgement Motivations: An Example From The Italian Constitutional Court
Emma Frances Bloomfield & Kari Storla – Evolutionary Arguments In The Birth Control Debate: Casuistic Shifting In Conservative Rhetoric
Dmitri Bokmelder – Cognitive Biases And Logical Fallacies
David Botting – Reasons Why Arguments And Explanations Are Different
Antonio Bova – A Study Of Undergraduate And Graduate Students’ Argumentation In Learning Contexts Of Higher Education
Emanuele Brambilla – On The Benefits Of Applying Argumentation Theory To Research On The Simultaneous Interpretation Of Political Speeches
Ann E. Burnette & Wayne L. Kraemer – Meeting The Demands Of A Changing Electorate: The political Rhetoric Of Julian Castro And Marco Rubio
Begoña Carrascal & Miguel Mori – Justification And Effectiveness: Critical Thinking And Strategic Maneuvering
Annalisa Cattani – A Reason That Desires, A Desires That Reasons Participatory Art And Guerrilla Advertising
Martha S. Cheng – The Sliding Scales Of Repentance: Understanding Variation In Political Apologies For Infidelity

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ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ Preface

The Eighth Conference of the International Society for the Study of Argumentation (ISSA), held in Amsterdam from 1 July to 4 July 2014, drew again more submissions for presentations than any ISSA Conference before. After a strict selection procedure, 320 scholars were invited to present their papers at the Conference. In addition, the Conference attracted some 200 interested colleagues and students who attended the presentations and took part in the discussions.

The 2014 ISSA Conference was, like previous ones, an international meeting place for argumentation scholars from a great variety of academic backgrounds and traditions, representing a wide range of academic disciplines and approaches: (speech) communication, logic (formal and informal), rhetoric (classical and modern), philosophy, linguistics, (critical) discourse analysis, pragmatics, law, political science, psychology, education, religious studies, media studies and artificial intelligence.

During the conference, papers were presented on academic argumentation, analogy argumentation, argument and computation, argument schemes, argumentation and cognition, argumentation and criticism, argumentation and culture, argumentation and epistemology, argumentation and ethics, argumentation and finance, argumentation and media, argumentation and norms, argumentation and probability, argumentation and religion, argumentation and speech acts, argumentation and style, argumentation in the public sphere, argumentation structures, argumentative strategies, critical discourse analysis, critical thinking, debate, definitions, education and learning, empirical research, ethos and pathos, fallacies, historical backgrounds, interpersonal argument, legal argumentation, medical argumentation, multimodal argumentation, narrative argument, political argumentation, political argumentation and national transitions, political discourse, practical argument, the Perelman approach, the Toulmin approach, theoretical issues and visual argumentation. In the opinion of the editors, the Proceedings of the Eighth ISSA Conference reflect the current richness of the discipline.

The Proceedings of the Conference are published on CD ROM by Rozenberg Publishers. For the reader’s convenience, in the Proceedings the papers are arranged in the alphabetical order of the authors’ surnames.

The four ISSA board members, Bart Garssen, David Godden, Gordon Mitchell and Francisca Snoeck Henkemans served as editors of the Proceedings. The editors were helped in their reviewing by members of the Department of Speech Communication of the University of Amsterdam. In addition, we received invaluable assistance in preparing the Proceedings from our research assistant Eugen Popa. We thank him very much for his help in getting the manuscripts ready for publication. Last but not least, we would like to thank our publisher Auke van der Berg for the production of these Proceedings.

For their financial support of the conference, the editors would like to express their gratitude to the Dutch-Belgian Speech Communication Association (VIOT), the City of Amsterdam, Springer Academic Publishers, John Benjamins Publishers, the International Learned Institute for Argumentation Studies (ILIAS), and the Sciential International Centre for Scholarship in Argumentation Theory (Sic Sat).
20 November 2014

Bart Garssen, ILIAS & University of Amsterdam
David Godden, Old Dominion University
Gordon Mitchell, University of Pittsburgh
Francisca Snoeck Henkemans, ILIAS & University of Amsterdam

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