ISSA Proceedings 2010 – Logically Defending For Publication: An Analysis Of The Review Process Of Logical Self-Defense
Although there has been some historical research on the development of argumentation studies in the US and Canada, it is safe to say that history of argumentation studies on the second half of the last century is less developed than the theory and empirical research of argumentation. As other fields of inquiries such as economics, political theory, and communication studies have history of those inquiries as their components, history of argumentation studies should exist and constitute the field of inquiry called argumentation. In addition to refining theories of argumentation proposed by Toulmin, the New Rhetoric Project, informal logicians, Pragma-Dialecticians, we need to examine under what historical contingencies those theories were proposed and defended. With a hope of developing history of argumentation as a legitimate subfield of argumentation studies, this paper attempts to offer a historical-rhetorical analysis of one pivotal argumentative exchange for the development of informal logic: the review process for publication of Logical Self-Defense[i].
In the review process of the manuscript of Logical Self-Defense, Johnson and Blair had to overcome arguments against publication by two reviewers. What were those objections and how did Johnson and Blair attempt to fulfill their dialectical obligations? Given that the triad criteria of argument evaluation (relevance, sufficiency, and acceptability) offered in Logical Self-Defense have been influential to introductory textbooks and research on informal logic, non-publication of Logical Self-Defense must have presented a different landscape of argumentation theory in general, and informal logic in particular.
It is therefore important to study in depth, as part of the historical project to track the development of informal logic since 1970s, how Johnson and Blair attempted to answer the critical objections. In addition to its significance to the history of argumentation, this paper has implications for theoretical and critical studies of argumentation, such as consideration of goals/purposes of argumentative exchange and use of argumentation schemes in the analysis of extended argument. This paper will initially situate the present research within the history of argumentation studies based on the research agenda proposed in the previous research (Konishi 2009). Then in section 2, the focus will shift to the analysis of the actual argumentative situation that Johnson and Blair faced in the review process of Logical Self-Defense. In section 3, a close historical-rhetorical analysis of the argumentative exchange between Johnson and Blair and the reviewers will reveal how Johnson and Blair maneuvered themselves. The final section will offer conclusions and suggestions for future research.
1. Publication of Logical Self-Defense as a key historical event
Published in 1976, Johnson and Blair’s Logical Self-Defense has been one of the most influential introductory textbooks on argument appraisal using the fallacy approach. The initial motivation to publish Logical Self-Defense came from their interest in refining the fallacy approach that Kahane offered in Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric for evaluating argument in natural language. Not satisfied with Kahane’s fallacy approach on its insufficient attention to the analysis of argument, unclear conditions for each fallacy type and not demanding the students to defend their charge of fallacy (Blair, 2007a), they wrote supplementary materials. In addition to tightening up these theoretical and practical aspects for argument evaluation, they essentially ‘Canadianized’ the textbook, taking examples of argument from Canadian sociopolitical topics (Johnson 2007).
Not only did Johnson and Blair refine Kahane’s fallacy approach, but offered a unique theoretical insight for evaluating different types of fallacious arguments based on the triad criteria of ‘relevance’, ‘sufficiency’, and ‘acceptability’. These criteria are geared toward evaluation, but can be used for classifying different types of fallacious arguments, without resorting to the deduction-induction binarism. These three criteria have been influential within the informal logic movement pedagogically and theoretically. Other than Logical Self-Defense, Damer (2001), Govier (2001), Groarke and Tindale (2004), Konishi (2003), Romain (1997), and Seech (1993) have adopted the triad criteria with some modified wording. In addition to the contribution to pedagogy, the triad criteria have guided scholars to investigating theoretical aspects of argumentation. Johnson (2000) examined how these three criteria and the truth condition constitute the sufficient condition for a good argument. Gooden and Walton (2007) resorted to the acceptability criterion in defending normative binding force of argumentation schemes. Blair (2007b) reviewed scholarship on the triad criteria and defended the tenability with some modifications of their original conceptualization. Although the reason for wide acceptance of the triad criteria is beyond the scope of the current work, suffice it to say that the criteria of relevance, sufficiency and acceptability are important inspirations for pedagogy and theory of informal logic, and thus the publication of Logical Self-Defense marked the key moment for the informal logic movement.
Despite the above significance, a close examination of development of Johnson and Blair’s ideas has not been conducted. According to the research agenda on history of argumentation studies offered by the previous research by the present author (Konishi 2009), historical-rhetorical analysis of important events is one of the major research agenda for developing history of argumentation. How did theorists of argumentation – Johnson and Blair – strategically use symbols to influence others (the publisher and the reviewers) in defending their pedagogically and theoretically important ideas? Using archived materials and oral historical interviews, this article examines the actual argumentative exchange by Johnson and Blair and the two reviewers of the manuscript of Logical Self-Defense, attempting to show how rhetorical dimension of the discourse affects the making of the history.
2. Reconstruction of rhetorical contingencies for publishing Logical Self-Defense
While teaching Applied Logic course at University of Windsor preparing the supplementary materials to Kahane’s textbook, Johnson and Blair started to search for a publisher for their own manuscript. They (1974a) wrote to Gordon Van Tighem, Humanities Editor of McGraw-Hill Ryerson, on February 18, 1974, regarding the possibility of publishing a textbook. Including the first chapter as a sample, they emphasized the significance of using Canadian examples and stated that they want to publish it so that they could make the textbook more readily available to students rather than turn a profit. In May 1974, they (1974b) agreed with McGraw-Hill Ryerson about the publication and promised to finish their manuscript by June 15, 1975. According to a memorandum titled ‘Notes of organizational meeting for Applied Logic text, October 1, 1974’, they were developing lines of thinking to endorse the eventual title of their textbook, Logical Self-Defense.
- Our angle will be that we are treating that part of critical thinking that might be called ‘defensive thinking’. This angle provides a (rough) principle of unity: everything in the text can (more or less) go under the rubric of “something you need to know to be able to think well defensively”.
- … Part I imparts the knowledge and skills needed for self-defence in the rough and tumble of argumentation. Part II imparts the knowledge skills required for Self-Defense against other important and socially prevalent assaults. Part I presents the concept of argument, and a list of the more frequent poisonous species (fallacies). Part II covers three areas [information, advertisements and cliches].
Taking more time to finish the manuscript than Johnson and Blair promised to the publisher, they turned in the manuscript of Logical Self-Defense (then tentatively titled Applied Logic) in August 1975, assuming it would be published. After the manuscript was reviewed, though, both of the two reviewers advised against publication in November 1975. One review (hereafter called Long’s review because it is longer) was critical of logical defects of the manuscript, whereas the other (hereafter called Short’s review) doubted if the manuscript would be marketable. Facing the possibility of the manuscript not being published, Johnson and Blair discussed how to maneuver this difficulty. An undated memo, which seems to be the one that Blair used in calling McGraw-Hill Ryerson, reveals their concerns:
About the criticisms
…We wonder how Jane [Abtamowitz, McGraw-Hill Ryerson’s representative] takes the criticisms. To us they are no problem. We get the impression from Herb [Hildlerly, the former representative of McGraw-Hill Ryerson] that there may now be hesitation about the book, because of them. Is that true?
What we want to know from Jane and what we want to tell her.
…What do you want us to do now? What is your position now?
After calling Abramowitz, Johnson and Blair understood how their audience took the negative reactions by the reviewers and started to strategize how they would approach the argumentative situation. In Blair’s (1975) understanding, Abramowitz was “sympathetic to the need to get someone who understands the point of the text and is open to the possibility of some kind of applied logical course other then (sic) the traditional intro. to logic course.” However, Blair did not feel she was totally committed to the publication project:
My impression was that she is not entirely enthusiastic about the project herself – not to committed to it. I don’t think she has read the text, or read it with much care. She is afraid her judgement isn’t authoritative: “I’m not a philosopher….” So she takes reviews like Long and Short as authoritative. She said she sees it now as two in favor (us) and two against (Long and Short). That’s why she wants another reviewer.
In this situation, Johnson and Blair thought they should include preface to let the reviewers know how the textbook would be used and to guide the reviewers how to read the manuscript. Also, they (Blair 1975) would like more sympathetic reviewers to read it and were thinking about coming up with their “suggestions for questions” that they would “like the reviewers to answer.” Based on their understanding of the argumentative situation, they advanced arguments to persuade the publisher that the reviewers did not understand the project. How they constructed their arguments is the focus of the next section.
3. Arguments for and against the manuscript of Logical Self-Defense
Among the two reviews, Long’s review (Anonymous, n.d.a), titled “Re: Applied Logic R. H. Johnson & J. A. Blair” was more polemic and provided more substantive criticisms on the manuscript. Recognizing some “virtues (an agreeable style; a lively selection of examples), its logical defects are so serious as to make it a worthless introduction to the subject which it professes to treat” (p. 1 emphasis in original). Dividing logic and stylistics and use of examples, Long advances a claim that the manuscript is not worthy of the name of logic. In the next paragraph, he reiterates that authors are not capable: “(Y)ou will see how much the authors manage to get wrong in the span of a few pages [pages 71-79]” (p. 1 emphasis mine).
Impressing the reader of the authors’ inability at the beginning, Long elaborates how Johnson and Blair ‘get wrong’ in the section of irrelevant reason. Stating that “this is a pretty important section in the book; here for the first time the reader is shown applied logic at work, in the detection of fallacies”, Long puts the burden of proof on Johnson and Blair and demands that their account “be thoroughly convincing” (p. 1). In clarifying Johnson and Blair’s account of the fallacy of irrelevant reason, they use the following argument as an instance of fallacy of irrelevant reason, in which Canadian Minister of Health Marc Lalonde replies to the charge advanced by Grace MacInnis that the Department had been promoting the sale of corn flakes that has little nutritional value.
(1) “As for the nutritional value of corn flakes, the milk you have with your corn flakes has great nutritional value.” (p. 1)
In the reconstruction, Johnson and Blair are quoted by Long as saying:
(2) P1: The milk that one has with corn flakes has great nutritional value.
so) C: Corn flakes have more than a little nutritional value.
Long questions adequacy of this reconstruction by offering an alternative interpretation.
Where does he speak of the “more than little nutritional value” of corn flakes? Is he not rather saying something else, that it is worthwhile to promote the sale of corn flakes – regardless of their nutritional value – because their consumption leads to the consumption of milk, which has great nutritional value? And that, surely, is a defensible position. (p. 1)
Contrasting with his own interpretation, Long charges Johnson and Blair for committing the fallacy of straw person, because their interpretation makes it easier to conclude that the original argument commits the fallacy of irrelevant reason.
In addition to the problematic reconstruction of the argument, Long does not believe Johnson and Blair’s account of the fallacy of irrelevant reason is firmly based on the principles of logic. Discussing the above example and another example that Johnson and Blair offered in the manuscript, Long argues that they failed to account for the difference between two types of the fallacy of irrelevant reason – ones arising from “presupposing a false major (=general) premiss” and ones arising from “presupposing a false minor (=particular)” (p. 2).
Thirdly, in Long’s view, Johnson and Blair’s suggestion to defend the charge of irrelevance is “logically horrible” (p. 2 emphasis in original). They suggest to the critic of the argument that s/he construct another argument in which the conclusion of the original argument is supported by different, relevant premisses. This approach, Long argues, would not convince the original arguer if s/he were tough-minded. Presented with this criticism, the tough-minded arguer would say that the new argument presented by the critic is fine but would still question how it shows the original argument is fallacious. Instead of using this ‘horrible’ method, Long suggests the use of counterexamples, which “has been known to logicians over two millenia, and which Johnson & Blair themselves use, but apparently without realizing that they do!” (p. 3 emphasis in original). The method of counterexamples is to “show argument A to be faulty by producing an argument B, identical in structure with A, which is obviously fallacious” (p. 3 emphasis in original). Contrasting Johnson and Blair’s mwthod with that of counterexamples, Long supports the superiority of the latter method:
So we have the distressing spectacle of professional logicians wittingly advising their readers to follow an inferior procedure while themselves unwittingly following the proper one. No textbook of applied logic which omits to teach the method of counterexamples has any worth. (p. 3 emphasis in original)
In conclusion, Long addresses four weaknesses in Johnson and Blair’s account of irrelevant reason: (1) inadequate reconstruction of the original argument to be evaluated, (2) failure to subdivide the fallacy of irrelevance arising from presupposing a false major or minor premisses, (3) logically horrible advice to defend one’s charge of the fallacy of irrelevant reason, and (4) ignorance of the method of counterexamples[ii]. In developing these criticisms, Long makes use of arguments based on division. Contrastively referring to what Johnson and Blair say and to the stock of knowledge of logic such as straw person, distinction between major premiss and minor premiss or the method of counterexample, Long distinguishes Johnson and Blair from professional logicians, thereby questions Johnson and Blair’s credibility as reliable writers of a logic textbook.
While Long advances more substantial criticisms in the three-page review, Short (Anonymous n.d.b) focuses more on the marketability of Johnson and Blair’s textbook. The review points out that Bentham’s Handbook of Political Fallacies, Ward and Holter’s Fallacy: The Counterfeit of Argument, and Michalos’ Improving Your Reasoning “do more in much shorter space”, and they will be “vastly cheaper than” Johnson and Blair’s textbook (p. 1). In addition to the marketability issue, Short makes two brief comments on the substance of the text. First, it points out that “(t)he author’s accounts are not more precise generally. He is just long winded” (p. 1). Then it points out that the scope of the text is “narrow compared to what is covered in most introduction to logic,” and because of this narrow scope, “the book would not be used in ordinary logic courses – which is where the big market is.” Based on these reasons, Short suggests that the publisher publish only the exercise as a workbook. Although Short’s criticisms are more weakly developed than Long’s ones, they still constitute rhetorical obstacles that Johnson and Blair must overcome.
In replying to these negative reviews, Johnson and Blair (1975) resorted to what they should be good at: argumentation. They wrote a twelve-page document that pointed out how the original reviewers “were not fully acquainted with the goals and scope of the text” (p. 12). Understanding that the representative of McGraw-Hill thought the review to be “troublesome”, they felt that they have to re-establish their “credibility” (p. 1). The reconstruction of their credibility “cannot be done briefly, particularly given the nature of Long’s comments” (p. 1). They followed the original structure of the two reviews in their replies, for it would help the publisher “go over those reviews once more, and have them, and the Manuscript, at hand while reading what follows” (p. 1).
On the longer and harsher review by Long, Johnson and Blair (1975) sound polemical at the outset, criticizing Long’s credibility while enhancing their own:
…as we show the below, point by point, Long’s objections are in the main straight mistakes, misreadings of the text, or unsupported controversial opinions taking issue with the considered judgement of the authors. This is not a matter of one opinion against another. We show that Long is, time and again, wrong. It is infuriating to have to take the time to defend the text against the sloppy, churlish, and even stupid comments Long makes. We think you were seriously ill-served by this review. (p. 2 emphasis in original)
After setting a tone of their reply, they address each of the points raised by Long. As regards Long’s first criticism that their reconstruction commits the fallacy of straw person, they remind the reader that natural language argument is often open to alternative interpretation, and that the mere existence of an alternative interpretation does not automatically discredit their interpretation. It would simply mean that adequacy of the two competing interpretations must be determined by reason.
Reminding the reader of the nature of natural language, Johnson and Blair add reasons why their interpretation is more reasonable than Long’s, by referring back to the argumentative text and its background. According to their reference to the context, Lalonde, who has initially advanced an argument on the nutritional value of corn flakes, “does not choose to defend the claim that corn flakes have nutritional value. Instead, he switches to the different question, whether eating corn flakes will lead people to drink milk, which does have nutritional value” (Johnson and Blair, 1975, p. 3). In contrast, Long’s interpretation attributes to Lalonde the argument that “the sale of corn flakes is worthwhile because it leads people to drink milk” (p. 3). However, Johnson and Blair argue that Long’s interpretation dismisses the point that Lalonde attempts to shift the issue. In their judgments, “He (Lalonde) convinces Long, but not the careful critic” (p. 3). Johnson and Blair criticize Long’s alternative interpretation and imply that Long is an uncritical judge.
On Long’s second critique – the failure to subdivide the fallacy irrelevant reason that arises from presupposing a false major or minor premises, Johnson and Blair (1975) do not believe that the distinction will help students become good critics of natural language argumentation:
The question we’ve had to ask throughout is: What distinctions will help students develop the practical skills that this book is explicitly designed to teach? It is a serious misconception of the text to see it as intending to provide a complete presentation of the subject called “applied” or “informal” logic. The goal is not to get across a body of information, but to instill a skill. That is and should be a major selling point of the book. We’ve chosen not to introduce the distinction Long thinks is important. Our reason for doing so is that to teach this distinction would require a digression that stands to confuse and lose some of the practically-oriented students the text is designed for. Our disagreement with Long on this point is in no way a logical defect in the book. (p. 3)
In this passage Johnson and Blair contrast ‘practical skills’ or ‘practically-oriented’ and ‘a body of information’ of applied/informal logic or ‘a digression’. In light of the goal to which the book is written, practical skills are much more important than presenting the body of information about informal logic, and the failure to account for the subtypes of the fallacy of irrelevant reason is therefore not significant. Here they present a hierarchy between practical use to the students and the body of information about informal logic, and appeal to the publisher that Long’s charge, if it were true, does not make any sense in light of the goal of the manuscript. In conclusion, their disagreement with Long on this point is not “a logical defect” of the manuscript, but comes from Long’s failure to understand the nature of the manuscript (Johnson and Blair 1975, p. 2).
On the third line of Long’s critique – ‘logically horrible advice’ to evaluate the fallacy of irrelevant reason, Johnson and Blair (1975) refer to the manuscript and point out Long’s misunderstanding.
…what we actually say on p. 84 [of the manuscript] is this:
“On the basis of this discussion of irrelevance, you can see that to prove condition (2) of Irrelevant Reason satisfied it is necessary to show with specific reference to the argument in question how the truth of the conclusion is independent of the truth of the premise. This is what we did when we charged Lalonde with Irrelevant Reason. We argued that whether milk has nutritional value makes no difference to whether corn flakes have nutritional value, since they are two different substances and their nutritional properties are independent of one another.”
What we actually say bears no resemblance to what Long makes us out to have said. (p. 5)
Clarifying that Long has misread the manuscript, they further attempt to block a potential question that may well come up: “Perhaps you will be thinking that if Long was misled, then can’t it at least be said that in the passage is misleading?” (p. 6) On this potential question, they appeal to their successful teaching practice. They (1975) say: “All we can reply is that in teaching the concept of relevance over the past five years in this course we have never found our student mistake this sort of contrast for a proof of irrelevance” (p. 6 emphasis in original). Contrasting Long’s misreading of the manuscript with the successful teaching practice at University of Windsor, they conclude that “the evidence is mounting – and there’s more – that Long did not read the text with much attentiveness” (p. 6). By charging the sloppy reading of Long, they cast a doubt on Long’s credibility as a reviewer.
On the use of counterexamples, they refer to Kahane (1971), Capiladi (1973), and Fearnside and Holther (1959) and point out that this notion is not widely used in these books. On this basis, Johnson and Blair (1975) conclude that: “(i)t’s absurd to say that our not explicitly introducing the notion of counterexamples demonstrates the worthlessness of the text” (p. 6). In addition, they argue that including the use of counterexamples will force them to deal with the method of logical attack, to which the manuscript was not designed.
To discuss it [the method of counterexamples] would get us into territory we’ve deliberately avoided: strategies of logical offense. We’ve designed the whole text around what might be called “defensive logic” – how to avoid being taken in by others’ bad logic. It would call for an entirely new section – and in fact a different orientation; a different book – to catalogue and teach the methods of logical attack[iii]. (p. 6)
After attempting to demonstrate that Long has not supported his case in his review, Johnson and Blair (1975) remind the publisher of other significant parts of the manuscript on which Long has not said anything. Those significant parts include their treatment of media and advertisement, extended arguments, standardization of arguments, classification of fallacies, appeal to authority or two wrongs:
The list could go on and on. When we think of the variety of questions that even a sympathetic critic could address himself to, and compare the trivial quibbles Long manufactures, we wonder about the time and care he devoted to assessing the text, and indeed about his experience with this philosophical material.
Long’s review was written with such a lack of good faith, and of care, as to be useless to us and to you. It was a waste of your time and money. It’s a waste of our time to have to reply to it. (p. 8)
Throughout the process of replying to Long’s review, Blair and Johnson address the issue of credibility: Long’s interpretation of the argumentative text cannot convince careful critics; his charge on the failure to distinguish two types of irrelevance comes from his inability to understand the nature of the manuscript; his charge of logically ‘horrible’ advice is denied by the successful pedagogical practice; his call for the use of counterexample is not widely supported by logic textbooks and ignores orientation of the manuscript; and he does not say anything on other important aspects of the manuscript. These points collectively weaken the credibility of Long and transform this harsh critic into an uncareful reader who do not understand the nature of the manuscript. With these replies they implicitly enhance their own credibility.
Having concluded that Long’s review was off the point and useless, Johnson and Blair start replying to Short’s review. Their tone toward Short is less harsh and polemical than that toward Long. While acknowledging Shorts’ goodwill, Johnson and Blair (1975) focus more on what they disagree with Short’s review. On the first critique by Short – other textbooks dealing with more fallacies in shorter space, they argue that it is rather “a virtue” of the text, for they deal with “the most frequently occurring ways to spoil an argument” (p. 9 emphasis in original). They emphasize the purpose to which the manuscript was written. It is not for the “the traditional introduction to logic that briefly surveys ‘informal logic,’ nor is it for informational course that tells the students what the traditional fallacies are. Instead, it’s a handbook teaching a skill – a skill that is useful, and immediately applicable in a practical way” (p. 9). Again, they use a contrast between logic for practical skills and logic for the sake of knowledge/information and imply that Short’s comments are not meaningful in light of the purpose to which the manuscript was written.
In addition, Johnson and Blair deny Short’s criticism of the long-windedness of the manuscript, by addressing two audience members that Short do not explicitly consider. First, they consciously speak to the publisher, contrasting their manuscript with others on the market and arguing for the superiority of their own. They point out that those other textbooks do not provide detailed accounts, such as how different fallacies occur, why they are fallacious, why people commit them, and so on. Their manuscript simplifies the taxonomy of fallacies so as not to confuse “people who need a fairly simple working map of the area” (Johnson and Blair 1975, p. 9). Neither do these other textbooks use actual, everyday arguments; they instead use artificial ones. These points would be selling points for the manuscript. Besides, the criticism on the length does not consider another group of the audience of the textbook – university students without much philosophical background:
Note that what would be worrisome would be non-philosophers finding the text long-winded. It can be tedious for a philosopher to work through material treated in detail when he already knows it backward, but not so for a student meeting the ideas for the first time. (Johnson and Blair 1975, p. 10).
Constructing the main readers of the textbook as someone who do not have much philosophical background but need skills in argumentation, they attempt to persuade the publisher that Short’s review is off the mark. Given the main readers of the textbook, they need to offer a detailed account for helping students’ skills for argument evaluation.
Finally, on the issue of narrow scope, Johnson and Blair acknowledge the criticism that standard logic courses covers larger scope of topics than their manuscripts does. However, since the logic course can use more than one text, it does not follow that their work would not be used in logic courses. Besides they remind the publisher that their text has aimed at different markets from the outset, such as humanities courses, communications arts courses, community colleges and high schools. For these reasons, they doubt whether their textbook would not be competitive with other textbooks.
Having responded to these two reviews, Johnson and Blair (1975) offer general concluding remarks. They thought “(i)t is unfortunate that the reviewers were not fully acquainted with the goals and scope of the text” (p. 12). In addition, they request the publisher that the manuscript be sent anonymously to the reviewers, for their affiliation with University of Windsor may remind the reviewers of the university’s previous ties with Catholicism, which may adversely influence how the reviewers think of Johnson and Blair’s credibility. In the last sentence, they advance another punch line against Long:
Finally, we would like to see a copy of our comments about Long’s review get back to him. (p. 12).
Although McGraw-Hill Ryerson seemed to have already agreed with Johnson and Blair to have another round of reviews before they sent their rejoinder, it could have improved Johnson and Blair’s credibility as writers of the textbook for evaluating argumentation while discrediting the initial reviews. Both of the second-round reviewers (Trudy Govier and Michael Gilbert[iv]) positively supported the publication of Logical Self-Defense, and it was eventually published in 1977.
The above close historical-rhetorical analysis of the argumentative exchange between Blair and Johnson and the initial two reviewers presents us with the following issues to be considered: (1) importance of the goal/purpose of argumentation and (2) use of argumentation schemes or argument based on division. In the review process of Logical Self-Defense, parties concerned were Johnson and Blair, the reviewers, and the publishers. In this argumentative situation, what mattered the most for the arguers was not to resolve difference of opinion, to enter into negotiation, or to maintain the difference among arguers: the ultimate purpose/goal of this argumentation was to convince the third party (the publisher) of the substance of writing as well as their own credibility as arguers, with the polemical questioning of the other party’s credibility functioning as a subsidiary purpose/goal. The analysis of this argumentative exchange seems to endorse the view of many theorists of argumentation (Pragma-Dialecticians, Gilbert, Johnson, Govier, to name a few) that the goal of argumentation is important. However, the present article also suggests that applying a certain pre-existing purpose/goal in interpreting argumentative text may systematically deflect our attention to what is actually going in the text. Although this historical-rhetorical analysis does not deny the importance of ready-made goal/purpose of argumentative exchange, it suggests that argumentative dialogues are inherently mixed, and we have to reshape our understanding of the role of the goal/purpose. The goal/purpose is an important construct for argument evaluation, but we should rather leave the goal/purpose as a null set, which arguers and critics fill in each time they enter into argument or argument evaluation. This way, critics can maintain the adequate balance between theory and practice of argumentation. On the one hand the critics can rely on different theories of argumentation in reconstructing the argumentative situation and interpret the illative core and dialectical components of arguments; on the other hand they can avoid distorting what is actually going on in the particular argumentative situation. In other words, any pragmatic theory of argumentation, which emphasizes particular sets of the ready-made purposes/goals of argumentation ought to be viewed as a frame of reference for understanding the argumentative text, but the text in itself should be the starting and end points for offering situated theories that pays enough attention to the argumentative situations.
Secondly, the above historical-rhetorical analysis has revealed that both parties appeal to the argumentation scheme of division, or the use of contrast. Referring to the existing knowledge of logic such as straw person major/minor premiss, and counterexample, Long contrasts Johnson and Blair with ‘professional logicians’, thereby drawing a conclusion that the manuscript ought not to be published because Johnson and Blair are not up to professional logicians. In contrast, Johnson and Blair resort to the argumentation schemes of division and show the difference between the careful critic and the uncareful critic, logic for practical skills and a body of information of applied/informal logic, successful teaching practice and the uncareful critic who is misled, and defensive logic and offensive logic. These differences collectively support Johnson and Blair’s thesis that Long is not a good reviewer and they need another round of review by good reviewers. Resorting to the argumentation schemes of division, both parties express their disagreement on what logic should be or how it should be taught to the students. A more important but discouraging sign in Long’s use of division is that it reveals some bias of a traditionally-trained philosopher to then emerging informal logic movement. Literature of informal logic has repeatedly reported the negative reactions of the establishment of philosophy against informal logic, and this review process clearly shows an instance of the explicitly expressed bias. Although this is a discouraging sign, a historical-rhetorical analysis would help us collect instances of the bias against informal logic and understand what the bias has actually been like, and would help philosophers of argumentation and informal logic strategize how to justify argumentation and informal logic within the discipline of philosophy.
Although this paper has examined one pivotal argumentative exchange in the process of publishing Logical Self-Defense, further in-depth analysis of the whole process of publication of the book must be conducted; for it is not clear yet how Johnson and Blair gradually crystallized the triad criteria of relevance, sufficiency and acceptability through revising the manuscripts several times, or how the second-round reviewers’ comments on the length of the manuscripts helped to decide the final product of Logical Self-Defense. In addition, additional historical-rhetorical analyses of the argumentative exchanges between informal logicians and other philosophers may help uncover the bias of the philosophical community against informal logic. This being said, the author hopes that the present paper has shed light on the emergence of informal logic and convinced the readers of the legitimacy of history of argumentation as a potential significant area of inquiry for argumentation scholars.
[i] Although Eemeren, Grootendorst, Snoeck Henkemans, Blair, Johnson, Krabbe, et al. (1996) refer to some historical facts of the recent argumentation theories, they do not critically examine how those facts came into existence. Further promoting history of argumentation studies requires the historical-rhetorical approach. I take this phrase from Turner’s ‘rhetorical history’, a close analysis of archived or unpublished materials and use of interviews in the historical research. It helps us discover how argumentation scholars used symbolic means to propose and defend their scholarly ideas in key historical events.
[ii] One more line of criticism by Long is that Johnson and Blair are not consisitent in the use of letters (A, B, and C, or P1, P2, and P3) in standardizing arguments. Since this is not a strong criticism, this paper does not discuss it.
[iii] Although dismissing the need of counterexamples here, the second edition of Logical Self-Defense explicitly uses the notion (Johnson and Blair 1983, p. 3). It is not clear whether the newer edition has expanded its focus to deal with logical offense as well as defensive logic.
[iv] Michael Gilbert has informed the author that he was the reviewer during the ISSA conference. I appreciate him for providing the information.
Annonymous. (n.d.a). Re: Applied Logic R. H. Johnson & J. A. Blair.
Anonymous. (n.d.b). Untitled.
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