ISSA Proceedings 1998 – The Institutionalisation Of Argumentation Within Organisational Settings

ISSAlogo19981. Introduction
Very little research has been undertaken which considers the organisational setting of argumentation. The research which does exist tends to emphasise agency at the expense of structure – it either takes the perspective of individual political power and influence (e.g. Jablin et al., 1987; Krackhardt, 1990; McPhee & Tompkins, 1985) or explores the language of micro-contexts using discourse analysis (e.g. Watson, 1995; Barley & Tolbert, 1997; Cooper et al., 1996), or provides a methodology for relating argumentation in organisational interaction to the measurement and representation of managerial cognition (Sillince, 1995). This paper aims at laying the foundation of an organisational theory of argumentation which provides more theoretical links than exist at present to organisational structure and its constraints on individual members’ actions.

2. The setting
The setting comprises prototypical collectivities of individual attributes (goal, role, action and artifact), situational atmosphere (friendliness, relaxedness, time for reflection) and organisational attributes (function, form and stage of change). These define where in the organisation the setting is located and determine whether or not any warrant is appropriate. The setting affects warrant appropriateness in several ways – for example, an organisation’s function affects warrant appropriateness (e.g. trade unions use the fairness warrant), and also an individual’s goal affects warrant appropriateness (e.g. a powerless listener will be more likely to be persuaded by the fairness warrant than a powerful one). The concept of setting is implicit in the question: “what types of arguments occur in what types of organizational social systems, and why this is so” (Willihnganz: 1994: 920). Setting provides one boundary condition constraining the explanatory power of any theory.
Rather similar to setting is the concept of argument field. Argumentation often occurs between individuals who share important interpretations and who occupy social, cultural or organisation spaces called “argument fields” (Willard, 1982; 1983; 1988) or “argument communities” (McKerrow, 1980). Such fields are social or organisational contexts in which particular discourse norms (Grice, 1975), common grounds, and shared values are taken for granted and in which specific premises, warrants, and claims are appropriate. Argument fields constrain behaviour, because people “surrender a measure of their freedom to the entailments of the field’s concepts and traditions” (Willard, 1983: 149). Argument fields within organisations enable specialists to reap the rewards of their expertise, so long as that expertise is organisationally relevant – part of the expert’s argument from authority derives from her role – “… factual claims imply institutionalized credibility: they cannot be made unless the speaker is seen as in some sense speaking for an expert domain” (Willard, 1989a: 73).
Cultural differences in argumentation behaviour have been observed – for example, American negotiators have been found to rely more on argument by induction (e.g. “X and Y occurred in a number of cases and X is true so Y is true”), Soviet negotiators more on argument by deduction (e.g. “X occurred, and X implies Y, so Y is true”), and French and Latin American negotiators rely more on argument by analogy (Glenn et al., 1970), whereas Middle Eastern cultures value the use of hyperbole, dramatic non-verbal cues, and elaborate emotional expressions during argumentation (Gudykunst & Ting-Toomey, 1988). Chinese negotiators tend to ask many more questions and to interrupt one another more frequently than American negotiators (Adler et al., 1992). However, cultural similarities have also been discovered – for example, both Japanese and North Americans prefer positive compliance-gaining strategies, such as using promises over negative ones, such as using threats (Neuliep & Hazelton, 1985). It is in an attempt to transcend such potential sources of conflict that the idea has been introduced of the ‘ideal audience’ which rises above factional interests (Perelman, 1986: 8). Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 1998 – Argument Or Explanation? Propositional Relations As Clues For Distinguishing Arguments From Explanations

ISSAlogo19981. Indicators of argumentative moves
In order to investigate which types of words and expressions can be helpful in analyzing argumentative discourse, we started a research project at the University of Amsterdam that concentrates on verbal indicators provided by the Dutch language of the communicative and interactional functions of argumentative moves. Our project aims at making an inventory of potential indicators, classifying their indicative force in terms of the pragma-dialectical model for critical discussion, and describing the conditions that need to be fulfilled for a certain verbal expression to serve as an indicator of a specific argumentative move. The scope of the project is not restricted to indicators of arguments and standpoints, but extends to indicators of all speech acts that can play a part in resolving a dispute.
In carrying out our research, we make use of pragma-linguistic descriptions of connectives and other linguistic elements that can be indicative of aspects of argumentative discourse that are indispensable for an adequate evaluation. In our attempt to apply linguistic descriptions of markers of various kinds of textual relations in the analysis of argumentative discourse, we have encountered a number of obstacles. A major cause of this is that the most prominent approaches of indicators of textual relations are developed from a metatheoretical perspective that is crucially different from the functionalizing and externalizing approach favoured in pragma-dialectics. In addition, there is usually a difference of purpose: linguists are not particularly interested in analyzing argumentative discourse; their distinctions are therefore not geared to solving our problems of analysis.
In this paper, I shall begin by explaining the starting-points of our own pragma-dialectical approach to argumentative indicators. Next, I shall discuss the main problems we have with the relevant linguistic literature. Finally, I shall attempt to demonstrate the fruitfulness of our approach to the analysis of argumentative discourse. In this endeavour, I shall concentrate on the problem of distinguishing arguments from explanations.

2. A pragma-dialectical perspective on the analysis of argumentation
In the pragma-dialectical research programme, argumentation is approached from four basic meta-theoretical starting-points: the subject matter under investigation is to be ‘externalized’, ‘socialized’, ‘functionalized’, and ‘dialectified’ (Van Eemeren et al. 1996: 276-280). What are the implications of these starting-points when applied to the problem of analysing argumentative discourse?
First, functionalization. When analyzing argumentation, the purpose for which the argumentation is put forward is to be duly taken into account. Functionalization can be realized by making use of theoretical instruments from speech act theory, making the speech act the basic unit of analysis, with the propositional and the illocutionary level as its sublevels. By making use of pragmatic insights, the functions and structures of the speech acts performed in argumentative discourse can be adequately described. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 1998 – Two kinds Of Argument In Editorials Of Women’s Magazines

ISSAlogo19981. Introduction
Women’s magazines, understood as a popular feminine genre (Marshment 1993) and a form of self-help (Cameron 1995), aim at instructing and entertaining women (Ballaster et al 1991; McCracken 1993). Women’s world as portrayed in these publications is related to feminine social values, norms, problems, doubts and expectations within a personal, private sphere. These publications became a ‘feminised space’, with contradictions, asymmetry of gender differences and issues of sexuality constantly being re-worked (Beetham 1996).
Among the different genres and types of discourse found in women’s magazines are the editorials, also known as editors’ letters, comments or columns. These texts constitute a significant instance of advertising of the magazines, an example of ‘hybrid information-and-publicity (or ‘selling and telling’) discourse’ (Fairclough 1992:115). They are an amalgam of advertising and editorial material (McCracken 1993), since they provide information about sections of the issue but they do so stressing the wonderfully useful (from a Cosmopolitan editorial) features in the issue.
My investigation is based on principles of critical discourse analysis (CDA) which allow for the study of the bidirectional link between language use and context. Critical discourse analysis as a multidisciplinary field focuses on the complex relations between macro and micro linguistic features and different social issues, especially those concerned with ethnic, socio-economic, political or cultural inequalities. I specifically draw on Fairclough’s (1989; 1992; 1995) social theory of discourse with its three interdependent levels of analysis: text (lexicogrammatical features), discourse practice (analysis of the processes of text production and interpretation); and social practice (institutional, societal issues; power and ideology). Halliday’s (1978; 1985; 1994) systemic-functional grammar is considered an insightful linguistic tool for CDA studies, to analyze textual and contextual features.
An important aspect of discursive practices in contemporary society concerns the conversational, promotional (Wernick 1991) and confessional nature of discourse. Giddens’ (1984) concept of modernity is also useful to perceive globalized discursive practices in contemporary society, with local and global habits and customs, individual and collective aims put together.
As a researcher of a text aimed at women, I also found it necessary to investigate studies on language and gender which have proved insightful for the link between the contextual features and the text analysis. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 1998 – Visualizing Recognition

ISSAlogo19981. Introduction
My point of departure will be several related articles and a review published recently in the journal Argumentation and Advocacy that focus renewed attention on the question of whether visual images can be understood as arguments. And if so, then how? Should logic, rhetoric, or aesthetics be taken as the foundation upon which images can be understood as depicting an argument? Indeed, is a conceptual approach alone sufficient, or satisfactory?
These recent position papers review many a traditional answer; the conflict between image and concept is as old as the rivalry between rhetoric and philosophy. Some of these articles advocate taking one side of this relentless antagonism against the other. For example, J. Anthony Blair (1996) and David Fleming (1996) doubt that images can be understood as arguments unless and until their (manifest and latent) content is reconstructed into propositional terms, thus repeating the familiar subordination of aesthetics, literature, and rhetoric to the perspective of logic as the proper and sole critical method in the field of argument studies.
Gretchen Barbatsis (1996) takes the opposite approach and imports critical methods from literature, aesthetics, and media criticism to show precisely how much the reduction of an image to a proposition is a misreading that fails to understand the potential for manipulation in modern mediated forms of communication. And a recent collection of articles reviewed by Lenore Langsdorf advocates ‘visual literacy’ and a “recognition that a visual argument is, despite appearances of spontaneity, in fact being made by an unacknowledged argument partner, for less than evident purposes, and culminating in other than obvious conclusions” (1996: 50).
In many ways, the dispute over critical methods in the analysis of images raises two additional theoretical issues. The first is whether a descriptive or a normative model is the most appropriate for understanding the image as communicative form. The second is whether ‘argumentation studies’ as a discursive field should welcome or resist this importation of analytical models and critical methods from disciplines other than logic. Fleming resists just these centrifugal tendencies and wonders, rhetorically, if we now are to recognize pictures as arguments, “do we risk losing something important in our conventional understanding of argument?” (1996: 11). But whose ‘conventional understanding’ is at stake?: his restrictive sense of ‘argument fields’ limits debate by accepting only those definitions of argumentation already advanced by recognized authors in the same scholarly journals that promote a limited (and primarily deductive) definition of argument. This is a legitimate, but ultimately sterile move, although in extreme cases it raises the specter of a possible incommensurability of assumptions when these move across divergent disciplines. Yet since most argument scholars accept the norm that narrowing differences of opinion should count as the operative definition of the purpose of argumentation, this should not pose a real danger (except in cases of unsuccessful argument). Finally, as David Birdsell and Leo Groarke remind us: “Most scholars who study argumentation theory are… preoccupied with methods of analyzing arguments which emphasize verbal elements and show little or no recognition of other possibilities, or even the relationship between words and other symbolic forms” (1996: 1). Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 1998 – ‘Three Strikes’ And ‘Hail Mary’ Passes: Sports Metaphors In Public Argument

ISSAlogo1998The language of sports permeates public argument in the United States. In his study of the role played by sport and game in American culture, Oriard (1991: ix) suggests that sports metaphors are significant as they contain “American ideas not just about sport and play themselves, but about all the things for which sport and play have become emblems – heroism, success, gender, race, class, the law, religion, salvation; the relations of Humankind, God, and Nature.”
References to sport, either general or specific, are more than linguistic decoration. Invoking a sports metaphor can have profound implications on the discussion of competing policy alternatives. Since it would be impossible to do justice to all sports metaphors in a single work, this essay focuses on a series of sports used in two notable public arguments in America during the early 1990s. By analogizing criminals to baseball players, proponents of “three strikes” legislation have effectively masked underlying social and economic inequities that plague our society. Likewise, by analogizing American military intervention against Iraq to a football game, proponents of intervention in the Persian Gulf justified the use of force and legitimated our grand military strategy and battlefield tactics. While some claim that sports are ideology-free, repeated references to sports metaphors function to reinforce a dominant political ideology and authorize political action. This conclusion is not meant to damn sports, but rather to suggest that seemingly innocuous sports metaphors can, in fact, constitute a subtle, yet powerful form of argument.
This thesis is developed in more detail in the pages that follow. The first two sections of the essay document the use of the “three strikes” metaphor in public argument over criminal justice and a series of football metaphors in the public argument over American intervention in Iraq. Having documented the widespread usage of these metaphors, the next two sections consider how these metaphors functioned as analogic arguments for a particular set of policy options.

1. “Three Strikes and You’re Out”
Americans have grown increasingly concerned about crime over the past decade. According to Wilson (1994: 26), crime “was not a major issue in the 1984 presidential election and had only begun to be one in the 1988 contest; by 1992, it was challenging the economy as a popular concern and today it dominates all other matters. ” In a 1994 survey, Americans listed “crime and violence as the number-one problem facing the nation, far surpassing worries over the economy or health care” (Pettinico 1994: 29). To a large extent, this concern reflected the belief that crime was growing worse. Reports in the popular press, for example, routinely reported on innocent citizens who had fallen prey to career criminals. These horrific narratives take on new meaning when accompanied by statistics showing crime growing ever more violent.
Given the public clamor, it is not surprising that politicians from “both parties, from cities and suburbs, and from all regions of the nation are scrambling to establish a tough position regarding crime” (Pettinico 1994: 32). While some have advocated social programs stressing prevention or rehabilitation, retribution has come to dominate the political debate. National leaders have argued, with considerable eloquence and vigor, that swift and certain punishment is more effective than social programs purporting to target the causes of crime. If a crime is punished by probation, advocates have argued for incarceration; if the sentence for a crime is ten years, advocates have proposed that it be doubled; if the sentence is life, advocates have suggested the death penalty. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 1998 – Interactional Resources Of Argumentation

In the following paper I focus on some rhetorical practices that are used by interactants in arguments with others. I identify argument criteria interactants refer to and describe how they use them as interactional resources for their argumentation. My considerations are part of a broader study of conversational rhetoric in problem oriented and conflict interaction, conducted at the Institute for German Language in Mannheim, Germany (see Kallmeyer 1996). The main goal of this project is the analysis and description of interactive practices under a functional rhetorical perspective which is derived from an ethnomethodological approach to the study of conversation. Ethnomethodologists have so far mainly looked at the organizational order of interaction (see Garfinkel & Sacks 1970), we also investigate on forms of interactive influence and interactive effects of the participants’ interactive work.

In order to describe a wide range of rhetorical practices we take into account various dimensions of interaction that have been explicated by Kallmeyer and Schütze in a theory of the construction of interaction (Kallmeyer & Schütze 1976). According to this theory interactants have to carry out their conversation by simultaneously dealing with different dimensions of interactional organization (listed in Figure 1):

Organizational structure of talk
Thematical organization
Activity organization
Identity and relationship construction
Modality construction
Reciprocity organization

Figure 1 Dimensions of interaction construction

Concerning rhetorical practices, there are for example different practices of cooperation and constraint that are required due to the organizational structures of talk, or practices of social positioning of the participants due to identity and relationship construction, or practices of setting and blocking perspectives due to reciprocity demands. The context of my argumentation analysis is the dimension of thematical organization in problem and conflict interaction. Argumentation as a whole is seen then as one rhetorical practice for thematical clarification amongst other patterns such as for example story telling, reports, or portraying (see Kallmeyer & Schütze 1978). Thus, first I had to analyze argumentation as a whole and to work out the conditions under which argumentation is established and carried out in interaction.
Briefly put, interactants begin an argumentation when their thematical exchange runs into a deficit. Then they have to explain and give reasons. Typical deficits include dissent or uncertainty. Argumentation, then, is an interactive pattern for explaining a position and for locally clarifying the deficit and for then integrating the solution of the deficit into the „normal“ course of the current interaction. Formally characterized, argumentation has a three part structure consisting of initiating, carrying out and reintegration. I do not want to specify the difficulties of the empirical analysis of the argumentation pattern but to focus on argumentative relevances that interactants deal with during their argumentation. In the course of that I will point out resources of argumentation which are made relevant from the participants themselves in rhetorical argument practices. Read more

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