ISSA Proceedings 1998 – The Use Of Metaphor In Scientific Argument: The Case Of Edward Clarke’s Sex In Education

ISSAlogo1998Contemporary research on metaphor has demonstrated with some emphasis that metaphor plays a significant role in science. Indeed, the discovery and description of the various functions performed by metaphor in scientific discourse has become a major research focus in metaphor scholarship (see Ortony, 1993). This focus was initiated in 1955, when philosopher Max Black (1955) argued in a landmark essay that metaphor constitutes “a distinctive intellectual operation” (79). By attributing cognitive content to metaphor, Black promoted the construct from a mere stylistic trope to a central figure in the process of scientific discovery. Subsequent research, including inquiry into the process of scientific modeling conducted by Black (1962) himself, established a virtual consensus regarding the necessity of metaphoric thought and description in science. Acknowledgment of this necessity can be found not only in the work of “metaphor-friendly” philosophers of science such as Thomas Kuhn (1993), but also in the work of logical positivists such as Ernest Nagel (1961).
This should not be taken to say that metaphor has been roundly embraced as a positive influence in science. Even Black (1955) was quick to point out that there is “no doubt metaphors are dangerous” (79). While metaphor may be indispensable in the process of theorizing, it can also mislead. The same heuristic function that enables metaphors to help us grasp new ideas can also serve to misdirect or limit our perceptions. In particular, there is an ever-present danger that metaphors will become reified or literalized. By this process, a metaphor, construct, or model becomes for the researcher not just a representation of reality, but the reality itself (Black, 1962).
There is a second fashion by which metaphor poses a danger in science. Not only can metaphor mislead researchers by construing their perceptions, but it can also serve a powerful rhetorical function in the interpretation of scientific data and the application of those data to social contexts. Metaphor can serve as a bridge from scientific data to personal or political interests, and in the process, the data itself is reconstituted according to the metaphorical entailments. This risk pertains not so much to the good-faith misapprehension of reality as to the intentional, persuasive uses made of the results of scientific investigation. Metaphor is particularly vital in such uses given its peculiar efficacy as an ideological tool. Although the ideological function of metaphor has been explored in traditional analyses of rhetorical artifacts, far less attention has been paid to this function in the discourse of science. In this essay, I wish to characterize the rhetorical potential of metaphor in the interpretation and application of scientific data by way of a case study. My progress will be made up of an initial exploration of the ideological functions of metaphor, followed by an examination of these functions in the work of nineteenth-century Harvard physician Edward Clarke.

1. The ideological function of metaphor
Edwin Black (1970) writes that any discourse asserts a model of what the author would have his or her real audience become. This model is almost never characterized directly, but is implied by way of stylistic tokens. By the choice of language, the fashion in which the argument is clothed, an author implies an outlook. Style in this context serves as perspective, and, Black notes, this perspective matters inasmuch as “auditors look to the discourse they are attending for cues that tell them how they are to view the world, even beyond the expressed concerns, the overt propositional sense, of the discourse” (165). In all, stylistic cues link discourse to an ideology, a “network of interconnected convictions that functions in a man epistemically and that shapes his identity” (164). Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 1998 – Delivering The Goods In Critical Discussion

ISSAlogo19981.The pragma-dialectical theory of argumentation [i]
In the 1970s, inspired by Karl Poppers critical rationalism, an approach to argumentation was developed at the University of Amsterdam that aimed for a sound combination of linguistic insight from the study of language use often called pragmatics and logical insight from the study of critical dialogue known as philosophical dialectics (van Eemeren and Grootendorst 1984). Therefore, its founders labelled this approach pragma-dialectics. In pragma-dialectics, argumentation is viewed as a phenomenon of verbal communication; it is studied as a mode of discourse characterized by the use of language for resolving a difference of opinion. Its quality and possible flaws are measured against criteria connected with this purpose.
In the 1980s, a comprehensive research programme was developed. This programme was, on the one hand, based on the assumption that a philosophical ideal of critical rationality must be developed, in which a theoretical model for argumentative discourse in critical discussion could be grounded. On the other hand, the programmes point of departure was that argumentative reality has to be investigated empirically to achieve an accurate description of actual discourse processes and the various factors influencing their outcome. In the analysis of argumentative discourse the normative and descriptive dimensions were to be linked together by a methodical reconstruction of the actual discourse from the perspective of the projected ideal of critical discussion. Only then, the practical problems of argumentative discourse as revealed in the reconstruction could be diagnosed and adequately tackled.[ii]
Crucial to grounding the pragma-dialectical theory in the philosophical ideal of critical rationality is a model of critical discussion. The model provides a procedure for establishing methodically whether or not a standpoint is defensible against doubt or criticism. It is, in fact, an analytic description of what argumentative discourse would be like if it were solely and optimally aimed at resolving a difference of opinion. The model specifies the various stages and rules of the resolution process, and the types of speech act instrumental in each particular stage. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 1998 – William The Silent’s Argumentative Discourse

ISSAlogo19981.William the Silent and the Dutch Revolt
This paper [i] is the second part of a two-part paper; the first part is entitled Delivering the goods in critical discussion (this volume). The general outlines of the framework we are developing for analyzing argumentative discourse are explained in the first paper. As a brief illustration of the application of our method, we shall here reconstruct some important features of an argumentative discourse produced by William the Silent, our 16th Century revolutionary.
As you may know, the years between 1555 and 1648 were a heroic period in Dutch history; they were decisive for the existence of the Netherlands as an independent state. These were the years of protest against the persecution of Lutheran, Calvinist and other Protestants, and resistance against the tyrannical Spanish Duke of Alva. Alva was governor of the Netherlands on behalf of King Philip II, who preferred to live permanently in Spain, which made that monarch more of a foreigner than his father, the Emperor Charles V, had been. The Revolt, as this period in Dutch history is generally called, led to the Abjuration of King Philip II and the founding of the Republic of the United Netherlands.
The political system Philip II inherited in the Netherlands can be described as a ‘dominium politicum et regale‘. On the one hand, the sovereign governed according to laws and rules of his own design. On the other hand, he needed the people’s consent to maintain these laws and rules (van Gelderen 1994). The political actions of Philip and his representatives were divisive in various respects; they led to an uproar that developed step by step into a real revolt. In this escalating development, various kinds of events and ideological considerations played a part. In the process, the Dutch Revolt became a fundamental source for the evolution of modern thinking about political power, the right of opposition, and national sovereignty.

The leader of the Dutch Revolt was William of Orange, better known as William the Silent – because of his gift of keeping his real purposes diplomatically hidden. Since William was not only in a political and practical sense the inspiration and guardian of the Revolt, but also the intellectual leader, he is honoured to this day as the Father of the Fatherland, Pater Patrias. Born in 1533 as son of the ruler of the German principality of Nassau, he achieved his prosperity and a prominent position at the court of Charles V by unexpectedly inheriting from his cousin René of Châlons the title ‘Prince of Orange’, with all its accompanying wealth. William then became one of the mightiest men in the Netherlands. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 1998 – The (Un)Reasonableness Of Ad Hominem Fallacies

ISSAlogo19981. Introduction
It is unknown exactly what ordinary arguers think of the discussion moves deemed acceptable or unacceptable in argumentation theory. Little empirical research has been conducted concerning their standards for easonableness. Bowker & Trapp (1992) have made an attempt into this direction, but their research gives rise to a great many theoretical, methodological and statistical objections.[i] Because knowledge of ordinary arguers’ standards for reasonableness is of theoretical as well as practical importance, we started a comprehensive research project at the University of Amsterdam systematically aimed at charting these standards.[ii] In the pragma-dialectical argumentation theory, which is the theoretical starting point of the project, unreasonable discussion moves are regarded as fallacious. The central question in the project is to determine to what extent such fallacious discussion moves are also considered unreasonable by ordinary arguers.
The term ‘ordinary arguers’ here refers to people who do not have any specific knowledge of argumentation theory and who have not received any specific education in this field. Do they regard all fallacies as absolutely unreasonable? Do they make any exceptions? Do they distinguish degrees of (un)reasonableness? Generally speaking, we are interested in investigating ordinary arguers’ standards for reasonableness and in examining their consistency in applying these standards. This article reports the findings of the first research conducted within this framework, focusing on ad hominem fallacies.

2. Conventional validity
In the pragma-dialectical argumentation theory, the various moves made in argumentative discourse are seen as part of a discussion procedure for resolving a difference of opinion concerning the acceptability of a standpoint (van Eemeren & Grootendorst, 1984 and 1992). The moves made by the protagonist and the antagonist are regarded as reasonable only if they contribute to the resolution of the difference of opinion. The pragma-dialectical discussion procedure is specified in a set of ten rules for critical discussion – thus constituting an ideal model of an exchange of views solely aimed at resolving a difference.
Any violation of the pragma-dialectical rules is an unreasonable discussion move, interfering with the aim of resolving the difference. Such violations reflect the type of errors commonly known as fallacies. From a pragma-dialectical point of view, fallacies are thus discussion moves that do not agree with the rules for critical discussion. The soundness of the critical discussion rules is first and foremost based on their “problem-validity”: the fact that they are instrumental in resolving a difference of opinion.[iii]

In order to resolve a difference, however, the discussion rules do not only have to be effective but they should also be approved upon by the parties involved. As a consequence, they must not only be problem-valid but also “conventionally valid”: they must be intersubjectively acceptable. The criterion of conventional validity is central to our research project. So far, the conventional validity of the pragma-dialectical discussion rules has only been subject of investigation in exemplary analyses, for example, by corpus research of text fragments taken from columns in newspapers, articles in magazines, and private and public discussions.[iv] From this material, due to lack of experimental control and various other factors, no conclusive evidence can be drawn. For example, no reliable conclusions can be achieved concerning the extent to which the discussion rules are conventionally valid. Speaking from an empirical point of view, it is still in the dark which variables determine the standards for reasonableness ordinary arguers apply in practice, either individually or in combination, in judging argumentative moves. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 1998 – Ubuntu Or Acknowledgment: An Analysis Of The Argument Practices Of The South African Truth And Reconciliation Commission

ISSAlogo1998Winnie Madikizela-Mandela looked uncomfortable as she faced the third day of public hearings by South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission examining her role in more than a dozen murders, many assaults, and her attempt to ruin the reputation of white, anti-apartheid Methodist bishop Paul Verryn.With Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu, the head of the Commission intervening from time to time, witnesses testified that Madikizela-Mandela was either actively engaged in the murderous assaults of her bodyguards or gave her approval of their criminal activities during the late 1980’s.
If this were the Nuremberg trials, the panel of distinguished judges would be deciding the length of Madikizela-Mandela’s prison term. But South Africa’s novel version of the truth commission, a quasi judicial way of coming to terms with past human rights violations in countries emerging from the shadow of oppressive regimes, seeks “truth telling”, acknowledgment and reconciliation – the public accounting of the country’s difficult past as a step to building a new South Africa.
The Commission’s mandated conclusion for its stories, acknowledged truth for amnesty, has met with much public critique. Many people find it difficult to believe that multiple murderers should walk free. Yet many in Nelson Mandela’s government are supportive of coming to terms with South Africa’s past through the commission rather than the courts. Richard Goldstone, a Constitutional Court judge, says: “Making public the truth is itself a form of justice.” But is the Commission’s construction of Justice spelled with a small j? Is the great emphasis placed on forgiveness, particularly by Archbishop Tutu, possible to justify in a discourse of “truth telling” about the cruelest of human torture by both white Afrikaners and the black ANC?

This essay analyzes the argument strategies used in the Commission’s construction of the story of South Africa’s human rights atrocities between 1960 and 1993. Through an analysis of portions of the proceedings, I will attempt to understand how that story interweaves as complete a picture as possible of the atrocities, the public shaming of those who admit committing the atrocities, and the Commission’s prescriptions for reconciliation.
A close examination of particular hearings is critical to understanding if the argument forms employed in the quasi-judicial proceedings of the Commission can produce reconciliation. For instead of a general amnesty and corresponding reparations for all perpetrators and their victims, there is only individual amnesty and recommended reparations. Much like a criminal court of law, individuals are charged, the “truth” of each incident is exposed, and authorities pass judgment on the basis of the evidence heard during the Commission’s proceedings. But unlike the criminal court, the end result is acknowledgment not responsibility, victims’ catharsis and not justification, and amnesty not punishment. I will argue that the Commission’s construction of the story of South Africa’s violent past produces arguments for public acknowledgment of the “truth” of human rights atrocities, but cannot deliver reconciliation. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 1998 – Magnitude Beyond Measure: Judgment And Justice In The Late Twentieth Century

ISSAlogo1998If classical tragedy has any residual wisdom for our age, it may lie in the possibility that the imperatives of forensic judgment prefigure a renewed sense of genuine civic life. Argumentation becomes rhetorical whenever it engages the priority, urgency, or importance of public matters. In the present century, the once-reliable borders, taboos, and hierarchies for grounding and guiding such argumentation have eroded, while the calamities and exigencies of our time have expanded in scale and enormity. Thus an ongoing dialectic of magnitude takes on the momentum of an irreversible process yielding a foreclosure of human agency, and virtuous reconciliation to catastrophe as fait accomplis. With this essay, I explore three twentieth century concepts designed to stabilize rhetorical argument over “magnitude’ in civic and social life; these are the concepts of the public, the spectacle, and the rhetorical forum. In the West, these concepts are the ironic legacy of three unlikely Nineteenth century rhetorical figures (Henry Thoreau, P.T. Barnum, and Ida Wells). In an institutional sense, these same three concepts are the residue of the three foundational genres of rhetorical argumentation; the deliberative, the ceremonial, and the forensic. Most important, these concepts depict inventional moods of civic argument; the utopian, the tragic/farcical, and the retributive/conciliatory moods of judgment and forgiveness. The body of my presentation will stress the allegorical voices of this latter forensic mood: in the Nuremburg trials, as well as in the International Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Such cases as these, exceptional as they are, help to capture the unfinished inventional possibilities of argumentation and civic culture.

The figures of Nineteenth century America – Thoreau, Barnum, Wells – loom over our still unfinished epoch with an expansiveness that seems larger than life. In mirroring back to us a cultural history more grand, and grandiose, than our own, they introduce nagging questions about what has become of magnitude as solitude, magnitude as magnificence, magnitude as the soul’s tumult: the implacability of rage within. Whether we might actually find or construct a map for the typical nineteenth century consciousness, it is clear that the vast panorama of that vision has receded.
The confident progressive histories, so prominent at a new century’s first moments, have also lost their traction. The not-always-felicitous union of concept and event, a residue of other discredited systems, continues to hover over the damage. It was Marx who once prophesied that philosophy would replace religion, only to be replaced by history and then politics. But the once-vibrant trajectory of modernity resists any easy assimilation. I do want to suggest, however, that even in an era of “dark times,” the work of rhetorical reflection, and all its attendant weights and measures, persists. Specifically, I want to show by way of some culturally specific evidence that magnitude, however momentous its eventful compass, may nonetheless be judged. Such judgment is not only possible. It is absolutely necessary if rhetoric itself has any lingering hope of surviving the crimes of the century. Read more

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