ISSA Proceedings 1998 – Argumental Deduction: A Programme For Informal Logic

ISSAlogo19981. A remark on logical practices
The business of logic is to provide us with the wherewithal for the evaluation of arguments. Not everyone will agree with so blunt a statement but most will accept it as close enough to the truth insofar as logic figures in argumentation and argumentation theory.
I want to begin by looking at some of our logical practices. By a ‘logical practice’ I mean a logical method, even if it is only loosely defined, that is used more or less widely.
Consider first propositional logic set up as a natural deduction system. This is one of our logical practices. With this method we identify an argument’s premises and conclusion, write them in the syntax of propositional logic and then, by as many applications of valid inference rules as needed, we write a series of sentences the last of which is the argument’s conclusion. If we are successful we have a proof that the conclusion follows logically from the premises, i.e., that the argument is valid. Using the Venn diagram method for testing syllogisms is another of our logical practices. We map only the argument’s premises on the diagram and then examine it to see whether the given conclusion is present. The syllogism is valid just in case expression of the premises on the diagram is at once an expression of the conclusion too.
As a last example of one of our logical practices, think of informal logic. Not a few informal logicians teach that an argument is good only if the premises satisfy three conditions. One of these conditions is that they must be acceptable. The others are that the relationship between the premises and the conclusion must be such that the premises are relevant to the conclusion, and sufficient for the conclusion.
What these three kinds of logical practice, and some others, have in common is that they seek to evaluate arguments by examining the relationship between an argument’s premises and its conclusion directly. Each method requires that we determine whether the conclusion follows from the premises; that is, given the premises, the question is “by the standards in use, can the conclusion be said to be a logical consequence of the premises?”. It might not true. Consider, for example, the practice of logical analogies.

In evaluating arguments by logical analogy we proceed as follows:
A target argument, H, is presented for evaluation. A familiar argument, B, known to be a bad argument, is held to be structurally similar, or parallel, to argument H. Hence, H is a bad argument. For example, let the argument to be evaluated be

No liberals are conservatives
All liberals are supporters of socialized medicine
So, No conservatives are supporters of socialized medicine Read more

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Public Argument And Civil Society: The Cold War Legacy As A Barrier To Deliberative Politics

ISSAlogo1998The often dramatic happenings in Eastern and Central Europe a decade ago, as well as subsequent events in the Soviet Union which resulted in its eventual rupture, made for a revival of interest in the idea of civil society with all of its historical and philosophical meanings.
Thus, for example, Karl E. Birnbaum wrote in 1991: “In a Europe where democracy is finally writ large all over the continent, the present major tasks of political reconstruction more than ever requires the active participation of individual citizens, of civil society” (84).

In the political arena, Vaclav Havel, shortly after his election as President of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic, affirmed the importance of the idea: “. . . the principle of civil society represents the best way for individuals to realize themselves, to fulfil their identity in all the circles of their home, to enjoy everything that belongs to their natural world, not just some aspects of it” (1992: 32).
In later years, Havel expanded the notion of civil society to serve as the guarantor of political stability. When he addressed the Parliament and Senate of the Czech Republic on December 9, 1997, partially in response to the forced resignation of Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, Havel used the occasion to reflect on the progress of the Republic: “The more developed all the organs, institutions, and instruments of civil society are, the more resistant that society will be to political upheavals or reversals” (1998: 45). A truly democratic system would not be threatened by a scandal, a crisis or some banal event. “In my opinion,” Havel said, “this can only happen because we have not yet created the foundations of a genuinely evolved civil society, which lives on a thousand different levels and thus need not feel that its existence depends on one government or another or on one political party or another” (45).
In another part of the world, former U.S.A. Senator Bill Bradley, a popular and well-regarded politician who decided not to seek re-election in 1996, views civil society as key to the American experience: “American civilization is like a three-legged stool, with government and the private sector being two legs and the third being civil society, the place where we live our lives, educate our kids, worship our God, and associate with our neighbors” (412). Like Havel, Bradley views civil society as containing the seeds for democratic renewal: “Within civil society lies the zest to deal with what ails us as a nation” (414).
Finally, in Jürgen Habermas’ recent works in communication, political and sociological theory, he argues the need for an enlightened civil society in order to make deliberative politics function. To Habermas, “civil society is composed of those more or less spontaneously emergent associations, organizations, and movements that, attuned to how societal problems resonate in the private life spheres, distill and transmit such reactions in amplified form to the public sphere” (367). Without minimizing the difficulties of a viable civil society, Habermas stresses its importance to basic constitutional guarantees. He argues: “The communication structures of the public sphere must rather be kept intact by an energetic civil society. That the political public sphere must in a certain sense reproduce and stabilize itself from its own resources is shown by the odd self-referential character of the practice of communication in civil society” (369).
In this paper, I want to examine the potential for civil society to serve as a mediating force in democratic practices. I will argue that civil society is culture-specific and that its potential can only be explained, understood and utilized within a particular national or ethnic setting; that current discontent in the American situation may well be attributed to a fractured and decaying civil society. Finally, I believe that the cold war as a dominating idea had a particular and debilitating impact on American civil society, damaging the argumentative practices necessary for meaningful deliberative politics to have cogent meaning. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 1998 – Argumentation And Public Debate

ISSAlogo19981. Introduction
Arguments play a role in public debates. Nobody will contest this statement. Disagreement starts when trying to specify what roles arguments play. In order to simplify I would like to distinguish two extreme positions. At one extreme, public debates can be conceived as argumentation. That means that each public debate can be understood as a complex process in which disagreements concerning a standpoint are settled or confirmed with the help of arguments and counter arguments. In this view, public debates are rational resolutions of conflicts of opinion with the help of proper arguments. The ultimate nature of public debates is made up by some form of collective rationality. Such a conception can be elaborated in various ways, such as by Habermas (1981) or by Van Eemeren (1987) and Grootendorst. These elaborations will give some attention to possible disruptions of the rational resolution process. As public debates take place in contexts of social, political, religious and economic confrontation, these approaches will admit that there may be all kinds of disruptions and breakdowns of public debates, which can be explained by unequal power relations, by lack of suitable information or by the adoption of dogmatic positions.
Another extreme position will understand public debates as expressions of power struggles. Any move is suitable as long as it helps to win. In other words, debates are just continuations of fights or disguised forms of war. Fights and wars can also be conducted in a rational way. Machiavelli could be seen as a proponent of such a view, or in modern social science, the french sociologist Bourdieu (1982). In this view, public debates are disguised forms of fights, and the proponents will not deny that arguments are used in such a process. However, the arguments used do not have any intrinsic strength as such. They serve for manipulation and maybe for easy victory. As soon as arguments will not be sufficient to guarantee victory, they will be replaced by other means, such as exclusions of some participants, formulating new agendas, the necessity to decide at once, etc.

The aim of this contribution is rather modest. I will not try to reject one or the other of these conceptions. Anyway, both offer useful and suitable instruments of analysis which have proven to be fruitful in some contexts of research. I will restrict myself here to analyze how arguments and other means of intervention are used in public debates and how they can be combined. In the conclusion I will outline how elements of the two mentioned conceptions can be integrated.
I will start by presenting a working definition of public debates and present some of their characteristics. In the central parts I will discuss forms of exclusions from public debates and their incidence on arguments and also mechanisms of participating in public debates and the role of arguments in these mechanisms. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 1998 – The Case For Cooperative Argumentation

ISSAlogo1998For the past several decades, argumentation theorists and instructors have become increasingly committed to developing and adopting perspectives designed to improve the quality of critical reflection and deliberation. These scholars and ducators are particularly interested in developing an approach to argumentation designed to equip people around the world with the knowledge, skills and understanding needed for ethical and effective decision making. To this end, argumentation scholars are looking anew at basic assumptions within the field.
In this essay, I seek to contribute to this project by focusing on one such assumption. Specifically, I challenge argumentation theorists to reconsider the prevailing assumption that argumentation is inherently oppositional, adversarial, and confrontational. I suggest that a cooperative approach to argumentation theory, practice, and pedagogy provides an alternative grounding, one that overcomes key obstacles to ethical and effective individual and group decision making in diverse practical contexts.

1. The Prevailing Competitive Model
In their landmark treatise on argumentation, The New Rhetoric, published in 1969, Chaim Perelman and L. Olbrechts-Tyteca offered a viable alternative to the cartesian dualism dominating the field of philosophy at that time. Perelman, Olbrechts-Tyteca, Stephen Toulmin, Wayne Booth, and other scholars in the New Rhetoric school proposed a theory of argumentation that offered a middle-ground between the certainty demanded by (but never attainable to) formal logicians on the one hand, and the arbitrariness to which so many scholars and practitioners acquiesced during this time. New Rhetoric scholars sought to provide a rigorous theory of practical reasoning, grounded in history and context, while providing cross-contextual criteria for assessment. This quest for a rigorous, yet contingent approach to practical reasoning continues to drive much productive work in the field. A brief overview of some recent efforts reveals, however, that fulfillment of the work’s potential has been hampered by unexamined acceptance of a key underlying assumption.
In their treatise, Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca assume that all argumentation is aimed at gaining or increasing the adherence of minds to a thesis. This basic assumption continues to undergird much work in the field today. In her insightful introduction to the Spring, 1996 special issue of Argumentation and Advocacy, for example, guest editor Catherine Helen Palczewski notes that the field continues to rely heavily on an “argument-as-war” metaphor. Even Trudy Govier – who has worked hard to “differentiate argument as rational persuasion from disputes or fights” – nevertheless adopts “vestiges of argument as combat” in her lexicon. Palczewski notes further that Brockriede characterizes argument in terms of “competing claims,” while Zarefsky writes of argument as “verbal conflict.” Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 1998 – Abductive Limits To Artificial Intelligence In Adjudication Pervasive Problems Of Analogy, E Contrario And Circumstantial Evidence

ISSAlogo19981. Introduction
Not that long ago the following thesis was defended (as a more or less funny supplement to a doctoral dissertation, as is usual in The Netherlands): The best circumstantial evidence for the existence of non-human intelligence is the fact that such intelligence made no attempt to contact us (Kwint, 1997). It may be left to the reader to decide to what extent this argument is analogous, and/or e contrario, whether it relies on circumstantial evidence and whether it may be salvaged from the pitfalls of such arguments. Anyway, it will be argued here that there are limits to artificial intelligence in adjudication, based on problems pertaining to abductive argument in analogy, e contrario and circumstantial evidence. Such arguments seem to be based upon “original data”, like analogata, denial of legal conditions and circumstantial evidence.
But analogy and e contrario cannot be but based upon underlying general rules and principles and the law as some or other kind of coherent whole. In their turn, such general rules, principles and coherent wholes cannot be exclusively based upon any original data. At best, such data play a subordinate role in validation or justification of general rules and coherent wholes. Analogously, the value of circumstantial evidence depends upon wholes of facts possibly related to such evidence. Such wholes may contain factors explaining circumstantial evidence more adequately than the facts for which proof is wanted may do.
If this holds good, no artificial intelligence may be expected to generate the implicit premisses of abductive argumentation in adjudication. Artificial intelligence is expected to proceed from an input consisting of data derived from the law and from facts, ranging from statute law to specific adjudication and factual evidence, circumstantial or otherwise. Such input appears to be inadequate in principle.

There are quite a few general and abstract arguments against artificial intelligence in the law or at least purporting to show clear-cut limitations to such artificial intelligence. Counter-arguments stressing that the proof of the pudding is in the eating (analogy here too) may not be implausible against such abstractions. However, arguments presented here are to be quite specific, pointing to forms of argument in adjudication which cannot be thought away without completely curbing such adjudication. Analogy, e contrario and circumstantial evidence may seem rather special forms of argumentation, but in fact they are implicitly pervasive in adjudication. Similarity and difference are the life of the law, just as is circumstantial evidence for facts, rarely supported as such facts are by direct and indubitable evidence.
To clarify this particular argument against artificial intelligence in adjudication, the concept of abduction will be explained first. Here, a specific conception of validation of abduction will be proposed, as relying on explication of enthymemes (§ 2). Next, analogy will be explained as abduction of underlying general rules or principles from the original analogon. Analogy will appear to be a particularly weak form of abduction, as the original analogon contributes only a highly marginal part to evidence for analogy. Such evidence consists of implicit general rules and principles, relying upon some or other whole or wholes of the law in their turn (§ 3). Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 1998 – The Good Case For Practical Propositions: Limits Of The Arguer’s Obligation To Respond To Objections

ISSAlogo19981. Introduction
This paper will discuss several questions about public deliberative argumentation raised by Trudy Govier’s conception of a Good Case. In the interests of “developing realistic standards for the evaluation of arguments and argumentation,” Govier distinguishes between an Exhaustive Case for a proposition and a Good Case. Unlike the Exhaustive Case, she observes, “the Good Case does not require that the arguer respond to all objections and all alternative positions.” (Govier, 1997: p. 12) This important concept has special significance for studies of the public argumention which enables groups, institutions, polities, etc. to reach decisions regarding their future acts and policies. It may be that Govier’s conception of the Good Case identifies a basic contour of the normative ideal for public deliberative argumentation. To explore this possibility, I will, first, attempt to identify an ideal function for public deliberative argument which plausibly implicates a Good Case as its normative ideal. Second, I will try to clarify the concept of a Good Case as a norm for deliberative argumentation.

2. The Normative Status of a Good Case in Public Deliberation
The issue here is not whether Govier’s conception is important. Most approaches to the study of argumentation would, I think, recognize that given limitations of time, circumstances, etc., often an arguer could not reasonably hope to establish an Exhaustive Case for her position; the best that could be expected from an advocate in many situations is a Good Case – a body of argumentation which, at least provisionally, dismisses some remaining objections and (possibly) some alternative positions. Rather, the issue concerns the normative status a of Good Case as contrasted with an Exhaustive Case. Is the concept of a Good Case merely remedial, applying to argumentation which falls short of the ideal Exhaustive Case, or does the concept of a Good Case delineate an ideal appropriate to some modes of argumentation and, specifically, to those which involve interpersonal deliberation about practical concerns? I do not hope to answer this very difficult question; in the discussion which follows, I will only attempt to show it poses a serious choice for students of argumentation.
The view that an Exhaustive Case is the normative ideal against which all modes of argumentation are to be assessed has widespread and well articulated support in current studies of argumentation. It has able champions in the pragma-dialectical approach to the study of argumentation developed by Eemeren and Grootendorst and significantly elaborated by many others. According  to pragma-dialectics, the norm of an Exhaustive Case corresponds directly to the ideal end served by argumentation. In this well-known view, argumentation ideally serves to resolve disagreement on the merits. (Eemeren & Grootendorst, 1992: 34; Eemeren, Grootendorst, Jackson & Jacobs, 1993: 25) Resolving a disagreement is held to require more than merely settling a difference of opinion by setting aside or repressing doubts and objections; rather, resolution of a disagree occurs “. . . only if somebody retracts his doubt because he has been convinced by the other party’s argumentation or if he withdraws his standpoint because has realized that his argumentation cannot stand up to the other party’s criticism.” (Eemeren & Grootendorst, 1992: 34) A resolution-oriented system is “structured in such a way as to assure that if it comes to any settlement at all, the settlement is one recognized by both parties as correct, justified, and rational. Hence, one characteristic of the ideal model is an unlimited opportunity for further discussion; an ideal system does not constrain the possibilities for expansion of a discussion” (Eemeren et al., 1993: 25).
In short, the ideal of resolving a disagreement on the merits requires, according to pragma-dialectics, that proponents of a standpoint establish an Exhaustive Case, a case which answers all pertinent doubts and objections to the satisfaction of the parties to the disagreement. Read more

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