ISSA Proceedings 1998 – The Tacit Dimension In Argumentation

ISSAlogo1998Actual act-performing thinking is an emotional volitional thinking, a thinking that intonates, and this intonation permeates in an essential manner all moments of a thought’s content.  – Mikhail Bakhtin, Toward a Philosophy of the Act.

“The twentieth century has been a time of extraordinary change in every branch of philosophy and the social sciences, above all epistemology,” Stephen Toulmin writes in a recent essay (1995: ix). This change, he goes on to say, amounts to the “abandonment” and even “death” of the “Cartesian program of ‘modern philosophy’” that influenced our understanding of knowledge from, roughly, 1650 to 1950, and was marked by “excess individualism” (1995: xiii, xv).
Toulmin’s work, I believe, has contributed much to bringing about that change, for his reconception of reasoning offers an alternative to the “three underlying assumptions” that he identifies as supporting the Cartesian “research program.” These are:
1. the certainty axiom, which holds that knowing is building “demonstrably certain” systems;
2. the representation axiom, which holds that knowing begins in the “inner theater” called “the mind”; and
3. the individualism axiom, which holds that knowing is a “personal and individual accomplishment” (1995: x).

In this paper I propose that these three assumptions work to suppress a tacit dimension of argumentation that is crucial for developing a post-Cartesian understanding of rationality. This tacit dimension is acknowledged by Toulmin, Rieke and Janik (1984) as “the general body of information, or backing, that is presupposed by the warrant appealed to in the argument” (1984: 26). The source of this information, they go on to say, is the “culture that forms our initial values, attitudes, and expectations” and thereby “equips us. . .with ways of thinking and reasoning whose underlying basis or backing is not always made explicit” (1984: 66). Typically, these implicit contributions are presumed to be less rational than the explicit information, evidence, testimony, principles and rules which provide the data, claim, and warrant of an argument. This paper is part of a larger project which argues, contrary to that presumption, that both tacit and explicit contributions be evaluated without hierarchical preference in argument analysis.
A crucial step toward doing so is showing how factors that often are dismissed as less rational (or even irrational) function as the Backing component of an argument as analyzed by the Toulmin Model. Both Toulmin in The Uses of Argument (1958) and Toulmin, Rieke, and Janik in An Introduction to Reasoning (1984) say relatively little about Backing. This neglect, I believe, enables the survival of a crucial building-block of the Cartesian program – the dichotomy of fact and value – within Toulmin’s influential and on-going rethinking of reasoning. My aim here is to contribute to the development of a post-Cartesian understanding of rationality that was initiated by Toulmin, Chaim Perelman and others, by explicating and respecifying the nature and role of Backing as the tacit dimension of argumentation. [i]

This dimension provides the cultural, emotional, and volitional impetus for everyday argumentation. These factors are often dismissed as merely incidental to the setting of an argument – which is to say, they are all too easily categorized as outside of rationality.
Acknowledging them as the content of Backing enables us, instead, to identify and evaluate them as providing (in Bakhtin’s words) an “intonation that permeates in an essential manner all moments of a thought’s content” (1993: 34). Correlatively, this recognition of Backing as the tacit dimension requires respecifying Warrant as the explicit rules and procedures that justify connections among elements within an argument.[ii]
I begin with a brief consideration of the first and second axioms that Toulmin identifies as underlying the Cartesian program. I find that the Toulmin model provides powerful alternatives to both of these “underlying assumptions.” I then look more closely at the third (“individualism”) axiom, and find remnants of this assumption remaining within Toulmin’s reconception. It’s present in relation to that aspect of the Toulmin model – Backing – which typically creates particular difficulties in explication and application.
My hope, then, is that explicating and respecifying both Backing and Warrant will offer the positive side effect of making the Toulmin Model an even more useful means for argument analysis. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 1998 – Methods For Arguer Reconstruction Of Arguments

ISSAlogo19981. Question
Human arguments (‘interlocked claims and reasons’, Toulmin, Rieke, & Janik, 1979: 13) are not neat packages that materialize in fully structured and explicit forms. Instead, human arguments are often informal and thus involve both implicit and explicit elements. Aristotle recognized this when he discussed the ideas of the enthymeme and the example as arguments used in everyday discourse based on the interaction between explicit message and thought process (1954: 28). Everyday human arguments are therefore usually a mixture of the explicit and the implicit, the said and the unsaid, and discourse and thought.
The resulting incompleteness of everyday argument historically has plagued the study of argument. Incomplete arguments, which are assumed to be those where part of the argument is not explicitly stated but is implicitly understood by the arguers, present a major problem for translating argumentation theory to the level of practical discourse and for using practical discourse in theory building. The problem, quite simply, is how to make incomplete arguments complete so as to insure comparability between their implicit and explicit forms.

Aristotle addressed this distinction by dealing with everyday incomplete arguments in such works as the Rhetoric and with complete arguments in such works as the Prior Analytics and the Posterior Analytics. The connection for Aristotle was the idea that argument forms were the same, differing only in their completeness, their degree of certainty, and their interaction with the receiver. After Aristotle, theorists came to emphasize the explicit nature of argument, which eventually solidified into formal logic with its focus on the explicit presentation of all parts of an argument (Kneale & Kneale, 1984).
The rediscovery of everyday argument in the twentieth century has again raised the question of the role of incomplete arguments. Theorists in the informal logic and in the rhetorical traditions have placed a premium on examining arguments that are usually in incomplete forms because of a concern for the way everyday human argument functions. Furthermore, at the end of the twentieth century, as the analysis of everyday argument has moved into intercultural settings, the problem of incomplete arguments has become even greater. For example, in cultures such as Japan, implicit and incomplete communication is even more of a norm than in the West.

2. Review of Literature
Several approaches have developed for dealing with the problem of explicating incomplete arguments. The most prominent approach has been for a theorist to reconstruct an incomplete argument so that it appears in complete form. This is usually done in terms of what van Eemeren, Grootendorst, Jackson, & Jacobs (1993) call the normative approach; i.e. the incomplete argument is reconstructed on the normative basis of what argument should look like. Formal logicians on the basis of models of formal logic patterns sometimes carry out this process. More contemporary theorists such as van Eemeren, Grootendorst, Jackson, & Jacobs (1993) have developed elaborate normative models based on what the process of argument should look like. Their model seeks to reconstruct an argumentative discourse “as if it were a critical discussion. That is, textual structure,propositional content, pragmatic functions, and so on are all imputed to the discourse with reference to what would be relevant to the resolution of the dispute” (38). However all of these normative approaches attempt to solve the problem of incompleteness by having the theorist reconstruct missing parts of the argument through an elaboration process. In theory, there should be some correlation between the normatively constructed arguments of the theorists and a descriptively constructed argument. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 1998 – Simplement, As A Metalinguistic Operator

ISSAlogo1998The use of simplement, I will be dealing with is often viewed as a weaker version of the adversative marker mais (known as ‘mais-pa’). Simplement, however, will not be appropriate in all the environments where mais-pa is to be found; furthermore, it affects cohesion in different ways, as it calls for different types of continuation, gives rise to a different situation schema and context construction, and lends itself to strategic uses of its own. In this paper I will attempt to clarify those various aspects, which, following Anscombre and Ducrot, I will construe in procedural terms, or in terms of semantic constraints on interpretation.

1. Introduction
The use of simplement (henceforth SPT) I am concerned with is one that occurs in examples such as:

(1)
A: Pourquoi est-ce tu ne manges pas ta soupe? Elle est froide?
B: Ce n’est pas qu’elle soit froide, simplement je n’ai pas faim.
A: Why aren’t you eating your soup? Is it cold?
B: It’s not that it’s cold, it’s just that I am not hungry.

(2)
A: Pourquoi est-ce que tu ne veux pas voir Marie?
B: Ce n’est pas que je ne veuille pas la voir, simplement je suis fatigué.
A: Why don’t you want to see Marie?
B: It’s not that I don’t want to see her. It’s just that I am tired.

(3)
A: Ils ne sortent jamais. Est-ce parce qu’ils ont trois enfants?
B: Ce n’est pas qu’ils aient trois enfants. Simplement ils préfèrent travailler le soir.
A: They never go out. Is that because they have three children?
B: It’s not that they have three children. It’s just that they prefer working in the evening. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 1998 – Reductionism In Fallacy Theory

ISSAlogo19981. What Does “Reduction of Fallacy Theory” Mean?
The Scope of this Paper
In contemporary theory of argumentation fallacy theory has become a subdiscipline on its own, rather separated from positive and systematic approaches to establishing criteria for good arguments. This at first glance is a bit strange, and another approach seems to be more natural: First there should be a positive theory of good arguments, among others, providing exact criteria for good arguments; then ‘fallacy’ should be defined as an argument not complying with these criteria; finally, there should be a systematization and explanation of fallacies in relation to those criteria. And given the historical fact of a wealth of fallacy theory, an additional task should be: to define exactly and to explain the falsity of all traditionally known and scrutinized types of fallacies with respect to the criteria for good arguments (and the justification of such criteria), or to reject their assumed fallaciousness, and to decide open questions in fallacy theory. This project I call the “reduction of fallacy theory”.
The advantages of such a reduction are rather obvious: The explanation why something is a fallacy is not ad hoc but justified by a positive theory of arguments; there are exact criteria for dividing fallacious from correct arguments; a complete systematization of fallacies may be developed; etc. But up to now there are only few attempts at a reduction of fallacy theory. One reason for this is the poor state of positive argumentation theory itself, viz that there are even less attempts to develop exact criteria for the correctness not only of deductive arguments but of several other types of arguments and arguments in general as well. Even existing endeavours to reduce fallacy theory are suffering from this disease, e.g. the pragma-dialectical approach.[i]
I have developed such a positive theory of arguments, the “practical theory of arguments”, which provides exact criteria for the correctness of several types of arguments and for arguments in general and which gives epistemological reasons for these criteria.[ii] In what follows I shall sketch a reduction of fallacy theory on the basis of the practical theory of arguments.

2. What are Fallacies? – A Definition of ‘Fallacy’
What do I mean by “fallacy”? A rather common and, I think, completely right idea in current fallacy theory is that logically invalid arguments are not the only type of fallacy and that there are informal fallacies as well. But some important theorists now extend the expression “fallacy” to false moves in discursive dialogical argumentation (e.g. Eemeren / Grootendorst 1995: 136; Walton 1991: 224). Some reasons they offer for this are: Otherwise the purpose of argumentation could not be taken into account (Eemeren / Grootendorst 1995: 133 f.; Walton 1995: 232); only this would allow to treat the pragmatic aspects of arguments and fallacies (Walton 1991: 224). But this is not true: Purposes and pragmatics exist already on the level of monological argumentation when an arguer e.g. in a book presents an argument to an addressee for convincing him. In spite of that prominent account in fallacy theory I use the term “fallacy” exclusively for incorrect arguments or incorrect use of arguments, with “argument” meaning something that consists of a thesis, an indicator of argument and further judgements describing grounds for the thesis; the latter judgements I name “reasons (for the thesis)”. False dialogical moves I call “incorrect debating”; one big subclass of incorrect debating consists of fallacies. I shall restrict my analysis to fallacies in the expounded sense – not denying that we need a theory of correct and incorrect debating too. Theories of correct or incorrect debating presuppose theories of correct argumentation and of fallacies. But these theories instead can be developed independently of those theories; and not all fallacies are forms of incorrect debating, e.g. fallacies in books often are not because they are not part of a debate. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 1998 – Arguing Emotions

ISSAlogo1998These reflections on emotions in rhetorical argumentative discourse build on Walton’s pioneer work while re-evaluating the role of emotion in argument. First, I’ll list some important questions which, nevertheless, can’t be dealt with here since they would go beyond my present scope. Second, I’ll present the general framework of the study ; third, I’ll propose a method permitting a systematical treatment of emotion in some kind of discourses, and, by way of conclusion, I’ll give a brief illustration.

In the discussion, I’ll use the following two examples (these texts are analyzed more fully in Plantin, to appear a, b, c.) :
– A militant text about Ex-Yugoslavia, entitled “Sarajevo : Citizenship Assassinated” [Sarajevo : La citoyenneté assassinée]. This text constructs in an ideal audience, emotions ranging from apathy to pride, via shame. It is a classical written rhetorical address, delivered by a leader of a democratic movement ICE “Citizens Initiative in Europe” [Initiative des Citoyens en Europe], calling for democratic action and intervention in Ex-Yugoslavia. This address, which will be referred to as (D1), introduces a leaflet entitled “Ex-Yugoslavia – Proceedings of the Third ICE Meeting, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Ulm Street, Paris, December 1992”  [Ex-Yougoslavie – Compte-rendu de la troisième rencontre ICE, ENS Ulm, Paris, décembre 1992].
– A paper from the newspaper Le Figaro (moderate wing of the right) February 13, 1997, about the evolution of the structure of the French population since the beginning of this century : more and more people live in town, less and less people in the country. As shown by the title “The empty parts of France : the frightening figures” [La France du vide : les chiffres qui font peur], this text exemplifies the rhetorical construction of fear ; it will be referred to as (D2).

1. Preliminary questions
To investigate the emotional involvement of participants in a communicative event would be a whole program, maybe a domain, in itself. It goes without saying that essential problems can’t be touched here, such as :
– The problem of the universality of so-called basic emotions : are they universal or language and culture specific ?
– The connection emotion – action.
– The conceptual / terminological distinction between emotion, affect, feeling, or psychological state. All these terms will be used indifferently in this paper, “emotion” being considered as an “umbrella term”.
– The question of emotion as drawing a dividing line between rhetorical studies and argumentation studies won’t be tackled, either as a conceptual question or as a historical legacy.
– and finally, the problem of the evaluation of “emotional interventions”.[i]
We’ll focus on the discursive / rhetorical dimension of emotion.

2. A basic situation : dissenting about emotions
If we turn now to the general framework, one fundamental point must be made first.[ii]  Some situations or events are intrinsically perceived as “emotional”, for example dangerous and fearful (imagine a big truck speeding towards you). In other situations the same information, linguistic or perceptual, doesn’t elicit the same emotional reaction : One person may feel nothing while the other may overreact ; it’s an individual matter, rather like a musical event. Consequently, some psychologists (though not all) argue that there is a cognitive component in emotion. Thinking of the link language-cognition, a rough formulation of our research question would be : are there linguistic counterparts or correlates of this cognitive component ? Such a program can build on a whole set of research in pragmatics, pyschology, discourse analysis and grammar. The following ones are particularly interesting : Cosnier (1994) ; Scherer (1984a, 1984b) ; Caffi & Janney (1994) ; Ungerer ; Balibar-Mrabti (1995). Classical rhetoric should appear right on the top of this list (Lausberg, 1960) : actually, it is very often possible to trace back some modern “principle of inferencing” or “emotional axis”, or “cognitive facet” to some well-known old rhetorical topos or rhetorical recipe. So, to use Scherer’s words, I would say that I’m interested in the structure of the linguistic component of emotions. Now, this is a very general theme, how is it related to argumentation studies ? Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 1998 – The Problem Of Truth For Theories Of Argument

ISSAlogo1998I. Introduction[i]
A. The historical background
In the beginning, as I like to tell the story, there is Aristotle. His Prior and Posterior Analytics present what might be thought of as the original theory of argument. According to it, a good argument must satisfy two conditions. First, the argument must be valid; that  is, the conclusion must follow logically from the premises. Second, the premises must be true.[ii] In modern logic, much the same story is told by combining truth and validity in the ideal of soundness which becomes enshrined in the logic doctrine of the 20th century. (In (1986), I baptized this theory as FDL, an abbreviation for “formal deductive logic” and shall continue to so refer to it.) There are those who object that the idea of soundness was never intended to be the whole story of what counts as a good argument. That may be true. Yet the fact remains that many logicians and philosophers have presented it as such (Lambert & Ulrich 1980) and continue to do so (Solomon 1989).
For centuries, FDL reigned supreme as the theory of argument, until it was challenged by theorists like Toulmin and later Hamblin and later still informal logicians, and others who take the view that FDL does not provide an adequate theory of argument. Some, like Toulmin (1958), challenged the architecture of FDL; others like Hamblin (1970) challenged the truth-requirement; still others (Barth 1985) and Govier 1987) have challenged the deductivism they believe is implicit in FDL.
A kind of standard critique of FDL has emerged which goes as follows. Soundness is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for goodness in argumentation. It is not necessary because there are good arguments which do not satisfy this requirement, such a good inductive arguments. It is not sufficient because there are argument which satisfy this but are not good arguments. An example would be an argument which begs the question yet has true premises. I am sympathetic to the first line of argument though not to the second, the reason being that the example used to make the point (typically “p p”) strikes me as an implication rather than an argument.
In this paper, I am interested only in the issue of what has come to be called premise-adequacy: What requirements must the premises of a good argument satisfy?[iii] Must they be true, as FDL theorists have insisted? Or is something “less” – acceptability – adequate, as some informal logicians have held (Govier, 1996)? Or should we embrace both sorts of requirement, as both Allen (1997) and I (1996) have argued?
B. The significance of the issue
The issue is an important one. For one thing, the old ideal promoted the notion that the only really good arguments are conclusive arguments – a dangerous doctrine tending toward skepticism and so well worth challenging. My concern it that the alternative suggestion – that the premises of an argument must be acceptable – is some ways so problematic and weak that it may promote an unhealthy relativism and so well worth challenging.
C. My position
The position I defend in this paper is that logicians and argumentation theorists should include truth as a requirement for premise-adequacy. I begin by examining the arguments for including it. I then examine the arguments against. I then put forth what I believe is a decisive line of reasoning for including it. Then I review the dialectical situation, draw some conclusions, and end. Read more

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