ISSA Proceedings 1998 – Falsification And Fieldwork In Recent American Anthropology: Argument Before And After The Mead/Freeman Controversy

ISSAlogo1998Ethnographic fieldwork – going into the bush, into the unknown – to study some ‘tribe’ has arguably been the central feature of cultural or social anthropology in this century.[i] “Ethnography has been, and is, the sine qua non of cultural anthropology. It accounts for our initial status and networks within our profession, legitimizes us as ”real” anthropologists. . . and provides us with the means to survive the publishing dictates of the academy.” (Farrer 1996: 170). It has been taken as primarily the product of the individual researcher and as relatively unproblematic. It then provides the evidential foundation for anthropological theory, which is where controversy enters. Debates are about the implications of the ‘research findings’, not typically the findings themselves. In the last decade and a half, there has been increased attention paid to just how ethnographies are rhetorically constructed by an anthropologist.
This is a valuable emphasis, but I am adding another – looking at how fieldwork is criticized and accepted as reliable after publication. I explore this process as a social activity by the discipline in light of its various audiences. To do this I focus on what led up to and followed Derek Freeman’s attack on Margaret Mead’s Coming of Age in Samoa. My concern is not with argument by Mead or Freeman per se – that has been done (Weimer 1990, Marshall 1993).

A bit of quick history. In 1925 Margaret Mead went to American Samoa to test G. Stanley Hall’s then current account of adolescence as inevitably stressful.. Her subsequent book refuting Hall and giving a compelling portrait of South Sea life, Coming of Age in Samoa, became a bestseller, and its view of adolescent development, particularly in sexual relations, had a great influence on American culture. Mead became the best-known anthropologist in America, a veritable cultural icon (Lutkehaus 1996).
In 1983, five years after Mead’s death, the first notice of the Australian anthropologist Derek Freeman’s critique of Mead was published on the front-page of the New York Times; a media event ensued, complete with television appearances. Freeman, who dedicated his book to Karl Popper, the philosopher who championed the importance of falsification in science, claimed to have definitely falsified Mead, as well as offered a more adequate account of the interaction of biology and culture. A multitude of reviews and rejoinders followed; Freeman replied vigorously to many of these.
The American Anthropological Association even took a vote deploring the recommendation of the book by the magazine Science 83. In 1989 a documentary film, Margaret Mead and Samoa (Heimans 1989), apparently supported Freeman with an interview with one of Mead’s informants who stated that she and other Samoan girls had “pulled Mead’s leg in response to probing questions about their personal lives, and that Mead, then 24 years old, believed their tall tales” (Monaghan 1989: A6).
Why was the Mead-Freeman controversy such an event? For some anthropologists, there has been a certain befuddlement – why won’t it go away? One reason is the sheer number of issues involved – ranging from particular questions such as the degree of Mead’s facility with the Samoan language, to the personalities involved, to larger issues such as the nature-nurture debate and social responsibility of scientists. It is a mistake to say, as some have, that “it was really about” one thing and not another. Nonetheless I focus in this paper primarily on the relation of an epistemic matter to a standard rhetorical one, on how anthropological fieldwork claims are taken to constitute reliable evidence or knowledge for the audiences of anthropology. Following Lyne, I distinguish anthropology’s intra-field audience – other anthropologists, its inter-field audience – other scholars and scientists outside the discipline, and its extra-field audience – the general or educated public (Lyne 1983). My issue involves how, as Lyne puts it, epistemic expertise is projected to these various audiences. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 1998 – Rhetoric As Ideological Pronouncement: An Analysis Of The Cardinal Principles Of The National Entity Of Japan

ISSAlogo1998The concept of kokutai or ‘national structure’ derived from the fundamental insularity and isolation of the Japanese. The concept served as a powerful linguistic weapon both for attack and defense in the political arena of the period 1931-1945…. [A]fter the Meiji Restoration, ‘national structure’ was used to signify the uniqueness of the existing government of Japan. The word became a glorification of that order, a claim that the present had existed since time immemorial. Since the oldest book extant was the Kojiki, which recounted the descent from heaven of the ancestor of the Royal Family, the national structure was generally understood to centre on an unbroken line of emperors of heavenly origin. – Tsurumi Shunsuke

Over the past centuries, scholars of rhetorical communication have been grappling with a fundamental nature of argumentation that continues to shape and reshape social, political and religious structures of human society. Literature suggests that whereas most scholars acknowledge its critical or sometimes subversive effects, some have paid a considerable attention to enemies of argumentation such as ideology, myth, and propaganda. For instance, Marxists are concerned with ideology as the ruling ideas of the epoch in an attempt to investigate what might be termed the internal life of the ideological realm and to provide detailed and sophisticated accounts of how a society’s “ruling ideas” are produced. Religious scholars have argued that myth, as sacred tales concerned with the origins of natural or supernatural, or cultural phenomena, serve various roles available within the articulated social cosmos for community members to achieve a position of influence within the social hierarchies or to find ways of operating meaningfully as contributing members. Finally, the scholars of media studies have explored the tension between the principles of democracy and the process of propaganda since the notion of a rational person, capable of thinking and living according to scientific patterns, of choosing freely between good and evil seems opposed to secret influences or appeals to the irrational.
Given that, it is surprising to know that there has been very little discussion about “ideological pronouncement,” which means a sort of rhetoric which undermines and limites the possibility of critical discussion among target audiences. In what follows, I will explore “ideological pronouncement” as an enemy of argumentation. First, I will contend that the nature of argumentation is primarily characterized as an engagement in critical/rational discourse. Second, I will define the nature of ideological pronouncement as an engagement in fascist/anti-realist discourse. Specifically, the essential constituents for such an enactment can be identified as anti-realism, a lack of critical space, and especially, one-sided communication.
Finally, I will investigate Japan’s wartime textbook, the Kokutai no hongi, or Cardinal Principles of the National Entity of Japan (hereafter it will be referred to as Cardinal Principles) as a rhetoric of ideological pronouncement. In 1937, the Cardinal Principles was published by the Japanese government and became the most widely employed moral education textbook, an official attempt at indoctrination of its nationalist principles: “first printing of approximately 300,000 copies was distributed to the teaching staffs of both public and private schools from the university level to the lower cycle of elementary schools” (Cardinal Principles 10). As of 1943, the book is said to have sold approximately 1,900,000 copies. Given such enormous popularity, it seems appropriate to use the Cardinal Principles as a prime example of fascist discourse.

1. Argumentation as engagement in critical/rational discourse
Let me start the discussion by posing a question: Why is ideological pronouncement problematic or undesirable? To answer the question, I will define and examine the following three concepts: argumentation, argument, argumentativeness. First, argumentation is generally recognized as “the process of advancing, supporting, modifying, and criticizing claims so that appropriate decision makers may grant or deny adherence” (Rieke & Sillars 5). This audience-centered definition holds the assumptions that the participants must willingly engage in public debate and discussion, and that their arguments must function to open a critical space and keep it open. From this perspective, as Chaim Perelman has rightly pointed out, the aim of argumentation is to gain the adherence of others. Hence, argumentation should be viewed as an interactive process between arguer and audience to determine the appropriateness of an advocated claim based upon data presented with reasoning given. Only the arguments that exceed a threshold for audience acceptance will survive or prevail, and others will disappear or fade away. This way,  argumentation plays a chief role in the critical decision-making process. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 1998 – The Pragma-Dialectics of Visual Argument

ISSAlogo19981. Introduction A number of recent commentators (among them Birdsell & Groarke 1996, Blair 1996, Groarke 1998, and Shelley 1996) have discussed the role that visual images play in public argument. The present paper is an attempt to sketch a pragma-dialectical account of this role. I will call the argumentation which employs such images “visual argumentation” in order to stress the extent to which the images in question can be compared to verbal claims. Because a detailed account of the pragma-dialectics of visual argument is beyond the scope of a short paper, I will more modestly attempt to sketch some cental features of such an account. In the process I will emphasize two aspects of pragma-dialectics: (i) its commitment tospeech act theory and (ii) the principles of communication it uses to explain implicit and indirect speech acts. I end with some remarks on an approach to visual argumentation which is fundamentally at odds with the one that I propose. 2. Visual Images as Speech Acts Any pragma-dialectical attempt to understand how visual images inform public argument must begin with the recognition that such images can, like verbal claims, function as speech acts in argumentative exchange. Understanding such exchange in a pragma- dialectical way, we can say that argumentation is a reasoned attempt to resolve a dispute, that a dispute centers on a a standpoint which is “entails a certain position in a dispute,” and that an argument is an attempt to defend a standpoint (Eemeren & Grootendorst 1992, 14). The question whether visual argumentation is possible thus reduces to the question whether visual images can be used to express standpoints and defend them, and can in this way contribute to the critical discussion which revolves around disputes.[i] A comprehensive account of visual images in argumentative contexts requires a detailed account of visual meaning. Because such an account is beyond the scope of the present paper[ii], I will instead demonstrate the possibility of visual argumentation with some select examples. The first is reproduced below. It is a World War I American political cartoon drawn by Luther Bradley and published in the Chicago Daily News. Though the message is in part visual, it functions as a pointed comment on the causes of the war. Ingeniously, Bradley portrays the world at war as a person afflicted with a terrible tooth ache and the world’s “old” monarchies as dental crowns. The nurse labelled “The Spirit of Peace” provides his own diagnosis: the war will end and the world will enjoy peace and comfort only when its old crowns are removed.


“The Spirit of Peace”

Press has described the view of international politics which characterizes this and other American cartoons of the same period in his book, The Political Cartoon. “War is,” it holds, “made necessary by the machinations of corrupt and archaic feudal monarchs. Such outmoded feudal leaders seek war because they glory in the pomp of military splendour and aggrandizement, or else they are prone to excesses and saber rattling that inadvertently leads to war. The root cause of war is thus… feudal monarchs and self-proclaimed Emperors [who] vie with each other for the spoils of empire, in a manner suited to the Middle Ages or to Graustark or Zenda, but not to modern times. The solution to war is to replace an outdated feudalism…” (Press 1981, 158). In presenting the standpoint this implies, Bradley’s cartoon functions as a speech act which may appropriately be called an “assertive.” The proposition it asserts might be summarized as the claim that “If the world is to enjoy peace, then old monarchies must be removed.” In the present context, it illustrates the point that a visual image may present a standpoint and in this way initiate or contribute to critical discussion. As in the case of standpoints expressed in purely verbal ways, one might agree with Bradley’s position and adduce evidence in support of it. Alternatively, one might – like Press – argue that it is founded on the simple minded view that American democracy is a panacea which can, if propagated, solve the world’s problems. The important point is that Bradley’s standpoint can thus become the locus of argumentative exchange. Bradley’s cartoon might usefully be described as a sophisticated visual metaphor. His standpoint might therefore be said to express the view that “The world is (like) a person with a bad tooth ache who needs old crowns (monarchies) removed.” Not all visual images can be classed as metaphors, but the role that visual and verbal metaphors play in critical discussion makes the important point that standpoints are often expressed in ways that extend beyond literally intended verbal claims. The study of visual argumentation in this way extends argumentation theory beyond this narrow compass. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 1998 – On The Fallacy Of Fallacy: Arguing For Methodological Difference: Producing vs Processing

ISSAlogo19981. Introduction
Fallacies have always been in the centre, or near the centre, of argumentation studies. In fact they lie at their roots in two senses: most approaches to argumentation have sprung from a consideration of what is amiss in human reasoning or thought, and theories of argumentation stand and fall with their capacity for detecting errors. In other words, fallacies are the cornerstone of argumentation theories very much like paradoxes once percieved by Russell as the stumbling block of scientific theories: they constitute the boundary conditions within which human thought and action remain to be rational. For a long time fallacies and rationality had been taken to be the two sides of the same coin, until certain evidences appeared to undermine their interdependence. They came basically from two sources: the psychology of decision making and the semantics and pragmatics of inferences in language use. Now it is no longer the exclusive power of argumentation theory that matters but their inclusivity, i.e. how charitable they are with faulty reasoning, error making and unjustified action. If fallacy theory does constitute a major divide, it works rather like a filter through which the beyond normal is let upon the territory of the rational; or at most it is a tradeoff between the rational and the irrational.
In this paper I am not going to take stock of the enormous data corroborating the “legal status” of irrational moves in thought and action; I only elaborate a little on the diagnosis that with the cognitive turn in the 70s a new look on the methodological basis of argumentation is needed. Yet I will not adumbrate a methodology here because, as I see it, there is an important, and not clearly noted, distinction underlying most of the insights in cognitive science that should be reckoned with in the first place before any stand on argumentation can be taken. Since there is not enough room here to fully elaborate this distinction, I have to suffice with some important consequences. Thus I am doing a kind of archeology of knowledge in the Foucaultian sense, which may fall beyond the proper scope of argumentation theory, but if there is anything wrong with the idea of fallacy, as I think there is, it can only be identified in its undepinnings and its undepinnings are in cognition.
It is a most common opinion that the idea of fallacy is theory-laden: no fallacy without a theory. Now I want to oppose that view and try to argue for a rather strong claim that there are – at least some interesting – cases of language use when what appears to be fallacious or misplaced is not the given move itself but rather the attempt to judge what has been said or done as acceptable by some pre-set theoretical standards. Fallacies result then from a fallacious methodology; the methodology is fallacious for two reasons, which are however related.

2. The outline of the argument
I start then with the first reason why fallacies are originally methodological. It is constituted by what I take to be a major tension between the descriptive and normative ideal of argumentation theories. It is the basic claim of this paper that conflating the two inevitably leads to apocalypse. Thus it is because of the trafficking between the two ideals that John Woods could once call relevance theory as developed by D. Sperber and D. Wilson apocalyptic.
Since most frequently argumentative structures are the result of re-descripitions of utterances, in illustrating the first reason I will draw upon certain tenets from linguistic theory. This does not mean that I am necessarily biased by linguistic theorizing; rather the principles of understanding and producing language like relevance, graduality, similarity or structure mapping etc. should cohere with the more general priciples of argumentation. If our understanding of language, i.e. of what is said, is apocalyptic, there is not much chance of constructing a – let alone sound – argument out of it. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 1998 – Totalitarian Argumentation: Theory And Practice

ISSAlogo1998In the history of the 20-th century totalitarianism has left a deep and bloody trace. It has been connected not only with destroying civil public institutes and different deformations of people’s private and social life. This century totalitarianism turned out to be an Intellect of Devil with a capital letter which forced people to realize the necessity of replacing monistic Ratio by numbers of autonomous and competing with each other intellect instances. The connection between totalitarianism and intellect is paradoxical. Destroying the intellect with a small letter and thus discrediting the great Ratio totalitarianism created special communicative practices.
It’s wrong to believe that the power of totalitarianism can be explained exceptionally by the power of its repressive structures. A great role in its expansion is played by unrepressive mostly [first of all] verbal practices the core of which was an argumentation. “Argumentation is a social, intellectual, verbal activity serving to justify or refute an opinion, consisting of a constellation of statements and directed towards obtaining the approbation of an audience” (Eemeren, Grootendorst, Kruiger 1987:7). Argumentation is a way of human deeds coordination.
As Ch. Perelman says, that activity is the communication of intellects, American philosofer H.W. Yohnstone says, that activity is the most adequate way of realizing the human nature.In connection with totalitarianism argumentation becomes the devil of homo sapiens and needs the most serious attention. Analysing it we may probably come to answer the question inspired by H. Arendt: How a physically normal healthy person may lose the interest to his own beinq to realize himself as a screw, soldier of Totalitarian one. (Arendt 1951) Totalitarianism isn’t the antipode of democracy, but its another genesis, plebiscite-acclamatorian form, as J. Habermas says on the point. Some democracy theorists consider that totalitarianism and democracy are antipodes. There are two forms of democracy: a representative democracy and a democracy of participation “For the survival of democracy in Eastern Europe, where touch economic and social measures are to be taken, participation is a prereguisite. But more participation will also be indispensable in solving some of the problems inherent in the democratic system institutionalised in the West” (Eemeren 1996:9) Only an inaccurate look perceives acclamation as one of false democracy. The estimation of totalitarianism as extermal displaying of dominatuion and as a false arche is also simplified. It’s more realistic without declaring the totalitarianism visibility what is forbidden by the voice of its victims, which is knocking in the contemporaries hearts, to try to understand which properties the argumentation must have to be an effective megaphone ,the way of totalitarianism implementation. These properties were dissolved in communicative practices of totalitarianism and were not recorded by means of language. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 1998 – Arguing For Bakhtin

ISSAlogo1998“Bakhtin’s thought is so many-sided and fertile that he is inevitably open to colonization by others.” David Lodge, After Bakhtin.

In a recent paper, J. Anthony Blair (1998) laments a proliferation of terms that appear to be employed without discrimination or distinction: ‘dialogue’, ‘dialogical’, ‘dialectic’, ‘dialectics’, and ‘dialectical’. While he doubts it will occur, Blair proposes that ‘dialectical’ be reserved for “the properties of all arguments related to their involving doubts or disagreements with at least two sides, and the term ‘dialogical’…for those belonging exclusively to turn-taking verbal exchanges.” Setting aside his pessimism, what Blair identifies amounts to a clear trend toward ‘dialectical’ or ‘dialogical’ models of argumentation, a trend that has become more pronounced particularly among informal logicians in the last few years (Cf. Gilbert, 1997; Johnson, 1996; Walton, 1996, 1997).[i]
Of course, emphasizing the two-sidedness or turn-taking nature of argumentation may not amount to very much. Douglas Walton’s centralizing of ‘dialogue’ in his pragmatic account means that the dialogue provides the context which will determine the argument by virtue of telling us how the set of inferences or propositions at its core is being used (1996:40-41). And Ralph Johnson’s recent focus on a dialectical tier exists in relation to an underlying illative tier which is the premise-conclusion part of the argument’s structure (1996:264). But with these senses, it is possible (though not necessarily the case) for dialogue-focussed or dialectical argumentation to involve no more than an exchange of distanced, monological positions (perhaps through turn-taking, perhaps in whole), where each side presents its argument for acceptance or rejection (Shotter, 1997). Were such to occur, the current drive for a more genuinely interactive or ‘involved’ perspective might be lost.[ii]
It is here that the dialogism of Mikhail Bakhtin (1895-1975) seems particularly appropriate and in many ways an anticipation of current trends in argumentation theory (as with so much else). Shotter (1997) turns to Bakhtin’s views for an understanding of dialogical communication and argument within actual communities. I want to take this further and look for an actual perspective on argumentation, one that really captures the interactive nature of dialogue.

While Bakhtin was a philosopher of language and literature, it is primarily the latter that has been championed in the west where his theory of the novel has been particularly influential. But for argumentation theorists, there is much more to be culled from his ideas on language and communication generally. This paper will both explore what ‘arguing’ is for Bakhtin, showing how his general theory of speech and meaning implicates a particular concept of ‘argument’, and argue for Bakhtin’s role as an important figure in argumentation studies. I will approach the first task through paying attention to special features of Bakhtin’s concept of dialogism (here understood provisionally as the relationship of every utterance to other utterances). Extending beyond Shotter (1997), I derive a concept of argument totally embedded in context (no detached reconstruction of premises and conclusions can be true to it), where even the situation itself enters as a constitutive element. Arguments are essentially co-operative enterprises, opening up meanings to mutual (and third party) understanding, exploring others’ positions, and developing consensus.
Limited by the constraints of time and page-length, I illustrate the prospects for success with the second task by exploring ways in which Bakhtin anticipates an important aspect of Perelman’s work. In particular, I discuss Bakhtin’s treatment of audiences and the importance for him of the “hovering presence” behind conversation of a third part “superaddressee” (1986, 126)[iii]. This concept and Bakhtin’s associated discussion has compelling and instructive parallels with the “universal audience” of the New Rhetoric. Read more

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