ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ Current Trends In Educational Research On Argumentation. What Comes After Toulmin?

Abstract: Although many education researchers exclusively use Toulmin´s model, more and more scholars opt for other Informal logic tools, such as dialogue models or argumentation schemes. The present paper describes this tendency of slowly moving from Toulmin to other models and gives a narrow focus to those articles that use other argument models than Toulmin´s to analyze and assess students and/or teachers´ arguments. As a final contribution, we provide a taxonomy of argumentation tools used in educational research in relation to a number of variables such as type of task, age of participants, disciplinary subject, and main skills assessed as significant.

Keywords: argument analysis and assessment, education, skills, taxonomy, tools, Toulmin.

1. Introduction
Since the early beginning of the informal-plausible logic theories as a counter-balance to the existing formal-deductive ones, scholars from the informal logic field have made suggestions on how argumentation should be instructed, or what is important when teaching argumentation (e.g. Voss & Means, 1991; Voss, Perkins, & Segal, 1991). In its almost 50 years of existence, if we consider Kahane´s ¨Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric” (1971) as the first official informal logic manuscript as proposed by Johnson (2000), informal logic has expanded into many schools of thought, especially regarding how informal arguments should be analyzed and assessed. Among them, we distinguish the following for their applicability in education research and practice: dialogue analysis, which focuses on argument as a dialogical process taking place in a specific dialogue context in which participants make a series of “moves” forming strategic sequences or even a dialogue game (e.g. Felton & Kuhn, 2001; De Vries, Lund, & Baker, 2002; Felton, 2004; Mcalister, Ravenscroft, & Scanlon, 2004; Prakken, 2005); argumentation schemes, which is a device that aims to formalize (in the sense of giving structure to) everyday arguments mostly related to plausible reasoning (e.g. Walton, 1996; van Eemeren & Grootendorst, 2004; Walton, Reed, & Macagno, 2008; Rigotti & Morasso, 2010); and dialectics and pragmadialectics, which apply in conflict argumentative contexts where one of the opposing views is more sound or acceptable than the other(s) (e.g. Barth & Krabbe, 1982; Walton & Krabbe, 1995; van Eemeren & Grootendorst, 2004).

Notwithstanding the plethora of informal logic tools and methods of analysis and assessment proposed, there is a remarkable tendency among educational researchers to apply Toulmin´s Argumentation Pattern (TAP) as it was proposed in the late fifties (Toulmin, 1958). TAP´s main original contribution was to oppose to the mathematical standards in logic at the time. From an informal logic perspective, TAP is still considered an acceptable method, as several contemporary authors have successfully addressed questions that Toulmin´s model had provoked (see Hitchcock & Verheij, 2005, for an overview). In the field of education, some of the reasons for its predominance are the following: a) its strong connection with science and scientific reasoning (Duschl & Osborne, 2002); b) its success in coding large data protocols (Voss, 2005); and c) its easiness to use as a measurement of both teaching and learning performance (Erduran, Simon, & Osborne, 2004). On the other hand, TAP also received several criticisms, such as: a) the model concentrates on the proponent (Leitao, 2000), b) it can be difficult to structure reasoning in real time (Simon, Erduran, & Osborne, 2006), c) we should study argumentation in a more holistic and emergent manner rather than imposing an existing analytical pattern such as TAP (Sampson & Clark, 2009), and d) the scheme is restricted to short arguments and the categories impose ambiguities (Kelly, Druker, & Chen, 1998). Read more

Bookmark and Share

ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ Linguistic Argumentation As A Shortcut For The Empirical Study Of Argumentative Strategies

Abstract: A recent interest for the empirical observation of argumentation through institutional practices was underlined by van Eemeren (2010). Since discourses give empirical hints which inform the observer on the institutional conventionalized practices involved in the study of strategic manoeuvring, there must be ways of describing meaning which allows to account for the dynamics of this field: a study of these ways is the object of this paper.

Keywords: empirical study of strategic manoeuvring, experiments in semantics, utterance meaning, sentence meaning, empirical observation of institutional practices, indirect observation, inhabited words, points of view, viewpoints semantics.

1. Introduction
Research in argumentation has acknowledged the important role of discourse in the study of argumentative strategies and manoeuvring. This acknowledgement is not recent; however, more recent is the inclusion, within the possible objects of research on argumentation, of the relationship between institutional contexts and argumentative discourse, via conventionalized institutional practices. The recent interest for the empirical observation of argumentation through institutional practices was underlined by van Eemeren (2010, p. 129) in these terms:

… the term argumentation [… also refers to] an empirical phenomenon that can be observed in a multitude of communicative practices which are recognized as such by the arguers. Because these communicative practices are generally connected with specific kinds of institutional contexts […] they have become conventionalized. Due to this context-dependency of communicative practices, the possibilities for strategic manoeuvring in argumentative discourse in such practices are in some respects determined by the institutional preconditions prevailing in the communicative practice concerned.

This new interest for an empirical approach to the relationship between institutional contexts and argumentative strategies, via communicative practices linked to institutional preconditions, opens a wide and important field of research, as van Eemeren convincingly shows it in his 2010 book.

As van Eemeren pointed out, the empirical study of this multidimensional space is possible because, among other reasons, all the terms of these relations are, at least partially, observable through discourse. Since discourse gives empirical hints to grasp the different facets of this space, it may be argued that there may be a way of describing meaning, which would allow to account, at lest partially, for the dynamics of those relations: this would provide a sort of shortcut to the description of argumentative strategies, as they are partially in-formed by the institutions. Obviously, such a shortcut lives aside an enormous part of the field opened by the abovementioned remarks. Nevertheless, for one who is ‘only’ interested in a better description of the semantics of natural languages, it offers interesting and rich perspectives.

This is what this paper is intended to show. We will also see that this shortcut is not a completely new idea in semantics: I will examine how several ideas borrowed from the paradigm of Argumentation Within Language can be adapted to an empirical study of the relationship between argumentation and the institutional constraints. Finally, I defend the idea that this shortcut is useful also for the one who is engaged in the complete study of the field: since most of what is observable in that field is discourse, it may be useful to make explicit the reasoning which compels to describe the institutional conventions the way we do. A rigorous semantic description is more than useful for this purpose.

Among the various ways of describing meaning that might meet those requirements, I emphasize the interest of several aspects of the so called “View-Point Semantics” (VPS), partially inspired by Mikhaïl Bakhtin’s work on the “inhabited” character of natural language words (see, for instance, Bakhtin (1929, p. 279), as well as by Oswald Ducrot’s work on the semantic constraints on argumentative orientation and strength (see, for instance, Ducrot (1988)). In particular, I insist on the technique it provides for, so to speak, extracting ideological and cultural preconditions from discourses, which inform the observer on the institutional conventionalized practices. Read more

Bookmark and Share

ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ Transparency In Legal Argumentation: Adapting To A Composite Audience In Administrative Judicial Decisions

Abstract: An important topic in the debate about transparency of the administration of justice includes the communicative function of judicial decisions. This function should be conceived as the judge’s aim to have his argumentation understood (the communicative effect), as well as to have it accepted (the interactional effect). In this paper I will analyse how the judge may maneuver strategically to achieve these effects on a composite audience. The analysis focuses on the communicative activity type of administrative judicial decisions.

Keywords: administrative law, audience demand, composite audience, judicial decisions, legal argumentation, legal opinions, Role-shifting.

1. Introduction
In a recent study (Broeders, Prins and Griffioen, 2013) that was conducted by the Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) it is argued that there is a need for `a more contemporary transparency of the administration of justice relative to the different ‘outside worlds’ with which it comes into contact.’ According to this study, the need for transparency has become urgent because of changes in society under the influence of globalisation, individualisation and populism. One of the topics in the debate about transparency includes the communicative function of judicial decisions.

From an argumentation theoretical perspective, the communicative function of a judicial decision should not only be conceived as the judge’s aim to have the argumentation underlying his decision understood (the communicative effect), but also to have his argumentation accepted (the interactional effect). The judge may be expected to have the intention to achieve these effects on the parties to the proceedings, his immediate addressees, as well as on a broader audience. Long before the current debate on transparency, literature on legal (argumentation) theory and on decision writing emphasized that, apart from the litigants in the case, the audience of the judge consists of members of the legal community (other judges, lawyers interested the decision), law students and the general public. In order to address such a so-called composite audience (van Eemeren, 2010) in his justification of the decision, the judge may make use of different techniques when maneuvering strategically.

A recent pilot study carried out in administrative courts in the Netherlands demonstrates that judges do at times, indeed, attempt to address a composite audience when justifying their decisions. In this contribution I will clarify which audiences may be addressed in administrative judicial decisions. Then I will analyse the way in which a judge may manoeuvre strategically to adjust his argumentation to these audiences. In view of this analysis I will start with a first attempt to characterize administrative judicial decisions as an argumentative activity type. Read more

Bookmark and Share

ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ Argumentative Strategies In Adolescents’ School Writing. One Aspect Of The Evaluation Of Students’ Written Argumentative Competence.

Abstract: Argumentation strategies constitute a crucial aspect of argumentation. The purpose of this paper is to explore the relations of the argumentative strategies observed in the writing of adolescents’ texts within language evaluation tests, to the elaboration of their theses and the evaluation of their argumentative competence. Despite the diversity of argumentative strategies employed, their standpoints are not fully elaborated and so their argumentative competence is diminished. These findings are important for the designing of argumentative teaching.

Keywords: Adolescents’ argumentation, argumentative competence, argumentative strategies, language evaluation.

1. Introduction
Argumentation strategies are of significant importance to the study and theory of argumentation. They reveal the deep structure of argumentation, the dynamic and convergent steps, moves and choices towards its construction, transcending semantic, pragmatic, lexico-grammar and rhetorical levels and relations. Strategic maneuvering is a term coined by pragma-dialectics to describe the multilayered functions of contextualized argumentation strategies (van Eemeren, 2010).

In evaluating students’ written argumentative competence, employment of a variety of strategies is considered a fundamental aspect of argumentation development (Swain & Suzuki, 2009). Argumentation strategies are connected to a high metacognitive level of awareness (Kuhn & Udell, 2007) revealing the abstract design patterns with and through which an argument text is constructed.

Within language evaluation tests, integration of reading and writing tasks draws a nexus of emerging dialectical argumentation strategies which supports students’ written argumentation potential. Nonetheless, activation of strategic routes to argumentation does not imply argument competence. It constitutes rather a first, step towards argumentative competence if reflective coordination, elaboration and contextualization of argumentative strategies do not apply.

1.1 Argumentation in educational context
Although arguing is considered an experiential ability acquired quite early in a child’s everyday life (Kuhn & Udell, 2003), its development and moreover its elaboration and connection to educational, institutional frames and disciplines is considered to be a highly demanding and challenging issue for both educators and students. Since critical thinking, science, communication, negotiation skills, decision making and social success were connected to argumentative skills (Baker, 2003, 2009; Byrnes, 1998; Gilardoni, pp. 723-725; Klaczynski, 2004; Kuhn & Udell, 2007, p. 90, Muller Mirza & Perret Clermont, 2009, pp. 127-144), teaching argumentation became a crucial issue for education. What is learned intuitively can be further elaborated through education thus offering equal opportunities for social and individual development to all social agents.

There have been various researches on the dynamics of argumentative skills within educational frames, all concluding its connection to a high metacognitive level, developed by age and institutional elaboration (Kuhn & Udell, 2003). Additionally, even teaching practice is regarded as a demanding argumentation approach (Macagno & Konstantinidou, 2012, pp. 2-3; Riggoti, 2007; Sandoval & Millwood 2005; Schwarz, 2009, pp. 91, 93).

1.2 Written argumentation in language education
Argumentation, as every communicational practice, is contextualized. Within pragma-dialectics this is a fundamental aspect of all the four principals (externalization, socialization, functionalization, and dialectification) in examining argumentation (van Eemeren, Grootendorst & Henkemans et al, 1996). Life domain, institution, instructional restrictions, subjects and culture construct the argumentative activity and consequently the argumentative type in practice (Eemeren van & Houtlosser, 2005, p. 70).

Although these variables are obvious in life situations and in dialogue involving agents’ interaction face to face, they are ‘hidden’ and require a cognitively demanding and conscious reconstruction in written argumentation, especially for a child, (Dolz, 1996; Rapanto, Garcia-Mila & Gilabert, 2013; Schwarz, 2009, p. 95) acquired through educational practices.

In language education students are asked to constantly move back and forth across a continuum consisting of two domain circles, the one of the physically observable context of education and the other of the life domain where the language learning activity is reflected. These moves are even more cognitively and communicatively demanding and require metacognitive awareness and strategic coordination, especially when the educational subject is written argumentation. Read more

Bookmark and Share

ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ Story Credibility In Narrative Arguments

Abstract: Recent work on narrative-based arguments has insisted on the importance, for assessment, of construing a theory of story “credibility” or “believability”. The main tenet of most approaches is the idea that a credible story should resemble “reality”. However, “narrative realism” is a rather problematic concept. The paper proposes a more nuanced, multi-dimensional and explicitly meta-argumentative approach to the assessment of arguments involving narratives, that would not prejudge their argumentative form or function.

Keywords: argument assessment, narrative argument, narrative rationality, narrative realism.

1. Introduction
Narrative argumentation, narration in arguments or the inherent narrativity of arguing and debating, are, no doubt, trendy topics in the field of argumentation theory. We heard several papers on these issues in last year’s OSSA 10th Conference and here in ISSA 2014, we have two complete panels labelled “Narrative argument”. Of course, this implies a certain variety of approaches and some clarifications as to the referents and the scope of my own paper are required.

First of all, even if I take W. Fisher’s narrative paradigm of rationality (1989 [1987]) as a truly attractive philosophical stance, that could yield interesting insights regarding the cognitive basis of our reasoning, I claim some of its assumptions may turn our attention away from the particularities of real discourse. If we assume that:
regardless of genre, discourse will always tell a story and insofar as it invites an audience to believe it or act on it, the narrative paradigm and its attendant logic, narrative rationality, are available for interpretation and assessment (Fisher, 1989, p. xi) there would be nothing specific to arguments involving explicit narratives as obvious parts or as a manifest linguistic strategy. Again, Fisher insists “When narration is taken as the master metaphor, it subsumes the others” (1989, p. 62). So my first clarification is that here I don’t mean to use “narrative” as a metaphor (however insightful) of what’s happening when we argue and listen to or interpret arguments; nor as the cognitive key (however revealing) to the widespread features of our species’ argumentative practices (as allegeddly Homo narrans). I will focus, instead, on the straightforward recognition of a variety of argument types and argumentative discourses in which the particular linguistic features and genre-specific qualities of narration play a significant role. Read more

Bookmark and Share

ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ Reasoning And Argumentative Complexity

Abstract: In this paper, I have investigated partially the relation between reasoning and argumentative complexity from the theoretical framework of text linguistics. For this purpose, I have explored both the ability underlying the activity of speaking (the ἐνέργεια) and the product created by this competence (the ἔργον). This work supports the hypothesis that the ability reasoning in terms of critical thinking (ἐνέργεια) of college students is related to formal argumentative complexity (ἔργον) of their discourses.

Keywords: argumentation, complexity, density, reasoning, thinking.

1. Purpose
This paper is part of research project Fondecyt Nª 1130584, whose main objective is to investigate the relation between reasoning and argumentative complexity from the theoretical framework of text linguistics. To this effect, I have explored partially both the ability underlying the activity of speaking (the ἐνέργεια) and the product that is created as result of this competence (the ἔργον).
From the first perspective, cognitive operations involved in this knowledge during the real activity of discursive production are suggested that, as proposed, are projected in the form of more or less complex, discursive texture or density, on the discourse. From the second, an initial evidence of argumentative complexity -based on the derivational property of propositions and from the notion of argumentative coherence that proceed of those- is provided.

2. Methodology
The work has followed an approach mixed quantitative and qualitative. In order to establish the capacity or level of ἐνέργεια of the subjects, 80 college students was tested applying the test Tasks in Critical Thinking, created in 1986 by an expert committee of the Educational Testing Service, United States. The tool considers both the multidimensionality of critical thinking and cognitive skills that it requires a priori in a test with 15 kinds of analytical reagents. The dimensions of the test considered are three: inquiry, communication and analysis.

In order to determine the degree of argumentative complexity of informants (ἔργον), I followed a qualitative approach, applying the procedures of grounded theory, through the Atlas / ti software.

3. Theoretical framework

3.1 Thought and language
The conception of a faint boundary between the notions of thought and language dates from Aristotle, when he says that the referents of the signs are the same for anybody (Aristóteles, 1986) to Wittgenstein, when he argues that the propositional sign applied is the thought (Wittgenstein, 2003).

Research in contemporary cognitive psychology, on the other hand, has shown that language is not the only cognitive capacity of the human being, but rather constitutes a module of a complex function which shares at least with the perception, memory, intelligence and thought; i.e., numerous specialized and relatively autonomous subsystems that, however, interact with each other to some extent. In this regard, it has been proposed that language is a cognitive module (Fodor, 1986) so that its mode of operation would not be found affected by the other components of cognition. In this context, and based on evidence such as FoxP2 protein of chromosome 7 (Marcus & Fisher, 2003), it is postulated that the language would, therefore, a specific skill, not dependent on other cognitive activities. Read more

Bookmark and Share

  • About

    Rozenberg Quarterly aims to be a platform for academics, scientists, journalists, authors and artists, in order to offer background information and scholarly reflections that contribute to mutual understanding and dialogue in a seemingly divided world. By offering this platform, the Quarterly wants to be part of the public debate because we believe mutual understanding and the acceptance of diversity are vital conditions for universal progress. Read more...
  • Support

    Rozenberg Quarterly does not receive subsidies or grants of any kind, which is why your financial support in maintaining, expanding and keeping the site running is always welcome. You may donate any amount you wish and all donations go toward maintaining and expanding this website.

    10 euro donation:

    20 euro donation:

    Or donate any amount you like:

    ABN AMRO Bank
    Rozenberg Publishers
    IBAN NL65 ABNA 0566 4783 23
    reference: Rozenberg Quarterly

    If you have any questions or would like more information, please see our About page or contact us:
  • Like us on Facebook

  • Archives