ISSA Proceedings 2014 – Dialectical Reasoning In Critical Social Analysis And Critical Discourse Analysis

Abstract: Methods of critical social analysis can be understood as deliberative dialectical reasoning whose main argument type is practical argumentation, with explanation embedded. How then does dialectical argumentation fit into critical method overall? I address this issue in terms of the relationship between dialectical argumentation and other facets of dialectic identified within Hegelian-Marxist dialectics, questioning the assumption in argumentation studies that the two are not connected.

Key words: critical method, deliberation, dialectic, explanation, practical argumentation

1. Introduction
In Fairclough & Fairclough (2012) I argued that critical discourse analysis (CDA) needs to incorporate analysis and evaluation of argumentation because political discourse – a focus for CDA – is primarily practical argumentation and deliberation. I also argued that critical social analysis more generally needs to do the same in order to go beyond just claiming that discourse may contingently have constructive effects on social reality, to showing how: discourses provide reasons for/against acting in certain ways, and they may have constructive effects in so far as practical arguments stand up to critical evaluation, and lead to decisions, which lead to action, which has transformative effects on reality.

In Fairclough (2013), I also suggested that critical social analysis, including CDA, is itself (self-evidently) a form of discourse, and that it is centrally a form of practical argumentation. Thus (practical) argumentation and its analysis and evaluation are relevant in two ways to critical analysis of political discourse: as a primary feature of the discourse being analysed, and of the discourse – and method – of critical analysis. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2014 – How To Blame In A Democracy?

Abstract: This paper challenges the view according to which speeches of praise and speeches of blame perform a similar political function of gathering citizens (around a hero in the case of praise and against a scapegoat in the case of blame). It is argued that the idea, seldom challenged in literature on epideictic rhetoric, that blame is merely a reverse mirror of praise, is due to an overemphasis on logos.

Keywords: artistic proofs, blame, catharsis, epideictic, homeostasis, homonoia, praise, rhetoric, violence

1. Introduction
To introduce my topic, I would like first to present George Kennedy main hypothesis in his book Comparative Rhetoric (1998). George Kennedy argued that the primary function of rhetoric in human societies is the preservation of existing social order. As he puts it: “The major function of rhetoric throughout the most of human history has been to preserve things as they are or to try to recover an idealized happier past” (1998, p. 216).

The history of research on argumentation and reasoning can be described as a struggle against such a natural tendency to conservatism. This history began with sophistic exercises such as dissoi logoi (twofold arguments)[i] and, later, with Aristotle’s studies on the various ways one can attack someone else’s arguments, the identification of fallacious arguments and the definition of rules for rational discussion[ii].

In this quest for tools to correct our reasoning biases, the status of epideictic rhetoric has always been disturbing. Epideictic speeches, with their depiction of a world clearly organized between the good people, ‘us’, and the bad people, ‘them’, appear as a revival of the naïve first steps of our humanity. One might thus understand why argumentation studies did not pay much attention to epideictic rhetoric: epideictic rhetoric appears to be nothing but what all of us spontaneously do when we stop struggling against our natural tendency to conservatism. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2014 – The Role Of Pragmatic Argumentation Referring To Consequences, Goals And Values In The Justification Of Judicial Decisions

Abstract: In this contribution I discuss the role of pragmatic argumentation referring to consequences, goals and values in complex structures of legal justification. From a pragma-dialectical perspective I describe the stereotypical patterns of legal justification in hard cases and specify the different ways in which these stereotypical patterns can be implemented in different contexts in which judges give a decision that they justify by referring to consequences, goals and values.

Keywords: argumentation, argumentation from consequences, goal argumentation, legal argumentation, legal values, justification of legal decisions, pragmatic argumentation, pragma-dialectics.

1. Introduction
In the justification of their decisions it is not uncommon for courts to use pragmatic argumentation in which they refer to the consequences of applying a legal rule in a specific case. In a ‘hard case’ in which the applicability of the rule is controversial, courts may argue that the consequences of applying the rule in the standard meaning would be ‘absurd’ in light of the purpose of the rule. An example of the use of pragmatic argumentation referring to undesirable or ‘absurd’ consequences in such a hard case can be found in the decision from the US Supreme Court in the famous case of Holy Trinity Church v. US (143 U.S. 457) from February 29, 1892.[i] In this case the Supreme Court had to decide whether or not the act prohibiting the importation of foreigners and aliens under contract to ‘perform labour’ in the United States (chapter 164, 23 St. p. 332) was applicable to an English Christian minister who had come to the United States to enter into service of the Protestant Episcopal Holy Trinity Church in the city of New York as rector and pastor. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2014 – Ubiquity, Ambiguity, And Metarationality: Searching For The Fallacy Of Composition

Abstract: “Ubiquity” is the hypothesis that fallacies of composition are ubiquitous; “ambiguity” the hypothesis that “fallacy of composition” has at least three distinct meanings, often confused; and “metarationality” the hypothesis that the best places to search for fallacies of composition are meta-arguments whose conclusions attribute this fallacy to ground-level arguments. While testing these working hypotheses, I have found some historically important cases, for example, a step in the theological argument from design, as critiqued by Hume.

Keywords: argument of composition, composition, compositional argument, design argument, fallacy of composition, Hume, meta-argumentation, metarationality, parts vs. whole

1. Introduction
There are both theoretical and practical motivations for wanting to study the fallacy of composition.

From a theoretical point of view, such a study is a special case of a key and well-established branch of logic and argumentation theory. In fact, with some slight but not much exaggeration, one could reconstruct the past fifty years of this field largely as a series of footnotes to Hamblin’s Fallacies (1970), and/or as a series of developments that culminate organically with Woods’s Errors of Reasoning (2013). And, as we shall see, the fallacy of composition is special not only in the sense of being a specific case of fallacies, but also in the sense of being especially important. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2014 – On The Persuasive Power Of The Best Explanation Argument

Abstract: Scientific realists claim that scientific realism must be accepted because it is the best explanation of the success of science. But arguments to the best explanation are objectionable. We explore the possibility that the greater or lesser resistance to those inferences depends on differences about the persuasion criteria that correspond to each context: participants of philosophical discussions usually apply stricter criteria than the ones considered to be persuasive in other kinds of argumentation.

Keywords: argument to the best explanantion, non-miracle argument, scientific realism.

1. Introduction
This paper focuses on the inference to the best explanation (IBE) as a kind of argumentation in philosophy of science. Several scientific realists argue that scientific realism is the best explanation for the success of science. But serious objections have been raised against IBE. Given the controversy generated by the IBE argument, this paper explores the possibility of the fact that the degree of resistance to accepting the inference to the best explanation depends on differences which are related to the persuasion criteria that corresponds to each context. We distinguish four different contexts in which IBE is used:

a) the common sense knowledge context;
b) the scientific research context;
c) the philosophy of science context: when talking about scientific theories some philosophers contend that the truth of a theory and the existence of the unobservable entities it posits are the best explanation of its success;
d) the philosophy of science context again, but in a higher level: when some philosophers argue that scientific realism is true because it explains the success of science better than the antirealist claims. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2014 – The Strategic Function Of Argumentative Moves In Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Reports

Abstract: A CSR report may be viewed as part of a virtual critical discussion in which the company acts as a protagonist claiming that their behaviour is responsible towards society. Social actors may be represented as virtual antagonists in the critical discussion who (virtually) doubt or critique this standpoint. This paper presents several argumentative moves used in CSR reports to build a better image of the business and persuade various audiences that the company acts responsibly towards society.

Keywords: adjudication, appeal to emotions, argumentation, argumentative move, audience demand, critical discussion, CSR report, organizational rhetoric, pragma-dialectic approach, strategic maneuvering.

1. Introduction
CSR is defined as the attitude companies adopt towards society, consisting in responsible business practice. CSR discourse has become lately a strategic issue for companies and their marketing operations. The methodological framework of this study is the pragma-dialectical approach to argumentation. In this framework, businesses and other social actors are represented as parties in a difference of opinion. CSR discourse may thus be viewed as a fragment of a virtual critical discussion in which the company acts as a protagonist and claims that their corporate business behaviour is responsible. Other social actors may be represented as virtual antagonist(s) who doubting or critique this standpoint. They may be held as having not agreed to the main standpoint at issue.

This study identifies several argumentative moves used in CSR reports to help the company prove to stakeholders and to the public opinion that the company acts responsibly towards society. Read more

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