ISSA Proceedings 2002 – A Normative And Empirical Approach To Petty And Cacioppo’s ‘Strong’ And ‘Weak’ Arguments

logo  2002-1What makes a persuasive message persuasive? According to the Elaboration Likelihood Model (Petty & Cacioppo 1986), argument quality plays an important role in the answer to this question. The present study takes a close look at this factor. First, background information will be given about the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM). Subsequently, the role of argument quality in the ELM will be discussed.  After that, the results will be presented of a normative and empirical study of Petty and Cacioppo’s research material containing strong and weak arguments. These results will provide insight into the role of argument quality in the persuasion process [i].

1. Petty & Cacioppo’s Elaboration Likelihood Model
According to the Elaboration Likelihood Model, people can be persuaded into adopting a claim by walking two different routes. The first route is called the central route. At this route, people systematically examine the quality of the given arguments. If they agree with these arguments, they adopt the claim. If they disagree with the arguments, they reject the claim. The second route is called the peripheral route. At this route, people are persuaded by peripheral cues. Peripheral cues are all non-argumentative features of a message that are capable of influencing the formation or change of the receiver’s attitude. Commonly used peripheral cues are rules of thumb, such as ‘If this authority says so, it must be true’ or ‘If hundreds of people used this product before me, it must be a good product.’
Which route is being taken is determined by two factors: motivation and ability. Motivation is about wanting to process the persuasive message. If people want to be very sure of the correctness of their attitude, they will be very motivated to examine the given arguments carefully. So, for example, motivation is higher when a house is to be bought than a detergent. The second factor is about being able to process the message. The easier it is for people to examine the given arguments, the quicker they will perform this task. Motivation as well as ability is required in order to follow the central route. If these conditions are not met, the peripheral route will be taken. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2002 – Mobile Argument: An Investigation Of Bumper Stickers In The United States

logo  2002-1What does an argument look like and how does one define argument? At first glance, these two questions appear manageable. Arguments after all, are what occur around the family dinner table or between politicians on the floor of Congress. In today’s rapidly changing environment, however, the look of an argument and how one defines this particular rhetorical device is not so clean-cut. In the United States, for example, the average citizen is bombarded every day with a healthy diet of mediated messages ranging from television advertisements to the Internet. Conversations (and instances of argument) have even gone virtual with a number of Americans maintaining their relationships in a virtual environment.
Given the complexity of how we find information and ultimately engage in argument, this paper explores one dimension of argument: the automobile bumper sticker. This paper suggests that Americans use bumper stickers to put forth arguments that otherwise would go unheard or noticed by others. Bumper stickers represent a medium available to any automobile owner who wishes to have his/her voice heard.  To demonstrate this phenomenon, we illustrate the point with the “most pro-life car in the U.S.A”, according to its owner, Pirate Pete. Furthermore, we draw distinctions between verbal arguments and visual arguments and contend that this particular vehicle is both argumentative and a moving piece of art. We begin with a review of the literature surrounding both verbal and visual argument, as well as previous scholarship on bumper stickers as a communicative form. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2002 – I Don’t Have Anything To Prove Here – The (Un)Reasonableness Of Evading The Burden Of Proof

logo  2002-11. Those who affirm must prove
Critical decision making, be it about future plans and policies or facts and theories often takes place in the context of on argumentative discussion in which two parties try to reach a decision. In the pragma-dialectical argumentation theory, the various moves made in argumentative discourse are seen as part of critical discussion aimed ad resolving a difference of opinion concerning the acceptability of a claim or standpoint. The moves made by the parties involved, are regarded reasonable only if these are a contribution to the resolution of the difference. In an ideal model of a critical discussion the rules are specified that an exchange of discussion moves has to comply with to further the resolution. The soundness of the pragma-dialectical rules is based on their problem validity: the fact that they are instrumental in resolving a conflict. To resolve a difference of opinion however, the rules must also be acceptable to the parties involved. That means they should be intersubjectively approved.
That is why it is important to know what ordinary language users think of discussion moves that are deemed fallacious by the pragma-dialectical theory. In a comprehensive research project, we systematically try to find out if the theoretical norms are in accordance with the norms ordinary language (claim to) apply when judging argumentation. In this paper we would like to present the results of a study on the rule concerning the burden of proof.
In everyday discussions many things can go wrong. Some discussions hardly start, and others derail totally. Sometimes it goes wrong before the arguers put forward only one argument. For example, when one participant openly tries to disqualify his opponent by calling him stupid, untrustworthy or biased. An early obstruction of a discussion is also possible when the opponents cannot decide who has to defend his of her position. In principle the rule that ever since antiquity is supposed to be valid is pretty clear: who asserts must prove.
By virtue of this rule, the party who puts forward a standpoint has to defend that standpoint by means of argumentation. In spite of the relative simplicity of the rule, in practice all kinds of things can go wrong with the distribution of the burden of proof. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2002 – A Pracmatic View Of The Burden Of Proof

logo  2002-11. A dialectical profile of the division of the burden of proof
In an earlier paper, entitled ‘Strategic maneuvering with the burden of proof,’ we have explained our dialectical perspective on the division of the burden of proof in a critical discussion (van Eemeren and Houtlosser, 2002). We did so by answering a series of interrelated questions from a procedural view of critical reasonableness: Why is there a burden of proof? A burden of proof for what? For whom? What exactly does the burden of proof involve? When is it activated? What means can be used to acquit oneself of the burden of proof? And when is one discharged? Because our responses were given in a critical rationalist vein, they are attuned to resolving a difference of opinion by critically testing the acceptability of a standpoint in the most systematic, thorough, perspicuous, and economic way. In the present paper we aim to complement this approach by offering a pragmatic solution for an important problem that may arise in ‘mixed’ disputes, where opposite standpoints are put forward regarding the same issue. The problem concerns the order in which the opposing standpoints are to be defended.

Making use of an analytic tool provided by Walton and Krabbe (1995), we describe the interactional situation in which our problem arises with the help of a dialectical profile. This profile specifies the moves that are admissible when dividing the burden of proof in a mixed dispute in the opening stage of a critical discussion. The profile starts from the situation that a mixed dispute has come into being in the confrontation stage between two parties. The profile includes both possibilities: the one in which the party that has advanced a positive standpoint is challenged first to defend this positive standpoint and the one in which the party that has advanced a negative standpoint is challenged first to defend this negative standpoint. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2002 – Fallacies As Derailments Of Strategic Maneuvering: The Argumentum Ad Verecundiam, A Case In Point

logo  2002-11. The current state of the art in fallacy theory
As we all know, in 1970 Hamblin sketched a devastating portrait of the state of the art in fallacy theory. Since then, several new and constructive approaches have developed. In all these approaches, the fallacies are – more generally – viewed as “wrong moves in argumentative discourse” rather than as “arguments that seem valid but are in fact not” (see van Eemeren, 2001). Such a new approach is not only taken by Hamblin (1970) himself, but also by Woods and Walton (1989), Barth and Krabbe (1982), van Eemeren and Grootendorst (1984, 1992a), Walton (1987, 1992, 1995), Johnson (2000), Jacobs (2002), and many others. Although one can safely claim that Hamblin’s criticisms no longer apply to the present state of the art in fallacy theory, a fully satisfactory theory of the fallacies is still lacking. If only because the intriguing problem of the remarkable persuasiveness of (at least some of) the fallacies, which was in the traditional definition of a fallacy indicated by the word “seem,” has been completely ignored. In this paper, we shall argue that taking rhetorical considerations into account in a dialectical approach of the fallacies can lead to a better and more complete understanding of how a great many of the fallacies “work.”

2. Ad hoc theoretical treatments of the fallacies
A major disadvantage of various modern theoretical treatments of the fallacies is that they are, in more than one sense, ad hoc. This is so in the first place when they take the traditional list of the fallacies as it is handed down by history and recorded in the literature as their point of departure. Several informal logicians, and most notably Walton, tend to do so. The traditional list, however, is – in spite of Woods’ (1992) protestations –, instead of a systematic and theoretically motivated catalogue of the fallacies, a more or less arbitrary collection of the diverse kinds of argumentative moves that have been recognized as fallacious in the past. The older work of Woods and Walton (1989) is a good illustration of how this kind of label-oriented approach leads to an entirely different theoretical treatment of each individual fallacy. Such a treatment of the fallacies is therefore also ad hoc in a second sense. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2002 – Responding To Multiculturalism In The Real World: Re-Envisioning Argumentation Pedagogy To Include Culturally Diverse Methods Of Argumentation

logo  2002-1Recent pedagogical trends in American universities emphasize teaching students “real world” critical thinking skills. Traditional argumentation courses are often perceived as a particularly good venue for teaching critical thinking, (Sanders, Wiseman, and Grass, 1994). This seems to be recognized by administrators at many America colleges and universities as Winkler and Chesier (2000) suggest that university administration “support for argumentation courses has profited from recent nation-wide moves to expand instruction in critical thinking” (102). Traditional argumentation courses are often designed to cultivate reasoning, analytical, evaluative, research, thinking, and, of course, argumentative skills that hopefully extend beyond the classroom and benefit students in academic, professional, political, and personal venues.
Yet, we should consider whether argumentation pedagogy truly fosters critical thinking in a multicultural nation and world. Not only are universities becoming increasingly more culturally diverse, but also contact with people from other cultures is more likely nationally and internationally. Courses in argumentation often teach students the skills to engage in reasoned debate emphasizing certain element of the western tradition of rhetoric and argumentation. Traditional argumentation pedagogy focuses on “rational” inductive or deductive argumentation, analysis of arguments and fallacies, and the pursuit of truth. Mastery of these skills is usually evaluated with formal graded debates with a winner, a loser, and the “best” policy or value. These methods may no longer be appropriate preparation for students’ real world interactions because they neither simulates realistic intercultural interactions nor crosses cultural boundaries both within and outside the United States. If students are taught one method of argumentation and critical thinking that is specific to dominant western culture, valued over alternate ways of arguing and linked to simulated debates that do not accurately reflect deliberation in the real world, can we say that they are prepared to engage in discussion, debate, and argumentation in intercultural settings? Responding to cultural diversity requires rethinking traditional argumentation pedagogy to reflect skills and values necessary for the “real” multicultural world, both inside and outside the classroom. Read more

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