ISSA Proceedings 2002 – On Toulmin’s Fields And Wittgenstein’s Later Views On Logic

logo  2002-11. Toumlin’s Fields: An Interpretative Conundrum
Perhaps one of the most significant contributions to the study of argument and applied epistemology since Aristotle’s Topics was the introduction of the concept of a field of argument. Together with his Data-Warrant-Claim [D-W-C] model of argument, argument fields were Toulmin’s principal theoretical device in the constructive program he launched against the formal model of argument analysis and evaluation. The problem for the contemporary argumentation theorist is: How ought Toulmin’s concept of argument field to be interpreted, operationalized and applied in the projects of argument analysis and evaluation.
Willard has mused that the concept’s “most attractive feature … [is] that it can be made to say virtually anything” (1981: 21). To this, Zarefsky, has, more solemnly, added “there are so many different notions of fields that the result is conceptual confusion” (1982: 191). Before attempting to fathom this interpretive conundrum, it is perhaps best to situate the discussion by observing the significance and function of the concept of field in Toulmin’s overall theory of argument.

1.1 The Field-Dependency Thesis
Certainly, the most significant feature of argument fields is the thesis of field-dependency. Toulmin introduced the concept of field in answer to the question: “How far can justifcatory arguments take one and the same form, or involve appeal to one and the same standards, in all the different kinds of case which we have occasion to consider” (1958: 14)? On Toulmin’s account, there can be no single, abstract model that successfully captures the rational structure of all argument. Instead, while some features of arguments are field-invariant, others vary according to the field to which an argument belongs. For Toulmin, then, the first reason, that fields are significant to the study of argument is that theorists will be unable to create accurate models of argument unless we appreciate the nature, boundaries, and inner structure of argument fields. In fact, by failing to appreciate the field-dependency of certain features of argument, theorists fail to appreciate something fundamental about the very nature of justification.
What, then, is field-dependent? It is perhaps easier to ask what is not field-dependent. Because the structure of the D-W-C model is meant to capture “certain basic similarities of pattern and procedure [which] can be recognized … among justificatory arguments in general” (1958: 17), about the only thing does not vary according to an argument’s field is the overall D-W-C structure itself (1958: 175; 103; 119). By contrast, everything from an argument’s evidence (or data) (1958: 16), to warrants (1958: 100), to its backing (1958: 104) is field-dependent. Further, while the force of certain logical terms (e.g., modal terms and quantifiers) is field-invariant, the criteria according to which these terms are employed is field-dependent (1958: 29-35, 111-112)(i). Read more

ISSA Proceedings ~ Argumentative Moves In An Inquisitive Context About Psychological Harassment In The Workplace: A Case Study In Québec

Abstract: We summarize a recently (2013) completed doctoral research, which analyzed and commented a series of interviews led by four public servants, the mission of which was to ascertain admissibility for further inquiry, of claims of psychological harassment on the workplace by complainants, in Québec province (Canada). We combine with Argumentation and Rhetoric tools and concepts a Conversation Analysis (CA) perspective, showing how meaning obtains in speech acts constructed in interaction.

Keywords: Interviews, psychological harassment, argumentation, conversation analysis, rhetoric, admissibility, speech acts

1. Introduction
This proposal looks at argumentative strategies between complainants and investigators around harassment issues at work. A recently (2013) completed doctoral research analyzed and commented, from an argumentative point of view, a very specific corpus: a series of four interviews, totalizing ten hours, led by four public servants, the mission of which was to ascertain a first recognition of validity for further inquiry, of claims of psychological harassment on the workplace by complainants, in Québec province (Canada). The interviews having taken place in 2006, using a convention taking back accepted notations. One interesting theoretical achievement done in the research is probably to combine a Conversation Analysis (CA) perspective, claiming that meaning obtains in speech acts constructed in interaction, with argumentative figures and cues taken in Aristotle, Perelman, Walton and Van Eemeren.

In the context of a doctoral research in philosophy (Ph.D.), we wanted to study specific discourses that certainly have a rhetorical dimension: claims of psychological harassment presented by plaintiffs and their treatment by investigators. Different conceptual and methodological tools have been used, which are coming from rhetoric, argumentation studies and also from Conversation Analysis (CA). The notions of logos, ethos and pathos were examined and used in the analysis of a corpus of scripts of taped argumentative exchanges, between complainants and investigators; details and conventions utilized are given below. We will start by providing the social and professional context of the study, recall briefly Aristotle’s notions, then look at Perelman’s notion of the audience’s adhesion, with some contributions of Van Eemeren and Walton; we will limit ourselves to specific elements of these theories here. Then the research method used, by reference to CA, will be explained briefly while we will be finishing with the presentation of a few examples illustrating our main results about the rhetorical effects of narrative accounts of psychological harassment in the context of specific investigative interactions.

2. Research context
Our research context was provided by a public organization, the Commission des normes du travail (CNT), which is a Labour Standards Commission having its jurisdiction in Québec, Canada. People who have suffered for different reasons at work, can file complaints in front of that organism for psychological harassment, the complaints are then treated by professionals. Since 2004, it is possible in Québec for a worker (blue or white collar) to file such a complaint, with the aims of putting an end to the problematic situation. The law that clarifies the recourse determines the nature of manifestations that can be associated with psychological harassment; the text refers to notions such as “A vexatious behaviour in the form of repeated conduct, verbal comments, actions or gestures that are hostile or unwanted, that affect the employee’s dignity or psychological or physical integrity and make the work environment harmful”, (L.Q. 2002, c.80). This sentence includes a number of possible situations which resonates with workers who experience different forms of suffering in the workplace. These possible victims can then refer to CNT as a public office, even though the procedure will represent an enormous challenge for people who feel they were or still are being harassed at work. Read more

ISSA Proceedings 2006 – Ehninger’s Argument Violin

Douglas Ehninger’s theoretical gem, “Argument as Method” (1970), introduces us to two unsavory debate characters. First, there is the “neutralist” – an interlocutor who eschews commitment at every turn. Following the Greek philosopher Pyrrho, the neutralist thinks that since nothing can be known, standpoints should float freely, unanchored by the tethers of belief. The neutralist’s counterpart is the “naked persuader” – someone who approaches argument like Plato’s Callicles – clinging doggedly to preconceived beliefs and resisting any shift no matter how compelling the counterpoints (Ehninger 1970, p. 104).

Naked persuaders and neutralists each have difficulty engaging in argument, but for different reasons. According to Ehninger (1970, p. 104), argumentation is a “person risking enterprise,” and by entering into an argument, “a disputant opens the possibility that as a result of the interchange he too may be persuaded of his opponent’s view, or, failing that, at least may be forced to make major alterations in his own.” In this account, naked persuaders are hamstrung by their unwillingness to risk the possibility that the force of reason will prompt alteration of their views. Neutralists, on the other hand, prevent the “person risking enterprise” from ever getting off the ground in the first place, since they place nothing on the table to risk.

Ehninger’s unsavory characters illustrate how the concept of standpoint commitment has salience in any theory of “argument as process” (Wenzel 1990). To reap the full benefits of the process of argumentation, interlocutors must adopt stances vis-à-vis their standpoints that strike an appropriate balance between perspectives of the naked persuader and the neutralist. For Ehninger (1970, p. 104), such a balanced posture consists of “restrained partisanship,” where advocates drive dialectic forward with tentative conviction, while remaining open to the possibility that the course of argument may dictate that their initial standpoints require amendment or retraction. Finding this delicate balance resembles the tuning of violin strings – a metaphor that underscores his point that the proper stance of restrained partisanship must be tailored to fit each situation.

The public argument prior to the 2003 Iraq War offers a clear example of a poorly tuned deliberative exchange. While several official investigations (e.g. US Commission 2005; US Senate 2004) have explained the breakdown in prewar decision-making as a case of faulty data driving bad policy, this paper explores how the technical concept of foreign policy “intelligence failure” (Matthias 2001) can be expanded to offer a more fine-grained explanation for the ill-fated war decision, which stemmed in part from a failure of the argumentative process in public spheres of deliberation. Part one revisits Ehninger’s concept of standpoint commitment, framing it in light of related argumentation theories that address similar aspects of the argumentative process. This discussion paves the way for a case study of public argument concerning the run-up to the 2003 Iraq War. Finally, possible implications of the case study for foreign policy rhetoric and argumentation theory are considered. Read more

ISSA Proceedings 2002 – Table of Contents

Table of Contents ISSA Proceedings 2002 – work in progress

Frans H. van Eemeren, J. Anthony Blair, Charles A. Willard (eds.) – Preface
Alan W. Aldrich – Considering Culture In The Analysis Of Arguments
R. P. Alford – Leff’s Account Of The Aristotelian Roots Of The Boethian Theory Of Dialectical Reasoning: A Contemporary Reconsideration
Ruth Amossy – The Argumentative Dimension Of Discourse
Richard Andrews – Argumentation In Education: Issues Arising From Undergraduate Students’ Work
Constantin Antonopoulos – On The Use And Misuse Of Analyticity In Arguments
Satoru Aonuma – The Constitution, Critical Rhetoric, And Public Argument: The Case Of Democratic Japan
Peter D. Asquith – Cases – Their Role In Informal Logic
Albert Atkin & John E. Richardson – Constructing The (Imagined) Antagonist In Advertising Argumentation
Txetxu Ausín & Lorenzo Peña – Arguing From Facts To Duties (And Conversely)
Kevin T. Baaske & Patricia Riley – In Defense Of The Realm: Administrative Responses To Anti-Globalization Argumentation
Michael Baker, Matthieu Quignard, Kristine Lund – UMR 5612 GRIC, Groupe de Recherches sur les Interactions Communicatives, Équipe Interaction & Cognition, C.N.R.S. & Université Lumière Lyon 2 & Marije van Amelsvoort – Department of Educational Sciences, Utrecht University – Designing – A Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning Situation For Broadening And Deepening Understanding Of The Space Of Debate
Susan Balter-Reitz – She Blinded Me With Science: Material Argument In The Indianapolis Children’s Museum
Gregory Bassham  – Linked And Independent Premises: A New Analysis
Shawn Batt – The National Education Reform Debate And The Rhetoric Of The Contrarians
Sandra Bégoin-Augereau & Josiane Caron-Pargue  – Linguistic Criteria For Demarcation And Hierarchical Organization Of Episodes In A Problem Solving Task
Hilde van Belle – Two Ways Of Analysing A ‘Light Mix’ Newspaper Article
Keith Berry –  Cut-Ups, Slams And Jabs: Verbal Aggressiveness Or Politeness?
Stefano Bertea – Legal Argumentation Theory And The Concept Of Law
Barbara A. Biesecker – Technologies Of Truth And National Trauma:  Revisiting The Enola Gay Controversy
Frans A.J. Birrer – Expert Advice And Discourse Coupling: Context-Dependent Valdation Of Model-Based Reasoning
V. William Balthrop & Carole Blair – – Discursive Collisions: A Reading Of  “Ellen’s Energy Adventure”
J. Anthony Blair – The Relationships Among Logic, Dialectic And Rhetoric
George Boger – Formal Logic’s Contribution To The Study Of Fallacies
Lilit Brutian – On The Pragmatics Of Argumentative Discourse
Andrew J. Burgess – Religious Argument As Enthymeme: Aristotle, Paul, And Anselm
Ann E. Burnette & Wayne L. Kraemer – Making The Case For War: Bush’s Rhetorical Validation Of America’s Action

Read more Read more

Indigenous Organizers In Alaska Lead The Way Toward Livable Climate Future

Ruth Łchav’aya K’isen Miller

In the United States, the public and politicians are moving in opposite directions on climate change. Grassroots environmental activism is spreading on the local state, regional and national levels, while Congress generally continues with a “business-as-usual” approach, rejecting the foremost way to avoid the worst consequences of global warming: the Green New Deal.

While the Green New Deal remains aspirational in the U.S., it has been adopted by the European Union, and scores of countries around the world have committed to pursuing its goals.

Among the many organizations in the U.S. fighting for environmental sustainability and a just transition toward clean, renewable energy is Native Movement, an organization dedicated to building people power for transformative change and imagining a world without fossil fuels.

“There is no future at all with continued oil and gas extraction,” says Ruth Łchav’aya K’isen Miller, Native Movement’s climate justice director, in this exclusive interview for Truthout. “We must eliminate fossil fuel extraction now through a just transition that guarantees justice for workers and for the lands.”

Miller is a Dena’ina Athabascan and Ashkenazi Jewish woman. She works toward Indigenous rights advocacy and is a member of the Alaska Just Transition Collective and the Alaska Climate Alliance.

C.J. Polychroniou: Ruth, what does a just transition, from a Native and Indigenous perspective, look like in Alaska?

Ruth Miller: A just transition is a journey of returning to economies, governance structures and social contracts that are not new, but built on Indigenous wisdoms and place-based knowledge to create a truly regenerative economy. A just transition will be built on a values framework of anti-racism and decolonization, deep reciprocity, and respect for all lands, waters and air.

Any just transition for Alaska must be rooted in Indigenous perspectives, because it is Alaska’s Native nations who have lived in harmony with these lands for over 30,000 years, and whose deep connections, encyclopedic knowledge and spiritual interconnectivity will heal the wounds of the past 100 years of colonization and extractive capitalism. For this reason, we refer to this shift in resource extraction, governance, labor practices and culture as “remembering forward,” first translated in 2020 in the Behnti Kengaga language as “Kohtr’elneyh,” and in 2022 in the Dena’ina language as “Nughelnik.”

In Alaska this takes many forms. It includes deep democracy, which actively seeks to incorporate minority voices as well as those in the majority and requires the diversification of elected leaders. It includes an end to all oil and gas extraction, as well as irresponsible mining and other development projects. It means a return to responsible land management practices, including timber and fisheries management, and it means returning stewardship of lands and waters back to their original and eternal caretakers. It includes supporting Alaska Native language and cultural revitalizations while supporting unimpeachable subsistence hunting and fishing rights. It means all workers will have their fair pay and rights protected through strong unions, while communities will be empowered to support themselves through mutual aid networks and non-predatory community loan funds for moving toward clean and efficient energy.

A just transition for Alaska means investing in regenerative industries like sustainable mariculture and ocean-healing crops such as kelp, while also supporting culturally informed eco-tourism that elevates local business with local returns. As we have previously written for Non-Profit Quarterly, “To achieve [a Just Transition], resources must be acquired through regenerative practices, labor must be organized through voluntary cooperation and decolonial mindsets, culture must be based on caring and sacred relationships, and governance must reflect deep democracy and relocalization.”

Why is the complete elimination of fossil fuel extraction needed to secure a just transition?

The simple truth is that the oil and gas industry is one of the largest contributors to climate change, spewing greenhouse gas emissions to the point at which we are now in the sixth great extinction — one which has been entirely caused by recent human activity. The Arctic, being bled dry for its non-renewable resources, is now experiencing a climate crisis at two to four times the rate as the rest of the globe.

In Alaska, thawing permafrost is not only destabilizing Arctic infrastructure, but the thawing of eons-old organic material leads to the accelerated release of methane, a gas more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. The same thawing is leading to coastal and riverbed erosion, causing more and more communities to be forced to relocate. Already less Arctic sea ice returns in the winter than past generations remember, putting coastal communities at increased risk of damage by winter storms.

With a global temperature rise of 2.5 degrees Celsius or higher (which we are projected to reach within the decade without drastic international action now), it is expected we will have an entirely ice-free Arctic Ocean at least once every eight years. Beyond their climate effects, extractive projects are already causing extreme and irreversible devastation to lands, waters and food systems.

The ecological harm caused by such projects leaves toxic waste, pollution and contamination, harming the health of Alaska Native peoples who live closest with the land. Near the sites of extractive projects, high rates of cancers, birth defects, respiratory illnesses, and more health impacts have been observed for decades. Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit relatives suffer increased rates of homicide, disappearance and domestic violence in and around the man camps that supply labor to extractive development projects.

There is no future at all with continued oil and gas extraction…. We must eliminate fossil fuel extraction now through a just transition that guarantees justice for workers and for the lands. Read more

Stopping The War In Ukraine Now Is The Only Option

Willem de Haan

It might not be ‘cool’ to lay down weapons now, but it would mean the end of senseless violence and prevent the annihilation of Ukraine.

Reuters estimates that, after three weeks of war, 14,000 people have been killed, 2,7 million people have fled, 1,700 buildings have been destroyed and damages exceed 110 billion euro. The trauma that will result from what is happening in Ukraine will last decades.

Defense budgets all over Europe are being increased and relationships with Russia will be disrupted for years to come.

Whenever there is fighting, we seem to be grabbed by a hunger for war: Nuances disappear and a choice must be made between good and evil. The complex reality doesn’t matter anymore, nor do the reasons for the conflict.

Language as a weapon
Language also becomes a weapon in times of war: “Those who do not support us militarily, want us to slowly die”, says Zelensky. It may sound logic, but it’s not true – nobody wants the Ukrainian people to slowly die.
The appeal is clear, however. If you care about us, you support us with weapons, whatever it takes. The Netherlands is also understanding of Zelensky’s call for Polish fighter jets and Finland’s wish to become a member of NATO. Both would be an extremely dangerous escalation.
Ukraine did not start this war, but every day Zelensky chooses to continue this inequal battle, he also bears responsibility for the death toll, the refugees and the destruction of his country.

A high price to pay
Continuing to fight maybe cool, but the people of Ukraine and soldiers on both sides are paying a terrible price. Putting weapons down might not be cool, but it would end the senseless violence and prevent the annihilation of Ukraine.

Even if it would cost him his life, ending the war would make Zelensky immortal, a true hero. Defending your country sounds noble, but what if the price is a completely destroyed country? With tens of thousands more dead and millions of refugees?

A report from the NOS Journaal (Dutch news report) sticks with me. A captured Russian soldier being interrogated somewhere in Ukraine. “How old are you?” Answer: 21 years old. “Where are you from?” From St Petersburg. “What are you doing here?” I was sent here. “What do you want?” I want to go home.
According to the voice-over the young man was later executed. Refusing to perform military service is incredibly difficult in both Russia and Ukraine. Soldiers do not have a choice, political leaders do. As Bob Dylan wrote in his song Masters of War in 1963: ‘You put a gun in my hand / And you hide from my eyes.’

Peaceful protest
War is terrible and the next violent outbursts are already announcing themselves: Moldavia, Georgia, the Baltic States, Taiwan. Will we push the world closer to the brink of war? I prefer to draw hope from the peaceful protest Gandhi used against the British rule in India, the kind that Martin Luther King used to end segregation in the United States, how mass protests around the world helped end the war in Vietnam and how peaceful protest from the East Germans brought down the Berlin Wall in 1989.

According to War Resisters’ International (WRI), an organization founded in 1921 to promote peace and antimilitarism, over 1,1 million Russians have signed a petition against the war started by Russian human rights activist Lev Ponomarev.
Yurii Sheliazhenko of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement called for peaceful protest three days after the start of the war, where most people only see military solutions. He considers a neutral Ukraine the best option for the future.

The only option
They know that violence only begets violence, history is full of it. Pacifism is not a popular concept in times of war, but among the people who believed in it and practiced it were Jesus of Nazareth and Albert Einstein, John Lennon and Mother Theresa. Call them idealists, but the world would be a far worse place without them.

Stopping the war now is the only option. Does that mean Putin gets his way? No. If he wants to occupy all of Ukraine and succeeds, he inherits a country of 44 million dissidents. Even for a dictator, that is a nightmare.

Willem de Haan is a Dutch sociologist, conscientious objector and journalist. Go to:

Original published in Leeuwarder Courant (Dutch daily), 03.19.2022
Translation: Sunny Resch

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