ISSA Proceedings 2006 – Virtue Argumentation

1. Virtue in ethics
After centuries of obscurity, the study of the virtues is now one of the most prominent methodologies in ethics. Proponents of this so-called ‘aretaic turn’ differ substantially in the details of their respective proposals, but they tend to see a renewed focus on ethical virtues as a fresh source of insight into problems which have deadlocked more familiar approaches, such as Kantianism or utilitarianism. Moreover, virtue ethics has an immediacy to everyday human interests which its competitors have often been criticized as lacking. Yet, despite its fashionability, the roots of virtue ethics go back much further than those of its modern rivals.
An emphasis on virtue, or aretê, was characteristic of Ancient Greek thought from the time of Homer, if not earlier. Both Socrates and Plato could be said to have virtue theories, and the latter is responsible for the so-called Cardinal Virtues, of courage, temperance, wisdom (or prudence), and justice (Protagoras 330b). This list was subsequently incorporated into the Christian tradition by the successive authority of Saints Ambrose, Augustine of Hippo, and Thomas Aquinas. However the principal theorist of virtue in (Western) philosophy is Aristotle. Both of his major ethical works defend an account of the good life as an activity in accordance with our highest virtues. He catalogues many different ethical virtues. His earlier Eudemian Ethics (1220b-1221a) lists gentleness; courage; modesty; temperance; righteous indignation; the just; liberality; sincerity; friendliness; dignity; hardiness; greatness of spirit; magnificence; and wisdom. A similar list may be found in the later Nicomachean Ethics (1107a).
A distinctive feature of Aristotle’s approach is his ‘doctrine of the mean’: the thesis that each virtue represents the right degree of some property, of which either an excess or deficit would constitute vice. Hence every virtue is situated between a pair of opposite vices. For example, gentleness is the mean of irascibility and spiritlessness, and courage that of rashness and cowardice. This doctrine provides a plausible analysis of at least some familiar virtues, but few if any modern virtue theorists endorse it wholeheartedly. Nevertheless, the doctrine of the mean has a substantial intellectual legacy. In particular, since the good agent must be able to know what the mean is in any specific case, the doctrine obliged Aristotle to develop his ethics in an epistemological direction with the introduction of intellectual virtues. These include knowledge, art, prudence, intuition, wisdom, resourcefulness, and understanding (Nicomachean Ethics, Book VI). Chief amongst them is prudence, the traditional translation of phronesis, which might better be rendered as practical wisdom, or common sense. For Aristotle this is a disposition to deliberate well, that is, so as to arrive at a course of action which brings about the good. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2006 – An Analysis Of Argument In George Washington’s Newburgh Address: “Address To The Officers Of The Army,” March 15, 1783

logo  2006George Washington’s “Newburgh Address” ranks among the most consequential speeches given during the Revolutionary War and it is certainly one of the most famous addresses delivered by America’s first president. The speech often receives passing mention in rhetorical histories of the early nation, but scant attention has been paid to it by scholars of communication. My interest in the address is based both on its rhetorical-historical import and on the location in which it was given. Newburgh, New York is the city in which I live, so I hope to explicate the argumentative dimensions of this famous speech that was conceived and delivered in my own back yard.

Newburgh is the location of Washington’s Winter Headquarters, of the Last Encampment of the Continental Army, and of the New Windsor Cantonment. It is located on the Hudson River, about 15 miles north of West Point and 55 miles north of New York City. Because of its unique geographic properties, it was a heavily fortified area during the Revolutionary War. Washington spent the last years of the war in Newburgh, composed this address at his headquarters there, and delivered it just a few miles down the road at the Army cantonment.
The address effectively forestalled a mutiny that might have ended all hope for American independence just as the peace treaty with Great Britain was being negotiated and signed.
Examination of the conspiracy and Washington’s address allows for a better understanding of just how fragile the notion of effective American self-governance really was and how tenuous were principles of nationalism that we take almost for granted today.

1. Background to the Speech
In the fall of 1782, peace talks were underway in Paris and, with the Revolutionary war nearly ended, there was a fair amount of apprehension that Congress would disband the Continental Army without adequately compensating either officers or common soldiers. (Some had not been paid for years.) The soldiers had been disaffected for some time, and, by the time the Army cantoned near Newburgh for the winter, there were widespread desertions, hangings in effigy, and other symptoms of discontent. Regular soldiers had heretofore been the trouble- makers, but now Army officers, upon whom Washington counted to keep order among the troops, had also become restive. On at least seven occasions the Commander in Chief warned civilian authorities that his officers were disgruntled, writing that the patience of these men was “soured by penury and… the ingratitude of the Public” (in Ferling, p. 309). Just after Christmas, the officers acted. They sent a memorial to Congress, written by General John Knox, which detailed their grievances over pay and suggested that they wished to renegotiate the terms of their future compensation. “We have borne all that men can bear – our property is expended – our private resources are at an end, and our friends are wearied out and disgusted with our incessant applications,” they pleaded (in Worthington, pp. 291-293). The officers had in 1780 been promised pensions – half-pay for life – but now, realizing that they stood little chance of ever collecting, they pressed Congress for a commutation that would afford them an equivalent lump-sum payment at the conclusion of the war (Kohn, 1970, p. 189).

The nationalists in Congress-led chiefly by Alexander Hamilton and the Morrises – Robert and Gouverneur – realized that they might use the threat of unrest within the Army to augment the powers of the national government. Congress debated and rejected payment plans for the Army in the first two months of 1783 and, by late February, the nationalists had devised a plan to further pressure the government. The Newburgh conspiracy was hatched. They would encourage, if not incite, further discontent and even disorder among Army officers, use evidence of that unrest to manipulate Congress, and forewarn Washington of at least a part of their scheme, counting on his ability to control his men.

Hamilton wrote to Washington in late February, telling him that the country would be bankrupt by June. There would be no more money to fight the British or to pay officers’ pensions, if peace had been achieved by then. Hamilton decried the lack of “wisdom and decision” in Congress and suggested that if the Army again petitioned about payment, such an action might sway “those weak minds which are influenced by their apprehensions more than their judgments.” Hamilton cautioned Washington that the danger in such a maneuver was “to keep a complaining and suffering army within the bounds of moderation.” Washington should see that “prudent persons” handled the petitioning and could, if things turned ugly, “bring order perhaps even good, out of confusion” (in Syrett, 3: pp. 253-255). Washington did not rise to the bait, but only affirmed the right of his officers to just compensation and continued to pressure Congress himself on their behalf. He warned those meeting in Philadelphia that he would remain in Newburgh and “Try like a careful physician to prevent if possible the disorders getting to an incurable height” (in Fitzpatrick, 25: p. 270).
The conspirators contacted several high-ranking officers who were headquartered in Newburgh with Washington, among them General Knox (to whom they anticipated that the Commander would turn for counsel), and General Gates, second in command after Washington and one of his few antagonists. Gates was highly popular with young, middle-grade officers and it was within the ranks of these men that the conspiracy gained a life of its own. Major John Armstrong, a former aide to Gates, wrote the words that nearly caused the officers to mutiny (Wright, p. 178). Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2006 – Fallacies And Context-Dependence: Considering The Strategic Maneuvering Approach

1. Introduction
Context considerations are germane to the evaluation of argumentative discourse: ‘fallacies’ are not something one is able to identify in vacuo. In order to determine whether the performance of a speech act is fallacious or not, much more has to be taken into account than simply the pragmatic meanings that the speech act generally communicates. For a fallacy to be detected, the argumentative force of the utterance has to be specified, and this is only possible if the move is situated in its surrounding dialectical setting. In performing the speech act of a question, for example, a fallacy will be committed when this question presupposes information that has not been established in the relevant context (fallacy of many questions), or when it contradicts propositions previously agreed upon (problem of inconsistency). For the analyst then, this means that the starting points pertinent to the argumentation need to be clarified before an evaluation is carried out. Whether a particular question counts as a fallacious move or not depends, crucially, on what the arguers can be assumed to have previously accepted. A question will not be fallacious just by itself.

Examples like the one above can be used to support the following general case: fallacies are context-dependent in that they are relative to the context at hand. Starting from this observation, the present paper sets out to investigate what context-dependence entails for dialectical theories of argumentation, that is, theories aimed first and foremost at evaluating argumentative discourse in light of well-defined dialectical standards. As it provides a unified perspective of the treatment of fallacies, the pragma-dialectical theory of argumentation has been chosen as the theoretical framework (van Eemeren & Grootendorst 1984, 1992a, 2004). This is explained further in the first section of the paper, where some of the difficulties that the analyst is confronted with in identifying fallacies are brought to the fore. The following section discusses in what sense context-dependence poses a theoretical challenge for dialectical theories of argumentation. This discussion is a necessary preliminary step before any suggestions are made as to how this challenge can be overcome. In the final section, the recently developed pragma-dialectical concept of strategic maneuvering is considered as a promising possibility to overcome this challenge (van Eemeren & Houtlosser 2002a, 2002b, 2003). It is argued that the promise of this approach lies in its interesting theoretical proposal to accommodate context-dependence by proposing an alternative account of what it means for fallacies to be relative to the context at hand. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2006 – Classes Of Moral Agent And The Art Of Persuasion In The Pali Nikayas

Not doing any evil (paapa)
Cultivating what is good (kusala)
Purifying the mind
This the teaching of the Buddhas
(Dhammapada 183)

This paper is divided into two parts. The first part is a philosophical argument, based upon Buddhist principles, about the nature of early Buddhist moral thinking. I do not pretend that the arguments in this part of the paper were ever given by, or even occurred to, the Buddha or any Buddhist thinker. Rather, what I hope to show is that the arguments presented here are implicit in the teachings of the Pali Canon and serve to clarify the underlying principles in terms of which early Buddhists appear to have thought. Although my formulation is new, most of the points I make have made been before. I view this work as one of connecting the dots. I don’t believe my arguments would strike thinkers of the Theravada tradition as particularly controversial, but I do hope that they would be regarded as useful clarification. The second part of this paper concerns the extent to which the theoretical conclusions established in the first part are supported by solid textual evidence. One might well ask whether the shapes I discern are actually present, or are rather more like constellations in the night sky. This must always be a concern.
In the end, the arguments presented here will lead us to address the question of audience in the Pali Suttas asking whether it is possible to identify different modes of moral exhortation corresponding to different classes of moral agent. By “classes of moral agent” I have in mind the fundamental threefold distinction of ordinary person, noble disciple, and the liberated being. By “modes of moral exhortation” I mean both the vocabulary and the forms of persuasion employed in enjoining individuals to act in manner considered “good” and praiseworthy by the tradition. Thus the question concerns moral rhetoric in Buddhism.
That there are distinctions to be made among the various audiences entertained by the Buddha and his immediate circle is clear enough. One has only to think of the division between bhikkhus and bhikkhunis on the one hand and members of the laity on the other, as well as the many wanderers and ascetics who the Buddha engages in dialogue.

But in this paper we are particularly concerned with the classification of persons according to their proximity to As is well known, aside from the Tathaagata himself, there are the three basic classes of person listed at numerous points in the Pali Canon. There is, first of all, the ordinary person (puthujjana), one who has not experienced the life-transforming insight into selflessness that alone guarantees liberation. Secondly, there is the noble disciple (sekha), who has had this experience – this first intimation of, and who is, as a consequence assured of final liberation in a maximum of seven lives. He is one who has entered the supramundane path. [i] Finally there is the liberated being (arahat), who has not only eliminated the wrong view of “self” but also entirely eradicated even the subtlest traces of the inclinations towards craving and conceit to which a lingering sense of self may be attached, and upon the basis of which rebirth occurs. [ii] It is my view that to properly understand Buddhist moral thinking, and therefore Buddhist moral discourse, moral conduct (siila) in early Buddhism must be analyzed in relation to these different classes of person. Why?
The prima facie response is that just as persons can be distinguished on the basis of their proximity to, spiritual purity and insight, so too there must be theoretical differences in connection with their inner moral lives. If their subjective worlds differ, it is only natural that their respective experiences of moral conduct will also differ. The central idea, then, is that differences in spiritual development affect the phenomenology, and therefore the correct description, of the moral conduct associated with each kind of agent. Although this suggestion seems reasonable, it requires further justification. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2006 – Visual Arguments In Film

1. Introduction
New developments in the study of the argumentation have been addressed to extend to contexts beyond those with which it was initially preoccupied. One significant point has been the recognition that important realms of argument exist outside the verbal and written arguments. One of these is found in the visual argumentation. In this context, Birdsell and Groarke (1996) defend that some visual images are arguments, but of a non-propositional kind. Blair (1996) maintains that images can have propositional content and qualify as propositional arguments, since the propositions and their argumentative functions are expressed visually. The controversy affects to the paradigm of arguments as verbal entities, a paradigm which is centred on arguments understood as products that people do when argue. This is the logical dimension of argument. But we may consider the rhetorical dimension that allows us to understand the process of arguing as a natural process in the persuasive communication.

In our opinion, that controversy is unnecessary. We assume that some images function as arguments intended to persuade viewers. As our concern is cinema, we think that the contextual factors, the filmmaker’s aims and characters’ emotions are crucial for determining the meaning of visual arguments in film and eventually for persuading audience to accept the thesis the filmmaker wanted to establish. We know that rational argument is not omnipotent. The power of persuasion which this argument possesses might be impressive, but inferior to the direct force of images. Vision and images go together in allowing this driving force. According to Gorgias, our spirit is moulded even in its character through vision, “for the things we see do not have the nature which we wish them to have, but the nature which each happens to have; through sight the soul is impressed even to its core” (2003, p. 82). As Carl Theodor Dreyer (1999, pp. 60 and 90) used to say, cinema is a visual art and images reach viewer’s consciousness easier than words. Images have a great influence on our state of mind, and filmmakers cause emotions and passions with the intention of touching us. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2006 – The Effects Of Textual And Graphical -Textual Argumentation Software As Cognitive Tools On The Development Of Argumentation Skills

1. Introduction
We live in a complex world full with the problems and conflicts. Whether the problem or the conflict exist for an hour, for a year or more; whether the problem at hand is a professional one or totally an individual one; people have to comprehend the complexity, solve problems, make decisions to be able to live in a society. In solving problems, making decisions, formulating opinions, people are required to have developed argumentation skills. Thus, teaching students to be rational thinkers and good problem solvers becomes an important function of school curricula in a complex society. Despite its importance, even high school or university students are not skillfull at constructing reliable, cogent arguments (Kuhn, 1991; Cerbin, 1988; Woods, 1989; Applebee, Langer, ve Mullis, 1986; Bereiter and Scardamalia, 1982; Aldağ, 2005). While Kuhn is signaling a change from learning with hands-on activities to learning with argumentation in science (Kuhn, 1991); the question of how to teach argumentation skills in educational settings is still a topic of disscussion. Until 1960’s, traditional logic courses is offered to students for mastering argumentation skills (Johnson & Blair, 1994). However, criticizing that the traditional logic is incomplete as a tool of rationality, Toulmin published “Uses of Argument” in 1958.

1.1 Toulmin Model of Argumentation
Toulmin suggests that Aristotelian logic with mathematical syllogisms, simply doesn’t fit for the daily arguments. Claiming that the theoretical argument is irrelevant to the assessment of practical argument, he distinguishes between “practical and analytic arguments (Toulmin, 1958). In analytic arguments, arguers ground their claims on abstract, unchanging and universal principles; thus, the conclusion of an analytic argument such as “Socrates is mortal”, is limited only with the premises of “All men are mortal and Socrates is a man.”. Our interest in analyzing argument in traditional logic is to decide whether we have a valid argument or not on the basis of premises.
In practical arguments, arguers ground their claims in the context of a particular situation. A practical argument involves mostly an inference from some data to the conclusion of the argument. While arguer implicitly states warrant, audience have to consider how warrant applies to this inference. Therefore, we do not have to limit our arguments to universally acceptable knowledge, rules or conclusions; on the contrary, we even use our beliefs, opinions or the conditions of that particular situation to make a decision on how valid the argument is. Thus, in daily life we counter not with the valid or invalid arguments, but we counter with more or less reliable argument on which we could decide to some extent. Thus, Toulmin developed an explicit model of argumentation for practical purposes (Toulmin, 1958). Read more

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