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

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ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ That’s No Argument! The Ultimate Criticism?

Abstract: What if in discussion the critic refuses to recognize an emotionally expressed (alleged) argument of her interlocutor as an argument? In this paper, we shall deal with this reproach, which taken literally amounts to a charge of having committed a fallacy of non-argumentation. As such it is a very strong, if not the ultimate, criticism, which even carries the risk of abandonment of the discussion and can, therefore, not be made without burdening oneself with correspondingly strong obligations. We want to specify the fallacies of non-argumentation and their dialectic, i.e., the proper way to criticize them, the appropriate ways for the arguer to react to such criticism, and the appropriate ways for the critic to follow up on these reactions. Among the types of fallacy of non-argumentation, the emphasis will be on the appeal to popular sentiments (argumentum ad populum). Our aim is to reach, for cases of (alleged) non-argumentation, a survey of dialectical possibilities. By making the disputants themselves responsible for the place of emotion in their dialogues, we hope to contribute to a further development of the theory of dialectical obligations.

Keywords: Abandonment of discussion, Ad populum, Criticism, Dialogue, Emotion, Fallacy, Non-Argumentation, Ultimate criticism

1. Introduction
In this paper, we want to study the so-called fallacies of non-argumentation and the corresponding kind of fallacy criticism: the accusation of having presented no argument at all. This may count as a sort of ultimate criticism.
Generally, fallacy criticisms point out a problem and ask for repair so that in a metadialogue (a dialogue about the dialogue) one may deal with the problem. But an accusation of “non-argumentation” denies that there even is an argument. Therefore it seems to leave no room for any amendments or further discussion. Let us look at an example. It’s from the ongoing discussion about gay marriage.
When last year the Republican Senator Rob Portman decided to support same-sex marriage, the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, was asked what he thought about that. Boehner then rejected gay marriage by an expression of his gut feelings about it. This again led to an accusation of non-argumentation:

CASE 1: Gay marriage
Asked about Portman’s change of heart, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) explained on ABC’s This Week, “I believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.”
Asked if his position might change, Boehner explained and elaborated (not really):
“Listen, I believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. … It’s what I grew up with. It’s what I believe. It’s what my church teaches me. And I can’t imagine that position would ever change.” (Leon 2013, italics as in the original)

Commentator Michael Leon criticizes Boehner by a charge of non-argumentation: Boehner’s repeated assertions that he feels this way because he believes this way is not an argument […] (Leon 2013, italics as in the original).

This case is not so simple as it may appear. For one thing, in order for a fallacy charge of non-argumentation to be appropriate, the accused should be in a position where he or she is indeed expected to provide an argument. A mere expression of one’s opinion, where this opinion has not been called into question, cannot amount to a fallacy of non-argumentation. Leon seems to suppose that in the case he considers this condition has been met; probably, because politicians are supposed to argue. Further, there must really be no reconstructable argument. In Case 1, however, this is doubtful since Boehner invokes the teaching of his church, which amounts to a – be it rudimentary – argument from authority. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ The Study Of Reasoning In The Lvov-Warsaw School As A Predecessor Of And Inspiration For Argumentation Theory

Abstract: The hypothesis proposed in this paper holds that the Polish logico-methodological tradition of the Lvov-Warsaw School (LWS) has a chance to become an inspiring pillar of argumentation studies. To justify this claim we show that some ideas regarding classifications of reasoning may be applied to enrich the study of argument structures and we argue that Frydman’s constructive account of legal interpretation of statutes is an important predecessor of contemporary constructivism in legal argumentation.

Keywords: classifications of reasoning, argument structures, schemes for fallacious reasoning, legal constructivism, the Lvov-Warsaw School

1. Introduction
The motivation for this paper lies in exploring possible applications of the heritage of the Lvov-Warsaw School (LWS) in argumentation theory. After presenting a wider map of current research strands and future systematic applications of the LWS tradition in contemporary argument studies (Koszowy & Araszkiewicz, 2014), in this paper we focus on the study of reasoning as one particular area of inquiry which constituted the core concern of the LWS. The main justification of the need of focusing on the inquiry into the nature of reasoning in the LWS is twofold. Firstly, it manifests clearly that apart from purely formal accounts, the School elaborated the broader pragmatic approach to reasoning which may be also of interest for argumentation theorists. Secondly, it may be particularly inspiring for contemporary argument studies because of the possibility of applying it in (i) argument reconstruction and representation and (ii) identifying the structure of fallacious reasoning.

The research hypothesis proposed in this paper holds that the Polish logico-methodological tradition of the Lvov-Warsaw School (LWS) has a chance to become an important theoretical pillar of contemporary study of argumentation. This hypothesis may be justified by undertaking systematic inquiry which would show that some key ideas of the LWS may be applied in developing some crucial branches of the contemporary study of argumentation. In order to argue that such an inquiry is a legitimate research project, we will show that apart from the developments of formal logic which are associated with the works of such outstanding logicians and philosophers as Tarski, Leśniewski or Łukasiewicz, in the LWS there was also present a strong pragmatic movement which may be associated e.g. with the works of Ajdukiewicz. Moreover, our aim is also to show that even ‘purely formal’ approaches to reasoning (e.g. the theory of rejected propositions proposed by Łukasiewicz) may turn out to be inspiring for argument analysis and representation.

In this paper, we will discuss two areas of applying ideas of LWS: argumentation schemes and legal argumentation. The aim of the paper will be accomplished in following steps. In section 2 we will sketch an outline of those research areas in the LWS which might be particularly interesting for argument studies. This preparatory discussion will constitute an introduction to Section 3 which is aimed at discussing the issue of applicability of LWS ideas regarding classifications of reasoning in argument representation. In Section 4, we will discuss the second area of applying the tradition of LWS in the study of argumentation is the domain of legal argumentation. We will argue that Frydman’s constructive account of legal interpretation of statutes (1936) is an important predecessor of a contemporary view in theory of legal argumentation referred to as constructivism and advanced for instance by Hage (2013). Finally, in the concluding section, we will sketch an answer to the question of how the two specific contexts discussed in the paper form a good starting point for a broader research project concerning application of methods and ideas developed in the LWS to contemporary open problems of argumentation theory. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ Classifying Argumentation/Reasoning Schemes Proper Within The New Rhetoric Project

Abstract: Previous research on the New Rhetoric Project’s classification categories for argumentation/reasoning schemes has dismissed three overarching categories – association, dissociation, and breaking of connecting links, and focused on specific schemes proper. Challenging this communal understanding of the Project about the classification of schemes proper, this article will reconfigure the relationship between the overarching categories and schemes proper. In this process, a forth overarching category, or ‘re-confirming of connecting links’ will be proposed and defended.

Keywords: adherence, argumentation/reasoning schemes proper, association, audience, breaking of connecting links, dissociation, New Rhetoric Project (NRP), and re-configuring of connecting links

1. Introduction
Since Arthur Hastings’ dissertation on mode of reasoning was re-discovered in mid-1980s, research on argumentation/reasoning schemes[i] has flourished. Pragma-Dialecticians, rhetoricians, informal logicians, and computer scientists have written on the topic, which has helped argumentation schemes to gain presence within the community of argumentation scholars.

Before the research on argumentation schemes became significant, Chaim Perelman and Lucie-Olbrechts Tyteca examined various schemes/techniques of argumentation in their New Rhetoric Project (NRP). In classifying argumentation schemes proper, the NRP offers three overarching categories: association, dissociation, and breaking of connecting links. With association, arguers assemble entities that are thought to be different into a single unity, using techniques such as quasi-logical arguments, arguments based on the structure of the real, and arguments establishing the structure of the real. Each of these subcategories have their sub-subcategories under which specific argumentation schemes proper, such as argument from sign, analogical argument, or causal argument are discussed.

With dissociation, arguers dissemble what is originally thought to be a single unified entity into two or more different entities by introducing criteria for differentiation. Using dissociation, they help their audience members see the situation in a new light and attempt to persuade them to accept it. In short, dissociation attempts to establish a conceptual distinction and a hierarchy within what is believed to be a single and united entity.

In discussing dissociation, the NRP briefly refers to breaking of connecting links as a third category. This third category is referred to as opposition to the establishment of the connection, interdependence, or unity constructed by association.

In the first three chapters we examined connecting links in argumentation that have the effect of making interdependent elements that could originally be considered independent. Opposition to the establishment of such an interdependence will be displayed by a refusal to recognize the existence of a connecting link. Objection will, in particular, take the form of showing that a link considered to have been accepted, or one that was assumed or hoped for, does not exist, because there are no grounds for stating or maintaining that certain phenomena under consideration exercise an influence on those which are under discussion and it is consequently irrelevant to take the former into account. (Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca, 1969, p. 411)

In the breaking of connecting links, audience members mistakenly accept or assume that a key entity in the premise constitutes one and the same unity at the beginning of argumentation when it is actually made up of distinctively different entities; the inferential process reveals the audience members’ confusion and advances the thesis that reveals the distinction that exists. Forcing the audience members to recognize their confusion and understand the lack of connection can be substantiated “by actual or mental experience, by changes in the conditions governing a situation, and, more particularly, in the sciences, by the examination of certain variables” (Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca, 1969, p. 411).

While the NRP does not claim to be exhaustive in its treatment of argumentation schemes, the three categories seem to be general enough to encompass different scheme types. However, argumentation scholars have criticized its weaknesses (Eemeren, Garssen, Krabbe, Henkemans, Verheij, and Wagemans, 2014, pp. 291-292; Kienpointner, 1987, p. 39). A strong criticism against the NRP on its treatment of argumentation schemes proper comes from Kienpointner. He states that:

(T)he same scheme can be seen as means of association and dissociation, or with other words, means of justification and refutation. As most dissociative pairs correspond to associative schemes (which correspond on their turn to the types of warrants of the standard catalogue), I content myself to present the associative schemes. (Kienpointner, 1987, p. 283)

With this line of criticism he denies the necessity of the overarching categories of association, dissociation, and breaking of connecting links. Instead, he examines only argumentation schemes proper used for association, disregarding ones used for dissociation. Since his criticism denies the need for the triad categories and urges us to focus only on argumentation schemes proper, it constitutes a serious challenge to the NRP’s classification of argumentation. Therefore, it calls for our investigation. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ Where Is Visual Argument?

Abstract: Argumentation studies suffer from a lack of empirical studies of how audiences actually perceive and construct rhetorical argumentation from communicative stimuli. This is especially pertinent to the study of visual argumentation, because such argumentation is fundamentally enthymematic, leaving most of the reconstruction of premises to the viewer. This paper therefore uses the method of audience analysis, frequently used in communication studies, to establish how viewers interpret instances of visual argumentation such as pictorially dominated advertisements.

Keywords: advertising, images, pictures, reception studies, reconstruction, rhetoric, visual argumentation

1. Audiences and the reconstruction of pictorial argumentation
The reconstruction of pictorial and visual argumentation has been pointed out as especially problematic since pictures neither contain words or precise reference to premises, nor has any syntax or explicit conjunctions that coordinate premise and conclusions. Researchers have been critical of speculative reconstruction of visual premises and arguments that are – they claim – not there; or at least that we cannot know for sure are there. So a central question becomes: Where is argument? Or rather where is visual argument?

I propose that we should more often turn to studies of audience reception; because if an audience actually perceives an argument when encountering an instance of visual communication, then surely an argument has been provided.
The first audience analysis must have been Aristotle’s description of the various types of human character in the Rhetoric. However, in rhetorical research empirical audience analyses are rare, and in argumentation studies they seem to be completely absent. More than anything rhetorical argumentation research is text focused.
When rhetoricians actually discuss the audience, they are mostly concerned with the audience as theoretical or textual constructions. They examine the universal audience (Perelman & Olbrechts-Tyteca 1969), the second persona (Black 1998), the audience constituted by the text (e.g. Charland 1987), the ignored or alienated audience (e.g. Wander 2013), or they theorize about the audience’s cognitive processing of messages (W. Benoit & Smythe 2003).

Instead of limiting ourselves to such textual and theoretical approaches, I propose that research into rhetorical argumentation should more often examine the understandings and conceptualization of the rhetorical audience. From mostly approaching audience as a theoretical construction that are examined textually and speculatively, we should give more attention to empirical explorations of actual audiences and users.

When argumentation theorists discuss the audience mostly they engage in discussions about the identity of the audience and the (im)possibility of determining the identity of the audience (Govier 1999, 183 ff.; Johnson 2013, Tindale 1992, 1999, 2013). Because it is hard to define or locate the audience aspirations to examine audiences are sometimes countered with the argument that such studies are futile, because we cannot really know who the audience is. Trudy Govier, for instance, in her book The Philosophy of Argument, questions how much audience “matter for the understanding and evaluation of an argument”. She introduces the concept of the “Noninteractive Audience – the audience that cannot interact with the arguer, and whose views are not known to him” (Govier 1999, p. 183).

The mass audience, which is probably the most typical audience in the media society of our days, is “the most common and pervasive example of a Noninteractive Audience”. The views of this noninteractive and heterogenous audience, Govier says, are unknown and unpredictable (Govier 1999, p. 187). This means “trying to understand an audience’s beliefs in order to tailor one’s argument accordingly is fruitless” (Tindale 2013, p. 511). Consequently, “Govier suggests, it is not useful for informal logicians to appeal to audiences to resolve issues like whether premises are acceptable and theorists should fall back on other criteria to decide such things”. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ Changing The Practice Of Knowledge Creation Through Collaborative Argument Mapping On The Internet

Abstract: Based on a definition of knowledge as “justified true belief,” this paper develops a vision of global, collaborative knowledge creation in a World of Arguments that is centrally stored on the Internet. Knowledge claims and hypotheses would be formulated, justified, and debated on continuously growing and improved argument maps. Additionally, the paper discusses a few problems of this vision.

Keywords: AGORA-net, argument mapping, collaboration, computer-supported argument visualization (CSAV), individuality, Internet, knowledge, logosymphesis, scientific practice, visualization.

1. Introduction
The definition of knowledge as “justified true belief” – which seems to be widely shared in philo¬sophy since Plato introduced it in his dialog Theaetetus (201d) – requires that one can know only what one is able to justify. What we cannot justify, we might believe, but we do not “know” it. Only those statements can be claimed to be knowledge that can be justified by reasons. For this reason we can say that the process of justifying claims and hypotheses is at the core of knowledge creation. Providing reasons is the essence of scientific activity.

Based on this consideration, I will develop in this contribution a vision of how the practice of knowledge creation can be substantially changed by using collaborative argument visualization software that allows synchronous and asynchronous collaboration on graphically represented “argument maps” on the Internet. Starting from a description of traditional knowledge production as a four-step process of research, publication, debate, and new research, I will show in the first part that computer-supported collaborative argument visualization – CSCAV, as I call it – can change the practice of knowledge creation in a variety of ways, most importantly by putting collaboration in the centre of scientific activity, so much even, that the contribution of individual scientists and scholars might disappear behind the communal effort. Read more

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