ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ Discourse, Argumentation And Constructivist Approaches: Analysing Discourses Of Social Change

Abstract: My research in recent years has focused on the analysis of discourse of social change as a type of ‘ideological construction’, using a holistic, interdisciplinary approach that combines: a) constructivist rhetoric and argumentation; b) the constructivist theories of Bateson, Goffman, Gumperz and Lakoff; and c) embodied social cognition studies. This article examines the concept of ideological construction in relation to data from the Spanish 15M movement.

Keywords: Constructivist rhetoric, Critical discourse analysis, Complexity studies, Discourses of social change, Embodied cognition, Ideological construction, Socio-cognitive frame, 15M.

1. Introduction
In recent decades, research in Critical Discourse Analysis (or CDA), particularly in Europe, has shown a growing interest in political discourse in globalized, democratic societies. This, in turn, has led to a broader definition of the term ‘political discourse’, used here in the wider sense of the varied discursive practices of political professionals, and the socio-political proposals for change generated by diverse social groups, described as ‘discourses of social change’ by Montesano Montessori & Morales-López (2014) and Morales-López (2012, 2014).

Discourses of social change are ideological speech acts that call for radical social and political reforms. They appeal, in the first instance, to the country’s citizens, in order to gain support for the speakers’ ideological position, but also to government, key state bodies and other international institutions, in an effort to have their proposals adopted as policy (Morales-López, 2012, 2014).

2. Theoretical framework and methodology
This study looks at discourses of social change from three different perspectives:
1. pragmatic-functionalist;
2. rhetorical-argumentative; and
3. socio-cognitive.[i]

This triple-perspective approach illustrates more effectively why the construction of meaning in ideological discourse is inseparable from the following key factors:
a. the deliberate selection of multi-modal communicative resources;
b. human action and the local and global contexts in which the communicative act takes place; and
c. the cognitive constructions of the actors themselves. Read more

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

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

Time to say Good-bye

September 20th 2009 – a short walk through the busy city of Brussels: Journées du Patrimoine and Dimanche sans Voiture – though using the car is apparently not forbidden it is widely accepted not to use it. Nevertheless, the streets are crowded.

The sun is shining, and it is ideal for people from the Belgium and European capital to enjoy lovely day outdoor. Not just the Grand Place is reminiscent of a modern version of Pieter Brueghel’ s paintings but the main streets are occupied by colourful ado. Variegated syllables in different languages, the sound of music from everywhere and the people in their various dresses: simple and modern, jaunty and a little bit frivolous or conservative-respectable. Men, women – showing their faces au naturel and others who still look more like a masque of themselves – despite the vibe of the folk’s fair, despite people apparently taking over the lead.

And it is in the middle of this hassle and bustle and bursting joyfulness that I begin to get contemplative: Finally a decision had now been taken – a decision that stood in waiting position since some time, but loosely only, still needing confirmation. And a decision that is not really a single event – it is part of a series of events, decisions, part of a long development. A historical decision? A fundamental change?
So many decisions had been taken and are frequently taken – though they seem to be large or small, we do not really know what their meaning is in the historical development – a history made by men, a history that is made by us and nevertheless weighs as nightmare on our shoulders.

Read more

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