Archive for the ‘Discussion’ Category

9th eColloq on Argumentation
Thursday DEC 12, 2013, 4 pm Central European Time (Berlin, Rome, Stockholm)
4.00-4.10 Connect, Welcome
4.10-4:35 Constanza Ihnen (University of Chile): Deliberation and negotiation: Grasping the difference
4:35-4:50 Discussion
4:50-5:00 Break
5:00-5:25 David Godden (Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, USA): Argumentation, rationality, and psychology of reasoning
5:25-5:40 Discussion
Abstracts are available at the above website.
To participate as a discussant, please review the hard- and software requirement (listed under “TechThings”), and send e-mail to frank.zenker@fil.lu.se.

Read Full Post »

A screen shot of Rationale Online

A screen shot of Rationale Online, click for a larger view.

It’s no secret to regular readers here that I’m a big fan of argument mapping. I’ve written about it several times and it’s come to be a very important component of my teaching. That’s why I’m happy to have added Rationale Online, a web-based version of the Rationale software package, to the RAIL Resources page.  Beyond merely listing it there, though, I thought I’d put up a short post about it as I think it really does represent a positive step in the evolution of argument diagramming software for the classroom.

The diagramming system used in Rationale Online is a descendant of that pioneered by Tim van Gelder (some will remember Reason!Able), wherein one can diagram both arguments and various sorts of rebuttals, with or without incorporating various sorts of argument schemes from a number of different models. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Paul Gustav Fischer, "A fire on Kultorvet" c.1900

Paul Gustav Fischer, “A fire on Kultorvet” c.1900

Eric Schliesser, over at NewAPPS, has an interesting post up regarding a dispute between Marcus Arvan and Jason Brennan over the ethics of promoting the study of philosophy by citing empirical data about the success of philosophy majors. For those outside the discipline of philosophy this may seem a tempest in a teacup, but I think it warrants a closer look. For where one reads ‘philosophy’ in these discussions one could almost, in every case, substitute the name of another humanities discipline with no damage at all to the logic of the arguments in play. In the same way, I’m writing this post as a philosopher, but my guess is that a good deal of what I say here could probably be said just as well (if perhaps more eloquently) by my colleagues in, say, English or Communications. (more…)

Read Full Post »

The connections between argumentation theory and mainstream analytic-ish philosophy may not always be clear for those outside of either discipline. For those that find themselves so bemused, I recommend having a look at yesterday’s interview with philosopher Robert Stalnaker, by 3:AM magazine.  The discussion ranges over a wide spectrum of issues, from the importance of pragmatics to the motivations for possible worlds metaphysics. Along the way a number of contact points with the concerns of argumentation theory can be discerned. Consider Stalnaker on this bit about contextualism and disagreement, for example:

There is a philosophical problem that needs to be addressed, but the threat is not just an abstract philosophical concern. The contextualist picture also points to a practical threat that is worth worrying about. The contexts in which discourse and inquiry take place can be, and are, manipulated in ways that distort the outcome. If, as I believe, we can make sense of rational discourse, deliberation and inquiry, only in a given context which involves substantive presuppositions, we face a daunting challenge when the contexts we find ourselves in are skewed – when the basic presuppositions that define the context are false. When disagreements are deep, or when one judges that our whole way of looking at things is radically mistaken, we need to find our way into a new context, and there may be no neutral way to do so. But we have rich and diverse resources for talking and thinking about the world and for deciding what we must do, and even if there is no absolutely neutral set of rules governing rational activity, and no safe platform where we are guaranteed to find common ground on which to settle our disagreements and find the truth, with good will we can usually find a way to get to a place where we can understand each other, and engage in what we can agree is rational debate.

The interview is well worth your time, if you have an interest in connections like these. A plus is that the interviewer makes a point of pushing the question of how the work that Stalnaker does as a professional philosopher is relevant to the world outside the discipline–a challenge that Stalnaker largely is able to answer.  You can read interview in its entirety here.

Read Full Post »

We all know we’re not supposed to engage in fallacious argumentation.  We might disagree about what fallacies there are or how they work, but we all agree that there are certain moves in argumentation–at least in some contexts–that are just downright, well…dishonest. How do we keep students and others in our charge from wandering down that path? Most of the time the method is to teach and to reinforce practices of good argumentation, while at the same time teaching them how to recognize and nullify, with critique, the fallacious arguments of others. So far the story is not all that different from any other well-known model of moral education. Teach and promote the good, identify and punish the bad.  And that works most of the time in the hermetically sealed environment of the classroom.  Then our students go out into the world and encounter argumentation like this:

Or this… (more…)

Read Full Post »

The Rhetoric in Society 4 conference is currently underway in Copenhagen. If you are attending the conference and are on Twitter you can post about the conference using the hashtag #RiS4.   I’ll then re-tweet them and they’ll appear in the box to the right of this screen, prefixed with an RT.

Twitter back-channels like this are a nice way to keep the discussion going whether or not you happen to be at the conference itself.  Hats off to Robert Craig for first use of the hashtag!

The lineup of speakers and sessions for Rhetoric in Society 4 looks very interesting indeed.  Here’s hoping the sessions spark as lively a discussion electronically as they no doubt do face-to-face!

*Note: Apologies for RT’s that appear out of order! I’m keeping up as best I can from the wrong end of the time difference. :)

Read Full Post »

"The Way You Hear It Is the Way You Sing It", by Jan Steen, c.1665

“The Way You Hear It Is the Way You Sing It”, by Jan Steen, c.1665

Seven people are sitting around the bar at the local college watering hole, when the bartender looks up from the taps and asks, “Say, how normative is logic, anyway?” From around the bar the patrons answer: (more…)

Read Full Post »

Here’s a lovely little talk by John Cleese on the subject of creativity.  While watching it I was struck that many of Cleese’s points applied equally well to the sort of problem solving we think of as central to critical thinking. Readers of RAIL may recall earlier discussions of this topic that can be found here and here about the (supposed) distinction between the two. This video extends those discussions nicely.

No matter where one comes down on the question of the relationship between critical and creative thinking, there are some interesting suggestions here. Of particular interest should be his remarks on space, time, quiet, and humor–all of which (though I think the last especially) are in increasingly short supply. Some of the psychology is a little dated (the video was shot in the 1980′s, I think), but the advice is still interesting and worthy of consideration.


The end is worth hanging on for, as it affords a political edge to the talk.

Read Full Post »

In this video Clay Shirky discusses how open source programmers channel social media technologies in ways that could, if thoughtfully and creatively adopted, bring about powerful changes in the way that democratic institutions work.  There are a number of features of this talk that should be of interest to argumentation theorists.  Students of pragma-dialectics and others who believe that disagreement is of central theoretical importance to argumentation theory, for instance, will find welcoming Shirky’s assertion that “The more ideas there are in circulation, the more ideas there are for any individual to disagree with. More media always means more arguing.”  Also of interest for those of us interested in the intersection between argumentation theory and democratic theory is Shirky’s account of how the method of distributed version control used by early open source programmers enabled “cooperation without [top-down] coordination”. Perhaps most interesting, though, is Shirky’s description that changes in media bring about cultural changes largely by introducing new modes of argument.

Whether one agrees with everything Shirky says here or not, it is hard to disagree with the fundamental intuition that I think  lies underneath his points:  that argumentation is the core technology of democracy, and that improving democracy means attending, carefully and critically, to the modes in which we argue.

Read Full Post »

As many will be aware, two weeks ago the Centre for Research in Reasoning, Argumentation and Rhetoric (CRRAR) hosted a symposium on Mercier and Sperber’s argument-based theory of reasoning at the University of Windsor.  Hugo Mercier himself gave the keynote. The panelists were Ian Hacking, Burkhard Schafer, Mark Aakhus, and Lori Buchanan. The co-chairs were Doug Walton and myself. The event took place over two days. The first day was a public presentation and discussion of the theory. The center of the second day’s events was an open (but moderated) roundtable discussion on the theory in which the speakers, CRRAR fellows, and guests all participated.  Both days saw intense, but very stimulating and rewarding conversations.

Spurred by several requests from abroad, we decided to have the events of the first day recorded so that they could be shared with the entire argumentation studies community. I am pleased to be able to announce that that video is now available.  You can watch it by clicking here. Unfortunately, however, there were technical problems with the camera that resulted in our not having usable video. That said, the audio quality is good and the slides for the keynote presentation are synced so that they can be followed with the talk. The panelists’ responses to the keynote presentations are still included too. They were excellent and are well worth the listening.

Thanks again to all who participated, attended, and in other ways great and small helped to make it a great weekend!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 87 other followers