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Posts Tagged ‘Dan Sperber’

Though it isn’t exactly recent, this video of Dan Sperber describing his theory of mind and communication at Edge.orgis an excellent way to spend 12 minutes.  In addition to the

Are they “living” culture, making inferences, replicating memes, or sending & receiving code?

video, the page has an extended and lightly edited transcript of Sperber’s short talk that makes it very easy to see the differences between Sperber’s theory of mind and communication, that of Dawkins’, and what are, for some in argumentation theory, perhaps the more familiar semiological approaches.  The video will also be of interest to those working on these topics from philosophical starting points.
If often find myself wishing that there were more discussion about these issues in argumentation theory and informal logic than there often seems to be.  Perhaps Sperber’s work, including not just his talk here but last year’s release of Meaning and Relevance (an extension of the classic Relevance, also co-written with Deirdre Wilson), and the argument theory of reasoning he and Hugo Mercier have developed, will be just the stimulus we need to see our investigations afresh.

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Informal Logic vol. 32 no. 1

The latest edition of Informal Logic  is now available.  Contributing authors to this volume include Lilian Bermejo-Luque , Louise Cummings , Christoph Lumer, Michael Gary Duncan,  David Botting and Ben Hamby.  While there are, as usual, several very interesting articles, of particular interest to readers of RAIL will be Cristián Santibáñez Yáñez’s thorough and well-researched critical notice of the forthcoming book-length treatment of Mercier and Sperber’s argument theory of reasoning.   The arrival of this book will undoubtedly be one of the highest-impact events of recent years on argumentation studies.  If you’ve not become acquainted with it yet, this critical notice is a good place to start.  (The archives here at RAIL aren’t bad either!)

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Rhetoricians will appreciate the presence of an attentive, if quadrupedal, audience in addition to the speakers.

An interesting phone interview with Hugo Mercier popped up today on Point of Inquiry, the blog for the Center for Inquiry.  The role of the confirmation bias, disagreement, and polarization are covered in this interesting discussion.  There are some very familiar themes here for argumentation theorists. It’s well worth a listen.  The clear and economical discussion of what can be complicated ideas here makes the podcast something potentially useful in advanced classes on reasoning too. The interview is about 40 minutes long. Click on the link below to listen.

Interview with Hugo Mercier

(Note: The file may take a moment to load depending upon your connection speed, so do be patient!)

 

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Scientific American: Winning Argument: As a ‘New’ Critique of Reason, Argumentative Theory Is Trite but Useful.

In recent posts here on RAIL I’ve been upfront about my tendency to like Mercier and Sperber’s work. Critical discussion of it, however, is still valuable and this short article in Scientific American by John Horgan is an accessible, if somewhat ambivalent gesture in that direction.

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Apollo and the Muses by Hans Holbein the Younger, 1533

The world of those who study argument and who study reason and rationality is abuzz with talk of the provocative research of Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber. Anyone who was at last week’s OSSA conference heard their names in practically every other conversation or presentation. For my own part I’m not sure quite what to make of their work.  On the one hand it’s exciting to see argument and reason brought together in empirical research, and I’m well on record as being very friendly to the notion that argument has a very deeply rooted functionality for human beings at both the collective and individual levels. On the other hand, I’m not sure that there aren’t grave problems lurking within. For one, Mercier and Sperber seem at times to work from the assumption that ‘argument’ means ‘deductive argument’ and if this is so, I’m not at all sure that it is wise.  The body of work on analogy alone would give me pause regarding the prospects of such a view, to say nothing of the work of the informal logic movement in the last 30 years.  There are other things that trouble me, but as I’m still doing research in this general idea I’ll try to save myself what might turn out to be a super-sized helping of crow and leave the reader to their own devices where Messrs. Mercier and Sperber are concerned.

At any rate there’s no denying it’s relevance to the world of argumentation theory.  In that vein this video interview with Hugo Mercier is one that I expect will be of interest to many.  The interview is located at the web journal* Edge, itself worth a look to those with an interest in interdisciplinary intellectual discourse.

*(All apologies to those of you who thought that by ‘Edge’ I was referring to an Irish fellow–though I confess I probably would have watched that interview with interest too.)

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