Posts Tagged ‘dialectic’


Pragmatics and Dialectics of Argument

The Special Issue of the Journal “Studies in Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric”
K. Budzynska, F. van Eemeren & M. Koszowy (Eds.)

This special issue on “Pragmatics and Dialectics of Argument” is the third of a series of special issues dedicated to argumentation in the journal “Studies in Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric” (SLGR). The previous two issues were dedicated to  major research strands in the philosophy of argument (vol. 29, 2009; in its introduction to “Informal Logic”, the “Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy” says of SLGR that it has “published important special issue on the field”), and the computational approaches to argumentation (vol. 36, 2011). The volume will be built around two chapters concerning the most general and important topics in pragmatics and dialectics of argument: “Speech Acts and Argument” (Ch. I), and “Argumentation in a Dialogue” (Ch. II).

Confirmed contributors (more…)

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September 2-4 2013
Faculty of Philosophy, University of Groningen (Netherlands)

Aristotle’s logic is often treated as though it falls into two quite distinct parts: the deductive syllogistic system, discussed in the Prior and Posterior Analytics and the dialectical system, discussed in the Topics and Sophistical Refutations. Each of these parts has received sustained, independent attention: logicians have done much to articulate the structure of Aristotle’s syllogistic, while commentators have seen Aristotle’s dialectic as key to his whole philosophical enterprise.  (more…)

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This past term I had a rather unpleasant experience in my critical thinking class. I was confronted with a subset of students who walked in the door assured that I had nothing to teach them about critical thinking. I learned this because they vocally resisted absolutely everything with which they did not personally agree. Unfortunately, this wound up being nearly everything in the class–especially when it ran against the notion that everything is a matter of opinion, a matter for an eternal debate in which all views are equally right.

Now, many readers are probably thinking, “cry me a river, that happens to me every term”. I agree. It happens to me almost every term too. What was different this time was how long it lasted (all term, without let-up) and how deep the resistance went. Not even the definition of deductive validity was accepted as offering a legitimate, if technical and limited, usage of the word ‘valid’.  The only validity these students recognized was the sense in which a point of view was “valid to me”, full-stop.  They didn’t bother learning the technical sense of ‘valid’ well enough to offer even cursory reasons for why they wouldn’t accept it. Nor could they articulate what it was, exactly, that made a point of view “valid to me” when asked. This is just one example. On multiple occasions, I got the distinct impression that my refrain that sometimes it takes more than an affirmative “gut feeling” to make it reasonable to hold a position was being taken as a personal affront by some of the students. “How dare I”, their attitude demanded, “try to teach them that things were not as they believed?” (more…)

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Ah, the wonders of Twitter. In a chain of argumentation that wandered around quite a bit today, the question of improvisation (what it is, how best to characterize it, etc.) came up. For those RAIL readers who are classically trained rhetoricians, this question will no doubt call to mind Book Ten of Quintillian’s Institutio Oratoria, which deals with extemporaneous speech. This led to the contribution of the video below by one of the participants.

The expansive talk herein is by George E. Lewis, the Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University. The general gist of it is that much of human interaction is understandable as improvisation (as understood in a manner analogous to the sort that occurs in musical performance). If this were right, then interesting consequences would follow for argumentation, at least when argumentation is considered as a dialectical process between two or more persons.  For starters, one such consequence would be that argumentation needs to be seen more as a cooperative than a competitive phenomenon. Accordingly, many of the “moves” of various participants would have to be understood outside the scope of strategies for “winning”.  There are other potential results too, I think, but they’re likely to appear differentially according to the approach to argumentation one takes. (For example, I find myself wondering with great interest how those working within the framework of normative pragmatics would understand improvisation in argumentation, but I’ll leave the answering of that wonder to those more qualified than I to speak on it.)

It is an interesting talk, but be warned: it is a little on the longish side and it’s general orientation from within a Continental philosophical framework may not be everyone’s cup of tea. If, knowing that, you’re not scared, then have go at it!

I would be remiss if I did not thank consummate jazz musician Vijay Iyer 1) for getting involved in our Twitter conversation at all and 2) for posting the above video in the hopes of enlightening us as to the nature and power of improvisation.  In return, I post this video of his wonderful trio covering Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” in which they, yes, improvise delightfully.

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An interesting find for me this week was the online philosophy journal American Dialectic.  Unlike most online journals AD doesn’t aspire simply to be the online version of a print journal. It aims, instead, to encourage thoughtful discussion by publishing focused responses to the articles and (ostensibly at least)  having authors respond to readers’ questions and comments about their articles.  Hence this, from the journal’s “About Us” page:

American Dialectic is an online journal committed to enriching scholarly publication, discourse, and intellectual development in Philosophy and related fields.  As an organization, American Dialectic is devoted to publishing intellectually excellent articles and to promoting the dialectical development of ideas among a broad community of readers.  This is accomplished by combining the best aspects of a traditional publication with the best aspects of a scholarly conference: lead articles are published on our website and then are followed throughout the publication cycle by edited responses that are written and submitted by our readers.  Through this unique publishing mechanism, American Dialectic aims to foster the continued intellectual development of contributors, respondents, and readers alike. […] Readers are encouraged to genuinely engage with the articles by asking targeted questions and formulating insightful responses.  Substantial questions and responses, junior submissions themselves, are then actively published following the lead article.  The lead authors, respondents and readers can then, as a community, identify important points, clarify issues, resolve problems, and ultimately find common ground by building toward a more complete philosophic understanding.

It’s a nice idea, and one that hearkens back to the way philosophy journals operated until the explosion of PhDs in the discipline in the 1970s and 80s.  Comments and discussion notes are still formally welcomed by many journals, but the reality is that they are seldom published and even less frequently answered.  This means that there isn’t much incentive to write such things even though they do a great service to the person trying to work the bugs out of his or her ideas.  The community of those interested in the ideas of a particular article or writer are, as a result, also deprived of the chance to see how the ideas in question fare in thoughtful, critical discussion. This, to my mind, is a real loss. (more…)

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