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Posts Tagged ‘Floris Bex’

RAIL is pleased to recommend the Special Issue of Studies in Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric on Argument and Computation.

If, for some reason, you’re not yet paying attention to the things that are happening in the computation-based wing of argumentation theory, let me ever-so-humbly suggest that you should be. The excellent work being done in this area integrates not only key insights from mainstream contemporary argumentation theory but key insights from the ever-developing field of non-monotonic logic too.  Well and truly gone are the days when, as applied to logic, ‘formal’ meant ‘classical’.  This is truly exciting stuff.  Those with no background in the overlap between argumentation and computation may wish to begin with Chris Reed and Marcin Kosowy’s excellent introduction.  Following that, I would recommend Doug Walton’s article, “How to Refute an Argument in Artificial Intelligence” and Marcin Lewinsky’s article too as being particularly friendly to those whose background is heavier in argumentation and/or dialectics (per the Walton-Krabbe model) than in computation as next steps.

This issue is special in that it shows the relevance of computational approaches to nearly every branch of argumentation theory. To look at what some would consider extremes, for example, formal logic is represented in Kazimierz Trzęsicki’s excellent treatment of the problem of argument classification, but so is rhetoric in the article by Katarzyna Budzyńska and Magdalena Kacprzak, that represents the latest extension of their work at the time of this writing.

It is timely too. For those who have an interest in the way that argumentation is carried out through the medium of the internet this issue will be very useful indeed. The aforementioned article by Lewinsky covers this ground as does the article by Karolina Stefanowicz.  Those interested in contemporary pragma-dialetctics will also find much to pique their interest here, especially the article by the team of Jacky Visser, Floris Bex, Chris Reed and Bart Garssen.

Though of course the computational wing of argumentation theory is established and thriving in departments all over the world, I think this issue of Studies in Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric also shows the variety of good things that are happening in what is becoming the vibrant argumentation theory community of Warsaw. We should all be paying attention.

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"Homme assis" by Roger-Noël-François de La Fresnaye, c.1914

In a recent blog post provocatively titled “Kurt Vonnegut turns Cinderella into an Equation” Robert Krulwich (co-host of the excellent WNYC series Radiolab) uses a wonderful pair of cartoons to suggest that if humans are creatures who thrive on pattern, then scientists and mathematicians are compulsive pattern finders,  “pattern addicts” as it were.  Logicians and students of argument, I think, fairly belong in this category as well. Some of us talk about logical form and explain it in terms of complicated relationships between abstract symbols and letters. Or we classify arguments by scheme and develop equally schematic lists of questions with which to test their merits. The dialectically inclined among us give us patterns of argumentation between two or more arguers.  We create argument diagrams, relevance cubes, maps of controversies and many more things like them besides. We’re pattern people. There’s no doubt about it.

Interestingly, Krulwich closes his post by suggesting that even more than than scientists and mathematicians (and perhaps logicians and argumentation scholars too?) artists and storytellers may be even more pattern-aware. As exhibit the first he offers this short (and altogether too good not to reproduce) video of the legendary Kurt Vonnegut:

Let us begin with the obvious: we don’t need Vonnegut to tell us that stories have patterns too (though of course his way of telling us is very entertaining and we’re very lucky to have it). Clearly they’re there. The deeper issue has to do with the nature and significance of such patterns. How do we interpret them? How do we reason about them? How do we reason with them?

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