Posts Tagged ‘interpersonal reasoning’


The Practice/s of Giving Reasons: a special issue of Topoi

Guest Edited by Chris Campolo and David Godden


The re-discovery, in the late 1970’s, of the perspectives on argument as process and practice (added to that of product) occasioned a dramatic re-visioning of the object of study in argumentation. Viewed as a practice of transacting reasons, argumentation became a situated activity, or doing, requiring know-how, rather than a collection of reasons – a thing containing a collection of knowledge-that.

This volume focuses on the normative and epistemic dimensions and consequences of viewing argumentation as the practice/s of transacting (giving and asking for) reasons. We mean to create momentum behind the perspectives focused primarily on the actions and doings which, alongside many related human practices, constitute argumentation. Here we open a space to explore and interrogate the idea that neither argumentation as a whole, nor the many elements into which it may be analyzed, can be adequately understood apart from an account of what it is to give reasons, with all the complexity and fluidity that attends our engagement in any kind of know-how. Rather, the practice/s of transacting reasons is central to the projects of explaining what a reason is, how reasons work, the normativity of reasons, as well as their prescriptivity (or our accountability to them).


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Argumentation, Rationality and Decision

Imperial College London, 18th-19th September 2014

Argumentation, initially studied in philosophy and law, has in recent years been the subject of extensive formal research in artificial intelligence and computer science. It provides representations and algorithms for reasoning with incomplete and possibly inconsistent information. Formalisms can be used to model decision-making by individual agents performing critical thinking or by multiple entities dialectically engaged to reach mutually acceptable decisions. However, so far there has been little engagement with the rich mathematical theories of decision, studied as part of microeconomic theory.

In turn, formal rational choice theory has paid little attention to the structure and content of arguments brought to bear on decisions. The outcomes of choices are typically assigned values treated as embodying a cardinal or ordinal preference relation, with decision rules identifying good choices according to various decision rules and under differing conditions of circumstantial knowledge (certainty, strict uncertainty, risk). However, when people make decisions, whether that process has been rational or not depends not only on the optimality of outcome, but also on the argumentative structure implicit in the person’s deliberation. The structure of argument is important, and arguments for and against choices are weighed against each other depending on how firm the reasons are from which the argument is formed.


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