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Posts Tagged ‘ISSA’

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Just in case you’ve not yet heard about this, the folks in Windsor have done us all a great service. The proceedings of all OSSA conferences from the very first to the most recent are now available online at the OSSA Conference Archive. Papers and commentaries are available for viewing and download. Search options are up-to-date too. For those of us who want to cite these papers in our work, this is an indispensable and easy-to-use resource that compares favorably with the ISSA Conference Archive maintained by Rozenberg Quarterly. Both are laudable additions to the online resources available for argumentation researchers.

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Pictures from ISSA 2010

For those who may have missed it, or for those who may want to revisit the experience, the conference organizers have posted some pictures of goings on at the Seventh ISSA conference.  Those of you who were in attendance will be happy to know that we all look remarkably comfortable despite the heat wave. Perhaps argumentation theorists just know how to keep their cool…

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Cognitive dissonance is one of the best established notions in psychology.  Simply put (perhaps too simply) the idea is that people in general will go to almost any length to hold onto a cherished belief, no matter how strong the evidence against it is, and no matter how irrational the attempt to do so may seem (or actually be).   In a recent posting on his blog Ben Goldacre talks about a recent article in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology that focuses on this effect in cases where subjects dismiss well-founded scientific data that contradicts their beliefs.

While reading this discussion I kept returning in memory to a session I attended at ISSA a couple of weeks ago on deep disagreement. Two of the papers presented focused extensively on strategies for resolving deep disagreements.   David Zarefsky presented a battery of strategies none of which, interestingly, involved a direct attack on the belief(s) at the heart of the disagreement.  Manfred Kraus’s proposal was that deep disagreement be dealt with by “anti-logical” reasoning after the fashion of the Sophist, Protagoras.   I’m no expert on the Sophists but as I understood the paper Kraus seemed to be suggesting that in anti-logical reasoning it’s not so much the partisans of the contradictory views that work out their disagreement as it is the audience to the dispute, who act in the role of judge.

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ISSA 2010: A Note

So, about that “live from ISSA” thing…

Yeah, that kinda didn’t happen.  Perhaps it was the punishing heat, abnormal for Amsterdam at this time of year.  Perhaps it was jetlag.  It may even have been that the papers were so incredibly interesting that the poor writer’s brain simply collapsed under the strain at the end of each day.  Or it might have been bewitchment at the charm and beauty of this famous city.  Perhaps it was all of these. We will never know.  All that can be done at this point is to beg the good reader’s indulgence.  It was rather more challenging to find the time to write than I expected.

Prior to coming here I had heard many things about what to expect, and it turns out that all of the nice things I heard were true.  The Dutch are friendly and relaxed, the cafes are excellent, and the city truly is beautiful by day and by night, offering enough history, art, and architecture to make one wonder just why there is so much activity in that one part of town, anyway.  The city certainly deserves to be on everyone’s travel agenda.  It is lovely.

ISSA too, was pleasant and highly rewarding.  I spent most of my time over the three days in sessions on rationality and reasonableness and argument schemes. I  heard quite a few interesting papers. I may write about some of them later here once I’ve had time to sit down, look over my notes, and think through them again. In addition to the papers, there were a great many conversations, at lunch and at receptions and informal gatherings too at which I learned a good deal.  These, in addition to being remarkably pleasant despite the heat, and a testament to the fundamental good will of argumentation theorists generally, were often as enlightening as the sessions themselves.

All in all it was a great conference in a fine city.  With any luck I’ll be able to make a return trip in 2012. That is, of course, provided the Aztec god doesn’t jump out of the Mexican jungle and devour the world before then.  It would be a shame if that did happen.  Those pancakes really are fantastic. 🙂

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