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Posts Tagged ‘Maurice Finocchiaro’

OSSA 2011 is now officially in the bag.  It was a good week. With such a high volume of papers presented it’s possible to follow many trajectories, but these were my highlights:

The Ambassador Bridge

  • Attending a pre-conference workshop on normative pragmatics with Jean Goodwin and Beth Innocenti. Jean and Beth did a fantastic job explaining their views and those of Fred Kauffeld, with whom I was also fortunate enough to chat with at length. Even having known something of these views before, I left considerably enriched for the experience, and convinced that normative pragmatics is a research program that deserves a lot more investigation and development.
  • Discourse analyst Karen Tracy’s keynote address on reasonable hostility in public hearings was also rich with ideas that I intend to think a lot more about in the coming weeks–especially her conception of how issues move through phases of being unarguable (unreflectively taken as settled), arguable (manifestly unsettled or controversial) and then unarguable again (settled sufficiently for the public discussion to move on).  This is not to say that the other keynotes were not also worthwhile–they were. Paul Thagard’s effort to bring a neuropsychological viewpoint to the discussion over the nature of critical thinking was timely, and David Hitchcock’s presentation of his work on inference claims was as interesting and challenging as those who know his work would expect it to be. (You can read the abstracts of the keynotes here.)
  • Having the chance both to attend Maurice Finocchiaro’s session on deep disagreement and to chat with him about it afterwards was illuminating.  As readers of this blog will know, deep disagreement is one of my areas of interest within argumentation theory. Finocchiaro’s work, which will be part of a forthcoming book on meta-argumentation, moves the discussion of deep disagreement forward in what I think are all the right ways.  I’m very glad he’s taken the problem on in the way that he has.
  • Of course I have to thank the wonderful audience that attended my presentation on the history of conductive argument and reflective equilibrium as well. We had an excellent discussion from which I learned much that I will bear in mind as I carry forward my work on this and other projects.

Finally, no discussion of an OSSA conference would be complete without mention of the enormous camaraderie and good will that animates these events.  Coming away from this iteration of OSSA I am reminded of my initial impression that the argumentation community models what I think are scholarly ideals of diversity of approach, internationality and interdisciplinarity.  Of course, we have our divisions and competitive moments just like any other body of scholars.  This is only natural among diverse people who care deeply about what they study and who struggle to get it right.  What is impressive about argumentation theory is that these divisions enliven the discussions rather than hamper them.  In many ways, these gatherings are as much gatherings of friends as they are academic gatherings. Thus, though I won’t try the reader’s patience with a long list of names, I will close this entry by saying how glad I am to have had the chance to catch up with so many old friends, and to have made so many new ones. All in all, it was a week well spent. I look forward to the next one.

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