Posts Tagged ‘TED’

Dan Cohen did a very nice TED talk on argumentation. If you haven’t seen it already, do check it out below!

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In this video Clay Shirky discusses how open source programmers channel social media technologies in ways that could, if thoughtfully and creatively adopted, bring about powerful changes in the way that democratic institutions work.  There are a number of features of this talk that should be of interest to argumentation theorists.  Students of pragma-dialectics and others who believe that disagreement is of central theoretical importance to argumentation theory, for instance, will find welcoming Shirky’s assertion that “The more ideas there are in circulation, the more ideas there are for any individual to disagree with. More media always means more arguing.”  Also of interest for those of us interested in the intersection between argumentation theory and democratic theory is Shirky’s account of how the method of distributed version control used by early open source programmers enabled “cooperation without [top-down] coordination”. Perhaps most interesting, though, is Shirky’s description that changes in media bring about cultural changes largely by introducing new modes of argument.

Whether one agrees with everything Shirky says here or not, it is hard to disagree with the fundamental intuition that I think  lies underneath his points:  that argumentation is the core technology of democracy, and that improving democracy means attending, carefully and critically, to the modes in which we argue.

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As anyone who has attended one of Erik Krabbe‘s talks knows, doodles, sketches, and cartoons are signs of great genius. I first had the pleasure of seeing his drawings in a CRRAR summer seminar a few years ago. I have to admit that being engaged by the various drawings he used there, and in the talks of his that I’ve had the good fortune to attend since then, has inspired me to re-incorporate that sort of visual element in my own classes. Being a former art major with a drawing background before converting to philosophy, I had used drawings as what I then thought of as a crutch when I first started teaching. I later abandoned the practice when I felt more secure in my role as a teacher. It turns out that I may have been terribly wrong to toss out such a powerful pedagogical tool. My drawings, it seems, were in no way a crutch. On the contrary, if Sunni Brown (the speaker in the video) is right, they are a pedagogical enhancement.  Not only are doodles often funny and engaging, she claims, but they enhance focus as well as other dimensions of critical thinking too.

While the pedagogical dimensions are interesting, equally if not more interesting is the claim that human beings may have an innate “sense” of visual literacy that develops in a regular and predictable way.  Those working on visual argumentation may find this part of the talk very salutary indeed.

All in all, it’s an interesting 6 minutes of video.  Enjoy.

Edit: Today this video popped up in my Twitter feed courtesy of @LilyLivingstone. It perfectly illustrates the pedagogical power of the doodle in mathematics. Good stuff!

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Jonathan Haidt, is a moral psychologist at the University of Virginia.  In this short talk he outlines what he takes to be the basic axes of human morality and describes, using his own research, how liberals and conservatives tend to line up on those axes.  His conclusion is an interesting one and one I think should be of interest to anyone working on political argumentation.

You can get more information about Haidt and his work at his website.

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