What can rhetoric tell us about good arguments? The answer depends on what we mean by “good argument” and on how we conceive rhetoric. In this article I examine and further develop Jürgen Habermas’s argumentation theory as an answer to the question—or as I explain, an expanded version of that question. Habermas places his theory in the family of normative approaches that recognize (at least) three evaluative perspectives on all argument making: logic, dialectic, and rhetoric, which proponents loosely align with (...) the three dimensions of product, procedure, and process, respectively (cf. Wenzel 1990; Tindale 1999). Habermas wants to integrate these perspectives in a conception of cogent argumentation that dispels .. (shrink)
By linking the conceptual and social dynamics of change in science, Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions proved tremendously fruitful for research in science studies. But Kuhn’s idea of incommensurability provoked strong criticism from philosophers of science. In this essay I show how Raimo Tuomela’s Philosophy of Sociality illuminates and strengthens Kuhn’s model of scientific change. After recalling the central features and problems of Kuhn’s model, I introduce Tuomela’s approach. I then show (a) how Tuomela’s conception of group ethos aligns with (...) Kuhn’s notion of paradigms as group commitments, and (b) how Tuomela’s distinction between I-mode and we-mode forms of collective intentionality can capture the shifting paradigmatic commitments in Kuhn’s model of change as a cycle of normal and revolutionary science. But Tuomela’s analysis does not rely on meaning holism, and thus does not involve the problematic notion of incommensurability that burdened Kuhn’s analysis. (shrink)
Science advisory committees exercise complex collaborative expertise. Not only do committee members collaborate, they do so across disciplines, producing expert reports that make synthetic multidisciplinary arguments. When reports are controversial, critics target both report content and committee process. Such controversies call for the assessment of expert arguments, but the multidisciplinary character of the debate outstrips the usual methods developed by informal logicians for assessing appeals to expert authority. This article proposes a multi-dimensional contextualist framework for critical assessment and tests it (...) with a case study of the controversies over reports issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The case study shows (1) how the critical contextualist framework can illuminate the controversy and guide evaluation of the various arguments and counterarguments; (2) how cases of this sort open up avenues for fruitful interdisciplinary collaboration between argumentation theorists and other fields; and (3) where further work is required in argumentation theory. (shrink)
In the literature on scientific practices, one finds sustained analyses of the contextualist elements of inquiry. However, the ways in which local and disciplinary contexts of practice function as common goods remain largely unexplored. In this paper I argue that a contextualist analysis of scientific practices as common goods can shed light on the challenges of scientific communication and interdisciplinary collaboration, albeit without invoking Kuhn's problematic notion of incommensurability.
If arguments are to generate public knowledge, as in the sciences, then they must travel, finding acceptance across a range of local contexts. But not all good arguments travel, whereas some bad arguments do. Under what conditions may we regard the capacity of an argument to travel as a sign of its cogency or public merits? This question is especially interesting for a contextualist approach that wants to remain critically robust: if standards of cogency are bound to local contexts of (...) evaluation, then how may arguments legitimately travel at all? The key to a contextualist conception of cogent travel, I argue, lies in the way local contexts are linked to broader contexts of evaluation by relations of relevance. The burden of the article is to elaborate the different forms these relations can take in the travel of scientific arguments. (shrink)
: For philosophers of science interested in elucidating the social character of science, an important question concerns the manner in which and degree to which the objectivity of scientific knowledge is socially constituted. We address this broad question by focusing specifically on philosophical theories of evidence. To get at the social character of evidence, we take an interdisciplinary approach informed by categories from argumentation studies. We then test these categories by exploring their applicability to a case study from high-energy physics. (...) Our central claim is that normative philosophy of science must move beyond abstract theories of justification, confirmation, or evidence conceived impersonally and incorporate a theoretical perspective that includes dialogical elements, either as adjuncts to impersonal theories of evidence or as intrinsic to the cogency of scientific argumentation. (shrink)
This article proposes a way of connecting two levels at which scholars have studied discursive practices from a normative perspective: on the one hand, local transactions-face-to-face arguments or dialogues-and broadly dispersed public debates on the other. To help focus my analysis, I select two representatives of work at these two levels: the pragmadialectical model of critical discussion and Habermas's discourse theory of politicallegal deliberation. The two models confront complementary challenges that arise from gaps between their prescriptions and contexts of actual (...) discourse. In response, I propose a theory of argument cogency that distinguishes three kinds of merit: content, transactional, and public. Normative links between the two levels arise through the ways argument contents spread across multiple transactions in a social space whose structure and composition favor collective reasonableness. (shrink)
Recent proposals for computer-assisted argumentation have drawn on dialectical models of argumentation. When used to assist public policy planning, such systems also raise questions of political legitimacy. Drawing on deliberative democratic theory, we elaborate normative criteria for deliberative legitimacy and illustrate their use for assessing two argumentation systems. Full assessment of such systems requires experiments in which system designers draw on expertise from the social sciences and enter into the policy deliberation itself at the level of participants.
Contemporary critical theorists working in the Frankfurt School tradition have focused considerable attention on theories of deliberative democracy, which in general attempt to show how public argumentation can be both democratic and reasonable. In this context, political questions that involve or depend on science present an acute challenge, inasmuch as deliberation must meet especially demanding epistemic requirements. In this article, the author examines two past responses to the challenge, each of which failed to reconcile reasonableness and democracy: that of the (...) scientists involved in policymaking in the 1940s in the United States, and that of Herbert Marcuse and the New Left in the 1960s. Both the scientists and Marcuse depended on general models of science-in-society that ultimately led them into elitist modes of argumentation. The author concludes by drawing some lessons for an interdisciplinary, argumentation-theoretic approach to science-related public argumentation. /// Pensadores críticos contemporâneos trabalhando dentro da tradição da Escola de Frankfurt prestaram considerável atenção a teorias sobre a democracia deliberativa, as quais em geral procuram mostrar até que ponto a argumentação pública pode ser simultaneamente democrática e razoável. Neste contexto, questões políticas que involvem ou dependem da ciência apresentam um sério desafio, tanto mais que a deliberação deve satisfazer requisitos epistémicos particularmente exigentes. No presente artigo, o autor examina duas respostas que no passado foram dadas a este desafio, cada uma das quais foi incapaz de reconciliar razoabilidade e democracia: a dos cientistas involvidos no desenho de políticas concretas durante os anos 40 nos Estados Unidos, e a de Herbert Marcuse e a Nova Esquerda durante os anos 60. Tanto os cientistas como Marcuse estavam dependentes de modelos genéricos de ciência-nasociedade os quais em última análise os conduziram a modelos elitistas de argumentação. O autor conclui extraindo algumas lições pertinentes para uma abordagem interdisciplinar, argumentativa e teorética à questão da ciência em sua relação com a argumentação pública. (shrink)
This article examines two approaches to the analysis and critical assessment of scientific argumentation. The first approach employs the discourse theory that Jurgen Habermas has developed on the basis of his theory of communicative action and applied to the areas of politics and law. Using his analysis of law and democracy in his Between Facts and Norms (1996) as a kind of template, I sketch the main steps in a Habermasian discourse theory of science. Difficulties in his approach motivate my (...) proposal of an alternative approach that starts not with a theory of communicative action but with some broad categories drawn from argumentation theory. Using these categories, one can survey the various conceptions of scientific argumentation that have already emerged in the multi-disciplinary field of science studies. The more flexible, open-ended theoretic categories put one in a better position to'develop cooperative interdisciplinary studies that can inform the critical assessment of scientific argumentation. (shrink)
In his Reflection Revisited, James Swindal interprets Habermas's formal pragmatics as recasting the traditional philosophy of reflection in intersubjective, augmentation-theoretic terms. In this review essay, I consider some aspects of Swindal's interpretation for situated moral criticism. I focus in particular on Swindal's claim that moral discourse must be preceded by meta-discourses in which actors discuss issues related to the initiation of moral discourse. Although I reject Swindal's arguments for the necessity of such meta-discourses, I provide further arguments for (...) their theoretical possibility and practical desirability for a contextualized critical social theory. Key Words: critical theory formal pragmatics Habermas moral discourse reflection theory of communicative action. (shrink)
This article asks whether an interdisciplinary "critical science studies" (CSS) is possible between a critical theory in the Frankfurt School tradition, with its commitment to universal standards of reason, and relativistic sociologies of scientific knowledge (e.g., David Bloor's strong programme). It is argued that CSS is possible if its practitioners adopt the epistemological equivalent of Rawls's method of avoidance. A discriminating, public policyrelevant critique of science can then proceed on the basis of an argumentation theory that employs an immanent standard (...) of relevance, which is illustrated by drawing on Helen Longino's critique of behavioral theory. (shrink)
According to the standard version of discourse ethics (e.g. as formulated by Apel, Habermas, and others), the objectivity of moral norms resides in their intersubjective acceptability under idealized conditions of discourse. These accounts have been criticized for not taking sufficient account of contextual particularities and the realities of actual discourse. This essay addresses such objections by proposing a more realistic, contextualist 'principle of real moral discourse' (RMD). RMD is derived from a more comprehensive concept of objectivity that links intersubjective objectivity (...) with a factual objectivity based in features of social conflicts and the moral problems they pose. To clarify RMD and make this approach more plausible, a number of theoretical and practical questions are addressed concerning the notions of reasonability and inclusivity entailed by RMD. (shrink)
Central to the discourse ethics advanced by Jürgen Habermas is a principle of universalization (U) amounting to a dialogical equivalent of Kant's Categorical Imperative. Habermas has proposed that ?U? follows by material implication from two premises: (1) what it means to discuss whether a moral norm ought to be . adopted and (2) what those involved in argumentation must suppose of themselves if they are to consider a consensus they reach as rationally motivated. To date, no satisfactory derivation of ?U? (...) from these two premises has been presented. Thus the present study attempts to show how one can, without begging the question, arrive at ?U? by assuming a suitable explication of these two premises, supplemented with a fairly innocuous assumption about the context of discourse. If the argument is sound, then ?U? brings both deontological and consequentialist intuitions together with a notion of solidarity that requires an intersubjective account of insight. (shrink)