It has been a decade since the phrase virtue argumentation was introduced, and while it would be an exaggeration to say that it burst onto the scene, it would be just as much of an understatement to say that it has gone unnoticed. Trying to strike the virtuous mean between the extremes of hyperbole and litotes, then, we can fairly characterize it as a way of thinking about arguments and argumentation that has steadily attracted more and more attention from argumentation (...) theorists. We hope it is neither too late for an introduction to the field nor too soon for some retrospective assessment of where things stand. (shrink)
Virtue argumentation theory provides the best framework for accommodating the notion of an argument that is “fully satisfying” in a robust and integrated sense. The process of explicating the notion of fully satisfying arguments requires expanding the concept of arguers to include all of an argument’s participants, including judges, juries, and interested spectators. And that, in turn, requires expanding the concept of an argument itself to include its entire context.
Orthodox decision theory gives no advice to agents who hold two goods to be incommensurate in value because such agents will have incomplete preferences. According to standard treatments, rationality requires complete preferences, so such agents are irrational. Experience shows, however, that incomplete preferences are ubiquitous in ordinary life. In this paper, we aim to do two things: (1) show that there is a good case for revising decision theory so as to allow it to apply non-vacuously to agents with incomplete (...) preferences, and (2) to identify one substantive criterion that any such non-standard decision theory must obey. Our criterion, Competitiveness, is a weaker version of a dominance principle. Despite its modesty, Competitiveness is incompatible with prospectism, a recently developed decision theory for agents with incomplete preferences. We spend the final part of the paper showing why Competitiveness should be retained, and prospectism rejected. (shrink)
One result of successful argumentation – able arguers presenting cogent arguments to competent audiences – is a transfer of credibility from premises to conclusions. From a purely logical perspective, neither dubious premises nor fallacious inference should lower the credibility of the target conclusion. Nevertheless, some arguments do backfire this way. Dialectical and rhetorical considerations come into play. Three inter-related conclusions emerge from a catalogue of hapless arguers and backfiring arguments. First, there are advantages to paying attention to arguers and their (...) contexts, rather than focusing narrowly on their arguments, in order to understand what can go wrong in argumentation. Traditional fallacy identification, with its exclusive attention to faulty inferences, is inadequate to explain the full range of argumentative failures. Second, the notion of an Ideal Arguer can be defined by contrast with her less than ideal peers to serve as a useful tool in argument evaluation. And third, not all of the ways that arguers raise doubts about their conclusions are pathological. On the contrary, some ways that doubts are raised concerning our intended conclusions are an integral part of ideal argumentative practice. (shrink)
Michael Smith has resisted Harry Frankfurt's claim that moral responsibility does not require the ability to have done otherwise. He does this by claiming that, in Frankfurt cases, the ability to do otherwise is indeed present, but is a disposition that has been `finked' or masked by other factors. We suggest that, while Smith's account appears to work for some classic Frankfurt cases, it does not work for all. In particular, Smith cannot explain cases, such as the Willing Addict, where (...) the Frankfurt devise - e.g. the addiction - is intrinsic to the agent. (shrink)
Virtue epistemology was modeled on virtue ethics theories to transfer their ethical insights to epistemology. VE has had great success: broadening our perspective, providing new answers to traditional questions, and raising exciting new questions. I offer a new argument for VE based on the concept of cognitive achievements, a broader notion than purely epistemic achievements. The argument is then extended to cognitive transformations, especially the cognitive transformations brought about by argumentation.
In this book, Daniel Cohen explores the connections between arguments and metaphors, most pronounced in philosophy because philosophical discourse is both thoroughly metaphorical and replete with argumentation. Cohen covers the nature of arguments, their modes and structures, and the principles of their evaluation, and addresses the nature of metaphors, their place in language and thought, and their connections to arguments, identifying and reconciling arguments' and metaphors' respective roles in philosophy.
In this paper we present an account of practical rationality and weakness of will in terms of rational capacities. We show how our account rectifies various shortcomings in Michael Smith's related theory. In particular, our account is capable of accommodating cases of weak-willed behaviour that are not `akratic', or otherwise contrary to the agent's better judgement. Our account differs from Smith's primarily by incorporating resolve: a third rational capacity for resolute maintenance of one's intentions. We discuss further two ways to (...) explain the importance of resolve to practical rationality: one based on Richard Holton's recent work, and an alternative, non-consequentialist account. (shrink)
Michael Smith attempts to solve the moral problem by arguing that our moral beliefs constitute a rational constraint on our desires. In particular, Smith defends the ‘practicality requirement’, which says that rational agents who believe that an action is right must have some desire to perform that action. We clarify and examine Smith’s argument. We argue that, for the argument to be sound, it must make two crucial assumptions about the rational agent in question: that facts about her desires are (...) transparent to her, and that she believes that she is rational. We conclude that if Smith has solved the moral problem then he has done so only for a restricted class of subjects—those who satisfy these two assumptions. (shrink)
The claim that argumentation has no proper role in either philosophy or education, and especially not in philosophical education, flies in the face of both conventional wisdom and traditional pedagogy. There is, however, something to be said for it because it is really only provocative against a certain philosophical backdrop. Our understanding of the concept "argument" is both reflected by and molded by the specific metaphor that argument-is-war, something with winners and losers, offensive and defensive moments, and an essentially adversarial (...) structure. Such arguments may be suitable for teaching a philosophy, but not for teaching philosophy. Surely, education and philosophy do not need to be conceived as having an adversarial essence-if indeed they are thought to have any essence at all. Accordingly, philosophy and education need more pragmatic goals than even Pierce's idealized notion of truth as the end of inquiry, e.g., the simple furtherance of inquiry. For this, new metaphors for framing and understanding the concept of argumentation are needed, and some suggestions in that direction will be considered. (shrink)
While deductive validity provides the limiting upper bound for evaluating the strength and quality of inferences, by itself it is an inadequate tool for evaluating arguments, arguing, and argumentation. Similar remarks can be made about rhetorical success and dialectical closure. Then what would count as ideal argumentation? In this paper we introduce the concept of cognitive compathy to point in the direction of one way to answer that question. It is a feature of our argumentation rather than my argument or (...) your argument. In that respect, compathy is like the harmonies achieved by an accomplished choir, the spontaneous coordination of athletic teamwork, or the experience of improvising jazz musicians when they are all in the flow together. It is a characteristic of arguments, not a virtue that can be attributed to individual arguers. It makes argumentation more than just the sum of its individual parts. The concept of cognitive compathy is brought into focus by locating it at the confluence of two lines of thought. First, we work up to the concept of compathy by contrasting it with empathy and sympathy in the context of emotions, which is then transplanted into epistemic, cognitive, and argumentative soil. Second, the concept is analytically linked to ideal argumentation by way of authenticity in communication. In the final section, we explore the extent to which argumentative virtues are conducive to producing compathetic argumentation, but reach the unhappy conclusion that the extra value of compathetic argumentation also transcends the evaluative reach of virtue argumentation theory. (shrink)
In this paper, I present a novel argument for scepticism about moral responsibility. Unlike traditional arguments, this argument doesn’t depend on contingent empirical claims about the truth or falsity of causal determinism. Rather, it is argued that the conceptual conditions of responsibility are jointly incompatible. In short, when an agent is responsible for an action, it must be true both that the action was non-accidental, and that it was open to the agent not to perform that action. However, as I (...) argue, an action is only non-accidental in those cases where it isn’t open to the agent not to perform it. (shrink)
This paper explores the outlines of a framework for evaluating arguments. Among the factors to take into account are the strength of the arguers' inferences, the level of their engagement with objections raised by other interlocutors, and their effectiveness in rationally persuading their target audiences. Some connections among these can be understood only in the context of meta-argumentation and meta-rationality. The Principle of Meta-Rationality (PMR)--that reasoning rationally includes reasoning about rationality-is used to explain why it can be rational to resist (...) dialectically satisfying arguments or accept logically flawed ones. (shrink)
If circumstances were always simple and all arguers were always exclusively concerned with cognitive improvement, arguments would probably always be cooperative. However, we have other goals and there are other arguers, so in practice the default seems to be adversarial argumentation. We naturally inhabit the heuristically helpful but cooperation-inhibiting roles of proponents and opponents. We can, however, opt for more cooperative roles. The resources of virtue argumentation theory are used to explain when proactive cooperation is permissible, advisable, and even mandatory (...) – and also when it is not. (shrink)
Technology has made argumentation rampant. We can argue whenever we want. With social media venues for every interest, we can also argue about whatever we want. To some extent, we can select our opponents and audiences to argue with whomever we want. And we can argue however we want, whether in carefully reasoned, article-length expositions, real-time exchanges, or 140-character polemics. The concepts of arguing, arguing well, and even being an arguer have evolved with this new multiplicity and diversity; theory needs (...) to catch up to the new reality. Successful strategies for traditional contexts may be counterproductive in new ones; classical argumentative virtues may be liabilities in new situations. There are new complications to the theorist’s standard questions—What is an argument? and Who is an arguer?—while new ones move into the spotlight—Should we argue at all? and If so, why? Agent-based virtue argumentation theory provides a unifying framework for this radical plurality by coordinated redefinitions of the concepts of good arguers and good arguments. It remains true that good arguers contribute to good arguments, and good arguments satisfy good arguers, but the new diversity strains the old unity. Ironically, a unifying factor is provided by examining those paragons of bad arguers, argument trolls whose contributions to arguments are not very good, not really contributions, and, ultimately, not genuine argumentation. (shrink)
It is sometimes argued that if God were to exist, then the actual world would be the best possible world. However, given that the actual world is clearly not the best possible world, then God doesn’t exist. In response, some have argued that the world could always be improved with the creation of new people and that there is thus no best possible world. I argue that this reasoning gives rise to an instance of Parfit’s mere addition paradox and should (...) thus be rejected. Others (Robert Adams, in particular) have argued that the actual world may, in fact, be the best possible world, at least for all actual people. I argue that this reasoning gives rise to Parfit’s non-identity problem and should thus be rejected. (shrink)
Psychological and neuroscientific data suggest that a great deal, perhaps even most, of our reasoning turns out to be rationalizing. The reasons we give for our positions are seldom either the real reasons or the effective causes of why we have those positions. We are not as rational as we like to think. A second, no less disheartening observation is that while we may be very effective when it comes to giving reasons, we are not that good at getting reasons. (...) We are not as reasons-responsive as we like to think. Reasoning and argumentation are, on this view, charades without effect. This paper begins by identifying a range of theoretical responses to the idea that reasoning and argumentation have little casual role in our thoughts and actions, and, consequently, that humans are not the reasons-giving, reasons-responsive agents that we imagine ourselves to be. The responses fall into three categories: challenging the data and their interpretations; making peace with the loss of autonomy that is implied; and seeking ways to expand the causal footprint of reasoning and argumentation, e.g., by developing argumentative virtues. There are indeed possibilities for becoming more rational and more reasons-responsive, so the reports of our demise as the rational animal are greatly exaggerated. (shrink)
In this essay we shall examine the contemporary jurisprudential thinking and legal precedents surrounding the issue of the sanctionability of pornography. We shall catalogue them by their logical presumptions, such as whether they view pornography as speech or act, whether they view pornography as obscenity, political hate-speech or anomalous other, whether they would scrutinize legislation governing pornography by a balancing of the harm of repression against the harm of permission, and who exactly they view as the victims.We shall take a (...) special interest in the most recent, but unsuccessful, attempt by a subgroup of feminists to proscribe pornography by treating it as neither political speech nor sexual speech but speech which causes harm which is both political and sexual. They would like it to be considered as a special kind of odious propaganda undeserving of protection because it promulgates a mental state conducive to criminal activity, and hence is criminal in and of itself. However, the repression of propaganda, even odious propaganda, is not so easily accomplished in this country. (shrink)
abstract Intuitively, all killings are equally wrong, no matter how old one's victim. In this paper we defend this claim — The Equal Wrongness of Killings Thesis — against a challenge presented by Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen. Lippert-Rasmussen shows The Equal Wrongness of Killings Thesis to be incompatible with two further theses: The Unequal Wrongness of Renderings Unconscious Thesis and The Equivalence Thesis. Lippert-Rasmussen argues that, of the three, The Equal Wrongness of Killings Thesis is the least defensible. He suggests that the (...) most convincing considerations apparently in favour of the Equal Wrongness thesis may be satisfied just as well if we adopt an alternative principle, a 'Prioritarian View' about the wrongness of killing. We argue that The Prioritarian View does not resolve the trilemma: it too is inconsistent with the other two theses. Instead, we argue, the most plausible resolution of the trilemma involves a rejection, rather, of The Unequal Wrongness of Renderings Unconscious Thesis. In its place, we offer an attractive principle that is compatible with both The Equal Wrongness of Killings Thesis as well as The Equivalence Thesis. (shrink)
Review: Agency and Responsibility: A Common-Sense Moral Psychology. Agency and Responsibility: A Common-Sense Moral Psychology Jeanette Kennett New York Oxford University Press 2001 viii + 229 Hardback US$45 By Jeanette Kennett. Oxford University Press. New York. Pp. viii + 229. Hardback:US$45.
Paul Boghossian’s recent book, Fear of Knowledge offers an extended argument against some forms of contemporary anti-realism and, by implication, an argument for realism. The intended audience is philosophers with metaphysical and epistemological interests, argumentation theorists might be most engaged by it because while the book is flawed as an argument, it makes a positive contribution when read as a discourse about argument. The main flaw is the uncharitable readings of Kuhn, Rorty, and Later Wittgenstein that can drive even wannabe (...) realists to their defense. The great contribution is delving deeply into the foundations of reason and rationality without getting caught in circularity, paradox, or regress. (shrink)
For all its problems, there is still much to be gleaned from the argument-is-war paradigm. Much of the conceptual vocabulary that we use to talk about wars is commonly applied to arguments. Other concepts in the war-cluster can also be readily adapted to arguments. Some parts, of course, do not seem to apply so easily, if at all. Of most interest here are those war-concepts that have not been deployed in thinking about arguments but really should be because of the (...) light they can shed on argumentation. In particular, the concepts, principles, and lessons from Just War theory provide a valuable lens for looking at arguments. We can theorize about Just and Unjust Arguments. Ultimately, however, the analogy between arguments and wars breaks down. There is a strong presumption against wars. There can be no such generic presumption against arguments. The argument against argument is always context-specific. Thus, wars need to be justified in ways that arguments do not. Conversely, sometimes it can be the failure to argue that needs to be justified, again, in ways that a failure to go to war would not. Even so, self-defense justifications, the special justifications for pre-emptive attacks, and the possible need for humanitarian interventions can all be appropriately imported into the discourse of argumentation. (shrink)
Are Keynesian policies doomed? The experience of both Chirac and Mauroy might make one think so. Yet too severe a judgment would overlook an important counter-example: the actual economic recovery in the United States. As happened under the Kennedy-Johnson administration 20 years ago, the United States is experiencing a recovery that follows the textbook precepts of Keynesianism: an increase in military spending and a decrease in taxes, all of which is accompanied by (as predicted by the theory) an increase in (...) the interest rate and the deficit. Yet, the 20-year gap that separates these two prime examples of American Keynesianism reveals an essential difference. At the beginning of the 1960s, Keynesianism was the dominant theory to which the Democratic administration referred. Now, in the mid-1980s, Keynesian theory is hidden. (shrink)
According to the semantics in Wittgenstein's Tractatus, a picture and what is pictured must have the same logical form. However necessary that may be, it cannot suffice to make one fact a picture of another. The grounds for the pictorial relation, it is argued, must be found in the transcendental will. Following a suggestion by Ramsey, the semantic resources of the Tractatus are used to construct a new interpretation of propositions as equivalence classes of facts. The nature of the involvement (...) of the will helps explain why ethics and logic are alike ineffable. (shrink)
This presentation seeks to understand informal logic as a set of methods for the logical evaluation of natural language arguments. Some of the methods identified are the fallacies method, deductivism, warrantism and argument schemes. A framework for comparing the adequacy of the methods is outlined consisting of the following categories: learner- and user-efficiency, subjective and objective reliability, and scope. Within this framework, it is also possible to compare informal and formal logic.
Steven m cahn, In the june 1987 issue of "analysis", Asks how a principled divesture of stocks is possible. Selling stock requires a buyer, So no net reduction of objectionable economic behavior results. Is divestiture merely self-Righteous cleansing of one's own hands? not necessarily. It is argued that divesture as a means to influence corporate behavior, And not just as a means to a clean portfolio, Can be justified.