The 13th Argumentation Conference is now officially over. Thanks to all the participants and the organization team.
Keynote Address 4
Carole Blair and William Balthrop, University of North Carolina
“Voice, Imagination, and Argument in Commemorative Sites: Fleury-devant-Douaumont”
Annenberg Forum, Carswell Hall
Commemorative sites of war are exemplars of the political collective response to triumph, defeat, unity, disunity, sacrifice etc.
The most often encountered critique of commemorative sites is that they cannot justifying, sanitizing or aestheticizing the war.
To aestheticize may mean:
Fleury-devant-Douaumont is one of the 9 destroyed villages in the Verdun region in France during World War I (villages designated “Morts Pour la France”).
What does the preservation of such a site mean?
The rhetoric of Fleury-devant-Douaumont opposes a sanitization of the war
The Battle of Verdun can hardly be called a victory, even if it was not a loss
The 9 villages received military decorations; they each have a mayor and hold annual commemorations. Each of the 9 villages has a small mourning chapel and a Monument-aux-Morts. There are, however, differences between the villages: the extent to which they commemorate individuals or the ammount of “relics.”
How can it represent war without aestheticization? Fleury forces the visitor to imagine the not has happened.
Bizzare topography, even with the restoration of flora. A deeply wounded terrain. It is hardly imaginable as a result of a natural process.
Fleury’s three main streets were remapped recently, and markers of the church, blacksmith shop, town hall or the school were set throughout the place.
We can only imagine the destruction and the horrors of the war.
The chapel is tiny, but it has all the elements of a church. The monument is the same size as other monuments. They stand out because they are ordinary, but the setting is anything but ordinary.
Its remmaping implies the counter-factual: Fleury as if it had not been destroyed. Fleury has not been truly brought back to life.
It is impossible to imagine Fleury being destroyed without imagining Fleury not being destroyed or before being destroyed.
What can Fleury teach us, in its silence, about war comemoration? Its landscape is ugly and the placement of its markers portrays the war as destructive, even though the village is worthy of honor. Visitors are invited to attend not only the destruction, but also what was destroyed. That is Fleury’s rhetorical power.
DeTamble Auditorium, Tribble Hall
Linda Petrou, Wake Forest University
Scott Stroud, University of Texas
‘Mindful Argument, Deweyan Pragmatism, and Democracy’
Gordon R. Mitchell, University of Pittsburgh
‘Useful Frictions: Revisiting Rationales for Public Debate in a Sorted Society’
Frans H. van Eemeren and Bart Garssen, University of Amsterdam
‘Strategic Maneuvering in the European Parliament: Choosing the Line of Defense in Arguing for a Complex Audience’
1st Speaker: Scott Stroud, University of Texas
Mindful Argument, Deweyan Pragmatism, and Democracy
For Dewey democracy is not reduced to the process of voting, but a personal way of life. Individuals have a share and need to participate in the group they are belonging to, according to the group’s needs. At the same time, groups ought to interact harmoniously, in order to allow individuals to flourish by taking part in a variety of actions and acting accordingly with a variety of motivations.
There is also a differentiation between association and community:
Three models of arguers:
A non-mindful argument is one that non-mindfully engages the present, i.e. it does not fall pray to the temptation of separating the present from the past/future and elevating the past/future.
2nd Speaker: Gordon R. Mitchell, University of Pittsburgh
Useful Frictions: Revisiting Rationales for Public Debate in a Sorted Society
The rationale for public debates in the 1930s seems to echo in today’s rationale for public debates: the “more speech” remedy (speaking more about issues is the best way to “disinfect” ideas). What we see a lot today, however, is that additional rounds of dialogue prompt dynamic shifts, rather than content shifts.
The big sort: “a clustering of like-minded America is tearing us apart.” Homogeneous groups interactions tend to exacerbate violence, to polarize opinions and encourage individual to adopt more extreme versions of their existing opinions.
One example is the increasing percentage of “landslide counties” (>20% in presidential elections):
If we look at Internet interactions, we can see that people are looking for echoing opinions (opinion cascading & group polarization). Groups of like-minded people will think the same, but more extreme. The harm done by frictionless spectacles (political talk-shows in the media) thus becomes apparent. Internet functions as an intellectual cul-de-sac.’
Sunstein proposes a correction in what he calls “cognitive infiltration of extremist groups”: government agents or allies openly or anonymously induce uncertainty within extremist groups.
A better solution to solve the problem of cognitive dissonance can be found in the example of students who participate in public debate from the perspective of a risk-taking, opinion-forming position. Public debate frees debaters from the clock restrictions (more generous preparation time) and allows them to genuinely engage in opinion-forming dialogue.
“Debate can clear the atmosphere.”
3rd speaker: Frans H. van Eemeren and Bart Garssen, University of Amsterdam
Strategic Maneuvering in the European Parliament: Choosing the Line of Defense in Arguing for a Complex Audience
Debates in EU Parliament (EUP) are not as interesting as those in national parliaments from the media’s perspective.
Strategic maneuvering within the context of EUP is preconditioned by institutional regulations, but also by the pursuit of specific interests of political groups. Often times this calls for the use of pragmatic argumentation.
Craig Allen Smith, North Carolina State University
J. Anthony Blair, University of Windsor, Canada
‘The Ethics of Argumentation’
Guiding question: Are there moral norms associated with the activity of argumentation?
(1) moral normativity
(3) non-moral normativity
We are all familiar with roles in communication (e.g., the repeator, the hog, the interrupter, the open-door pusher). These people don’t exhibit moral failings, they exhibit lack of etiquette.
One metaphor to ethics in argumentation may be the moral norms of business and medical ethics (e.g., beneficence)
Argumentation is a purposeful activity premised on achieving some objective.
In argumentation it is unethical to use grounds you believe to be false, unethical to deliberately impy fallacious arguments and unethical to deliberately overstate the epistemic standing of your claims.
John Poulakos, University of Pittsburgh
‘The Adversaries, the Discussants, and the Disappointed Lover: Three Dramatic Modes of Argument in Plato’
Guiding issue: Well known antagonism between philosophy of rhetoric.
We should read the ways in which Plato displays arguments in action, rather than his more direct statements about argumentation. Plato can be read in two ways:
(1) As a straight laced logician interested in rationality of arguments
(2) As a playwright concerned with the integrity of story
Regardless of how we read him, Plato can also be read in one of two modes:
(1) Within (i.e., within a single work)
(2) Across (i.e., a single theme treated throughout several or all works)
Studies of Plato today highlight two works only, the Gorgias and Phaedrus. This is a confined approach to examining Plato’s understandings of philosophy and rhetoric. Plato is too expansive to be confined to two works, moreover how he deals with rhetoric extends far beyond merely the Gorgias and Phaedrus.
Three works (Gorgias, Protagorus, and Symposium), taken consecutively, explicate rhetoric in action.
In reading these texts as demonstrations, (1) dialectical argumentation has its limitations, (2) “good discussion” is when cooperation leads to satisfaction and dissatisfaction for both sides of discussion (rather than traditional agonism, which indicates one winner and one loser), and (3) Plato’s argument as merely to destroy rhetoric is severely limited.
David Coates, Wake Forest University
‘Answering Back: Liberal Responses to Conservative Arguments’
Discusses recent book, “Answering Back,” its form, content, and critical conversation in which it is a part.
(1) Format: a living, democratic, fighting book.
What is a living book? A book and blog whose author regularly updates and recontextualizes chapters in book with emergent data. What is a democratic book? Represents the liberal responses and conservative alternatives of genuine bipartisanship, raising the quality of political debate. What is a fighting book? Outlines the many resources needed to defend in 2010 the progressive political space won in 2008.
If simple terms speak to the American public (evidenced by corporate and financial support in the public sector, such as Fox News), how do we (i.e., liberalism, political progressivism) communicate complex ideas in simple terms?
Theoretical work in rhetoric and argumentation are absolutely necessary to public debate.
‘Impacting Argumentation Studies’
Annenberg Forum, Carswell Hall
Carol Winkler gave a presentation on the importance and potential impact of the field of humanities on the general education of middle school students and on society. Drawing from the results of an urban league debate program implemented in middle school, the presentation made the case for defending the relevance of humanistic education within a context that increasingly challenges it.
How do we present the value of our field to the outside world? A model may be offered by a program that has had quantifiable beneficial effects on school performance and attendance, has been acknowledged by local and national administrative actors and has managed to bring together two seemingly different areas of education (competitive debate and “drop-out students”).
Step 1: Address societal problems
Step 2: Identify key partners committed to addressing the problem
Step 3: Identify and include partners’ values when constructing your research agencies
Step 4: Present research findings in ways readily accessible to the audience
Step 5: Have those impacted validates the results
Step 6: Have partners testify about your effectiveness and the results of the program
Step 7: Present your research to decision-makers concerned about your identified problem