Friday, 8:00 – The White Ribbon

Folks who were still up to intellectual challenges after today’s talks were in for a treat at a/perture cinema tonight: a premiere screening of director Michael Haneke’s latest film, The White Ribbon, winner of the Palme D’Or at Cannes this year. The viewing was followed by a discussion with Peter Brunette, director of the film studies program at Wake Forest, who has recently published a book on the work of the controversial Austrian filmmaker.

The White Ribbon is a black and white drama, set in a small German village in the years before World War I,  and will be showing at a/perture  cinema all throughout the week.

Friday’s Reception

Friday festivities! Following morning and afternoon panels/workshops, speakers and guests gather for refreshments in the old law library. More later.

Friday, 3:30 – How to study interpersonal arguing


Workshop: How to Study Interpersonal Arguing
Dale Hample and Ioana A. Cionea, University of Maryland
305 Carswell Hall

The first part of the workshop was a very good introduction to both the area of interpersonal arguing and to the quantitative approach in studying that field. One of the central elements of the discussion was the model of message production – why do people say what they say? Usually outside observers can delineate a situation and the production of a message (argument), but there is an invisible process that takes place inside the individual’s mind, getting them from the situation to the message. A complete account of the process would be:

Situation –> Construals –> Situation-Action-Association –> Action-Consequence-Association –> Message

Construals are influenced by our predispositions and frames, and usually refer to:

  • Goals: they motivate us and are indispensable to any action
  • Appraisals: acknowledging our goals and our desires to reach them
  • Climate: there is not a clear, finite set; a certain climate enhances certain responses and discourages others
  • Engagement: a sum of all of the above

Situation-Action-Association (SAA) refers to nascent plans, ways of acting that have entered into our habitual and that usually come to mind in certain situations.

Action-Consequence-Association (ACA) refers to the process whereby actions are tested against the consequences and compared to our goals before we start them.

Both SAA and ACA are influenced by certain Repertoires and Plans, memory organization patterns for behaving in certain contexts. Over the years our plans and repertoires improve and every time we make a decision regarding a specific message we perform a smaller or larger number of cycles through the SAA and ACA (depending on the stakes).

Making the transition from this model to one that would fit an interpersonal interaction raises certain challenges, such as the fact that predispositions (traits) often become a secondary predictor of the message that is produced.

The last part of the workshop session tried to address some of those challenges and saw the audience engage in a lively discussion on the possibility of measuring participant states (and not simply just traits) in the attempt to get a closer look at the way the actual message production mechanism works in interpersonal arguing situations.

The workshop ended with a quick glance at the plan for Saturday’s session: design a questionnaire study, understand what kind of research questions can be used in a survey study and look at the way a quantitative and a qualitative study could be set up for taking a closer look at various aspects of interpersonal arguing.

Friday, 1:45 – Corroborative evidence, presumptive argumentation and conductive reasoning

1:45-3:15 Panel 2

Annenberg Forum, Carswell Hall

Chair: Bart Garssen, University of Amsterdam

David Godden, Old Dominion University, ‘Corroborative Evidence’

László I. Komlósi, University of Pécs, Hungary, ‘Presumptive Argumentation Giving Rise to Meta-Argumentative Maneuvering Supervening Normative Pragmatics’

Frank Zenker, Lund University, Sweden, ‘Deduction, Induction, Conduction: An Attempt at Unifying Natural Language Argument Structure’

1st speaker: Godden, David M., Old Dominion University

Corroborative Evidence

Corroborative evidence can have a dual function in argument. First it can provide direct evidence supporting the main conclusion, and second it can bolster the value of some other piece of evidence. This dual character can over value a piece of evidence and lead to the fallacy of double counting.

Convergent Corroborative Arguments: First a corroborating reason strengthens the main conclusion by providing an independent reason for the main conclusion, second it also increases the strength of at least one other reason in the argument.

Walton (2008) defines Premise Support as corroborating argument supports one premise of the original argumentand clarifies that in a Corroboration Scheme each piece of evidence should have its own argumentation scheme.

Convergent corroborative evidence gives direct support while supportive corroborative evidence supports the inferential link between corroborated evidence and the primary conclusion.

Redmayne (200) argues that the fallacy of double counting over-values and therefore a subtraction must occur.

Godden argues that the bolstering effect is legitimate, and can be explained by recourse to inference to the best explanation.

His example from Elgin (2005) in rebuttal involves a group of independent but individually unreliable witnesses all give substantially the same account of an event. While we should discount any one an explanation of the concurrence of all must be found.

2nd speaker: Laszlo I. Komlosi, University of Pecs, Hungary

Presumptive Argumentation Giving Rise to Meta-Argumentative Maneuvering Supervening Normative Pragmatics

Dual challenge to the  traditional idea of presumptive reasoning (PR) based upon the burden of proof: first, PR is a paradigm in assessing the expectations of others, however, second PR schemes can simultaneously destabilize certainties…leading to meta-argumentative rules of maneuvering.

Offers the removal of the English national soccer team captain. Three moral claims:

  1. Claim 1: The man who lacks morals cannnot lead the team.
  2. Claim 2: The man who has committed adultery should not be soccer team captain.
  3. Claim 3: The man whose adultery has become publicly known should not be captain.

As the case aged other information complicated the story; Terry tried to block the story with an injunction against the tabloid that published the account. Is this a cultural response against Terry?

Komolosi then provides a long list of of headlines from the press.

The presentation then shifts to an example of political campaign promises that are not kept. This discrepancy often does not prove detrimental to the party.

Komolosi offers three presumptions in a dialogue between a current prime minister (CPM) and a former prime minister (FPM), within the context of a pre-electoral debate:

  1. CPM asserts: citizens compare achievements to the previous government
  2. FMP asserts: people vote by looking at their current difficulties and weighing future prospects
  3. CPM asserts: the discrepancy regarding politician’s promises and actions after election is simply a fact of life.

Each side has a tacit agreement not to advertise the above assumptions.

A dialogue shift might occur if the CPM initiates a presumption that the speeches of politicians consist in keeping promising to the people.

3rd speaker:Zenker, Frank, Lund University, Sweden

Deduction, Induction, Conduction: An Attempt at Unifying Natural Language Argument Structure

Are the three Deduction, Induction, Conduction distinct?

For Conductive Structure the Abstract properties of natural arguments (not their contents), reconstructable such that:

  1. Pro-reasons and counter-considerations …partially ordered on some scale introduce notion of comparative importance
  2. Pro-reasons confer positive and con-reasons negative support to the conclusion or some group element
  3. On balance principle

Zenker’s Criteria for distinguishing Deduction, Induction, Conduction type structures

1) Comparative difference between informational content of premise-set vis s vis conclusion

2) Dynamic behavior of support relation between premises and conclusion under p-revision.


  • support relation = argumentative strength of justificatory force;
  • dynamic behavior = effect suffered by this support relation upon premise retraction or addition;
  • premises & conclusion = natural language sentences & their (descriptive or normative) contents.

he then details with formula the three types types

  1. deductive
  2. inductive
  3. conductive

He then provides example of each and then proposes a Two Step “Reduction”

Step 1: Generate inductive structure from conductive one: Range of assignable weights constrained from R+ to constant value

Step 2: Generate the deductive structure from the inductive one: informational content of the conclusion reduced  by a supplied formula

He then suggests three evaluative criteria (weight difference, non zero weight assignment, differentiability).

Friday, 11:00 – Presumptions and the burden of proof

11:00-12:00 Panel 1 – An Overview and Conversation: Presumptions and Burdens of Proof: An Anthology

DeTamble Auditorium, Tribble Hall

Chair and Respondent:Frank Zenker, Lund University, Sweden

Hans V. Hansen, University of Windsor, Canada, ‘The Early History of Presumptions and Burdens’

Fred J. Kauffeld, Edgewood College, Wisconsin, ‘Modern Developments regarding Presumptions and Burdens of Proof’

The first panel of the day, facilitated by Frank Zenker, from Lund University, focused on the concept of burden of proof, its historical context and potential developments.

Hans Hansen, from the University of Windsor, gave a concise overview of an Early History of Presumptions and Burdens, referring to issues such as:

  • Behtam’s distinction between legal and natural presumption;
  • Whately’s support for certain presumptions, such as that of innocence until proven guilty, private over public ownership, or supporting the status quo;
  • Sidgwick’s distinction between the burden of proof and the need of proof (that is “requested” by the audience);
  • Thayer’s understanding of burden of proof as having a role that is both a proactive (when supporting a proposition) and a reactive (when arguing against a proposition);
  • Ilbert’s suggestion that natural presumptions are based on experiences, whereas legal presumptions ought to be based on factual evidence.

Hansen’s conclusion pointed out the ambiguity of “presumption” and the lack of a coherent understanding of how burden of proof should work.

Fred Kauffeld, from Edgewood College, expanded on this last point in his presentation on Modern Developments regarding Presumptions and Burdens of Proof, by arguing in favor of a better organization and systematization of our knowledge and an understanding of burden of proof as an obligation in every field (not just in the legal field). Drawing on arguments from Thomas Goodnight, Kauffeld also suggested that we often make the mistake of supposing that presumptions are always in favor of the status quo, when in fact presumptions operating in public discourse rely in a combination of principles (respect for the past, aesthetic, political etc.). Work is still needed to provide a common ground for the various perspectives that account for the burden of proof in a certain field (political, sociological, anthropological etc.)

The Q&A section near the end of the panel engaged the audience in a discussion on issues such as the challenges of understanding the burden of proof in a field such as medicine (which is not an explicit two-party system, unlike the legal one), or working with presumptions as narratives in trying to understand a certain reasoning (such as that of a member of a jury when making up their minds).

Over and out (to lunch).

Friday, 9:30 – An Appreciation of ‘Backing’ in Toulmin’s Model

9:30-10:45 Keynote Address 1

Lenore Langsdorf, Southern Illinois University, ‘Argumentation as Contextual Logic: An Appreciation of ‘Backing’ in Toulmin’s Model’

DeTamble Auditorium, Tribble Hall

Lenore Langsdorf from Southern Illinois University has just started her presentation, Argumentation as contextual logic. The first part dealt with the context in which Toulmin called for a “radical reordering of logic theory,” turning away from a binary logic and an early positivist-like framework of certainty, as was setup by Descartes. What Toulmin identified as the “Cartesian program” rested on three assumptions:

  1. that knowledge is a possession of the individual
  2. that our cognition produces ideas that represent actual events
  3. that knowledge takes the form of a deductive system with demonstrably certain components

Toulmin subsequently argued that the third assumption should be abandoned and that reasoning is a communicative activity, rather than a mechanistic one, and that the proper space for argument is not one that is similar to mathematics (a rigid system), but rather rhetoric (one that allows for dialogue). The second assumption is also not a realistic one (even though we expect to see only the facts when we watch the news); any perception should accommodate the modifications that are inescapable in a representation process.  Toulmin found the first assumption to be the most difficult to counterargument, but one that was nevertheless counterproductive to the argumentation process. All knowledge is, ultimately, culturally and socially situated.

Thus, the first section of the presentation set up the ground nicely for making the case for backing, one of the elements of Toulmin’s model of argument that is often times ignored, but that accounts for why an audience should consider the warrants of an argument in the first place.

More later.