Saturday, 11:00 – Argumentation and Health

Panel 4
Argumentation and Health. Overcoming a Less-than-ideal Interactional Paradigm
DeTamble Auditorium, Tribble Hall

Frans van Eemeren, University of Amsterdam

Sara Rubinelli, Jerome Bickenbach and Gerold Stucki, University of Lucerne and Swiss Paraplegic Research, Nottwil, Switzerland
‘Realism and Nominalism: Argumentative Consilience in Doctor-Patient Communication’

Nancy Green, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
‘Biomedical Argumentation: The Challenge of Uncertainty’

Peter J. Schulz, Virginia Tech
Kent Nakamoto, Virginia Tech, University of Lugano
and Dima Mohammed, University of Amsterdam, Virginia Tech
‘Audience Adaptation in Direct-To-Consumer Advertising’

The common thread tying the presented papers in “Argumentation and Health: Overcoming a Less-than-Ideal Interactional Paradigm” is the lack in the medical field’s ability to communicate with patients (whether regarding diagnoses, treatments, etc). All seem to agree there needs to be more patient involvement, more patient education, and the need to fix the argumentation strategies when convincing patients of the best medical treatment available.

Nancy Green’s presentation focused on ways to combat uncertainty in health communication, especially when communicating health risks to patients. Her paper mainly focuses on a critique of Walter et al.’s model of causal argumentation. She suggests a model with more medicine-related critical questions.

Sara Rubinelli’s presentation focused on ways to fix the intrinsic problems in medical practices and diagnoses. She uses Aristotle’s rhetoric to evaluate the doctor-patient relationship, particularly in doctor-patient consultations. She notes the problem arises when there’s a disagreement between doctor and patient in regard to the best possible medical treatment. We need to fix argumentation strategies in these consultations as opposed to possibly changing practices.

The presented paper of Dina Mohammed, Peter J. Schultz’s entitled “Audience Adaptation in Direct-to-Consumer Advertising Framework of the concept of Strategic Maneuvering” discusses how pharmaceutical companies adapt advertisements to consumers. The standard belief is that pharmaceutical companies do not educate or inform because they contain emotional appeals in order to target potential consumers. In their paper, Mohammad and Schultz note that pharmaceutical companies are strategic when choosing topics used in their advertising arguments. In the end, they conclude that it’s possible for pharmaceutical advertising to fulfill educational and promotional purposes; however, advertising tends to appeal to potential consumers rather than actual patients.

Saturday, 11:00 – Scientific argument, narrativizing science, mixing scientific and religious discourse

Panel 5
Annenberg Forum, Carswell Hall

Andrew Leslie, Salem College

Rachel Avon Whidden, Lake Forest College
Margaret D. Zulick, Wake Forest University
‘Analytic under Siege: Stealth Dialectics and Rhetorical Deligitimation of Scientific Argument in the Public Sphere’

Atilla Hallsby, University of Iowa
‘Narrativizing Science and Disaster: Story, Discourse, and Possible Worlds in the Supercollider’
Paper read by Liviu Gajora, Wake Forest University

Kelly Congdon, University of Richmond
‘From Expressivist Swords to Deliberative Ploughshares? Mixing the Language of Jesus and Genes and the Constitution of Controversy over Evolution’

1st speaker: Rachel Avon Whidden, Lake Forest College; Margaret D. Zulick, Wake Forest University

Analytic under Siege: Stealth: Dialectics and Rhetorical Deligitimation of Scientific Argument in Public Sphere

The idea that science should not have an agenda of its own leads to a deligitimation of science when the agendas are revealed.

Slide showing overlapping  ground of Analytic, Dialectic and Rhetoric each with distinct functions relative to one another. Dialectic, in part  to refine the analytic, Rhetoric shifts between the other two. The rhetorical voice allows analytical and dialectic to represent themselves in the public sphere.

Rhetoric is, according to Aristotle, the counter part of Dialectic. Science, the analytical,  and ideology, the dialectic can be mediated through

MMR and autism, vested interest in claim that Wakefield put forth in the Lancet that there is a link between the two based upon a few parental claims. Wakefield was contracted by an attorney to investigate what Wakefield had already “determined”, that there was a link between the two. Wakefield was found guilty of multiple scientific misconduct 12 years latter. However, CNN reports and others insist that the scientific community is involved in a conspiracy–they do  not want to open up the “can of worms.” Passions regarding anecdotal sufferings of parents.

Intelligent design, a dialectic, masquerades as an analytic.

Deliberate attempt to disprove existing science and to colonize the realm of science within the classroom.

Questions will follow all papers.

2nd speaker: Atilla Hallisby (paper presented by Liviu Gajora)

Narrativizing Science and Disaster: Story, Discourse, and Possible Worlds in the Supercollider

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) received attention early in its planning stage of dystopic (and apocalyptic) warnings, that did not occur according to predicted dates. Shortly after the LHC was started, it suffered a massive failure upon its maiden run requiring shut down and reconstruction of a significant portion of the LHC.

Logics provided by the technical community do not carry sufficient weight to dislodge the dystopic narrative or variants. Especially when some scientists discussed the possibility that the LHC might produce blackholes that could swallow the matter around them.

After the failure, the narrative surfaced that particles traveled back in time to destroy the LHC.

The distinction between the fictional and the non-fictional risks becoming  purely phenomenological. Much like in Culler’s deconstruction of Russian Formalism notions of sjuzhet and fabula (corresponding to notions of story and plot), the fact that a story can be true is sometimes as important as the fact that the story is true (things found in the story actualy happened). Freud illustates a similar idea when saying that psycnoanalysis works to the same extent if the story the patient says actually happened or just thinks happened.

Scientific discourse cannot rely on facts, because there are none (the LHC provided neither the Higs-Boson particle, nor the end of the world), thus it is forced to rely on narratives that have an internal logic, even though their external logic cannot be verified. Within this framework, public (non-technical)  fictional narratives can compete directly with the scientific narratives, because a causal relationship is impossible to support with real world evidence.

3rd speaker: Kelly Congdon, University of Richmond

From Expressivist Swords to Deliberative Ploughshares? Mixing the Language of Jesus and Genes and the Constitution of Controversy over Evolution

Argument as warfare, reduces to two sides and often induces apathy in those uncomfortable with argumentative methods.

Collective deliberation stands against the argumentation methodology so constitutive  of our public debate.

Enter Francis Collins ‘The Language of God: A scientist presents evidence for belief’. Presidential honor, Christian accolades as single most influential contribution to Christian apologetics.

Sam Harris one of Dawkins’ followers on other extreme, critiques Collins: ‘Collins proves that a stellar career as a scientist is not guarantee of being a follower of scientific principles.

Claim that raising your children to be religious as child abuse.

To the public it appears that a choice must be made between either two, false dilemma.

Reviews of Harris’s book–ammunition to arm secularists.

Harris’s book will be read mostly by scientists.

Collins’ deliberative engagement of the subject is tha appeal of Colllins’ book.

Respectful and charitable listening across beliefs.

Rational and irrational polarization precludes a wide range of alternates. Leaving only a scorched earth methodology on each side.

Certain rhetors cordon off communities–those in the middle must choose or “run for your life.”

Fundamentalism a spongable style and system of tropes.

Panel now open for questions.

Saturday, 9:30 – Giving Contextualization its Rightful Place in the Study of Argumentation

Keynote Address 2

Frans H. van Eemeren, University of Amsterdam

‘In Context. Giving Contextualization its Rightful Place in the Study of Argumentation’

Annenberg Forum, Carswell Hall

The busiest day of the Conference just started with Frans Eemeren’s keynote address on the importance of context and macro-context in the analysis of the soundness of arguments in communicative activities.

A reconstructive analysis of the argumentative discourse leads to reconstructive transformations:

  1. Leaving out all speech that does not play a part in the resolution
  2. Rearranging in an insightful way those elements whose order does not help
  3. Making explicit all arguments that are implicit
  4. Reformulating in a meaningful way things that lead to resolution

Only after these transformations have been applied, can we proceed to the evaluation of the discourse.

Analysts have various sources:

  1. The text
  2. The context
  3. The macro-context
  4. Background information

Context is not fixed: with every new argument, the context is changed.

The macro-context focuses on the inter-textual, the other speech events.

Walton introduces the notion of “dialogue types,” each of them having specific soundness norms. The usefulness of dialogue types is to account systematically for the variance of the criteria for identifying fallacious argumentation. Each dialogue type yields a separate norm of argumentation, with specific rules as to when arguments are sound and when they are fallacious. The problem with this paradigm is that certain instances involve more than one dialogue type. Also, whenever there is a dialectic shift (a change from one dialogue type to another in the course of a discourse), it is hard to make the distinction between a licit and an illicit dialectic shift (the latter being a fallacy).

Argumentation is not just a theoretical construct, but an empirical phenomenon observed in communicative practices. Speech events are analyzed as tokens of specific communicative activity type (CAT). Not all CAT are argumentative, but arguments are usually a big part of any CAT. A list of CATs can be empirically compiled, a list that is bound to be incomplete.

Within this framework, a fallacy can be defined as a move that is prejudicial or harmful on the realization of the goal of the CAT.

How do we distinguish between sound and fallacious moves in CATs? Fallacies judgments should be contextual judgments. Has any dialectical norm been violated in this particular context? Let’s take the example of the appeal to authority. Its validity depends on the rules of the CAT. Appeal to a dictionary in a game of scrabble, where the macro-context provided a tacit agreement that the dictionary is the deciding tool when in doubt, is a valid type of argument. Soundness criteria vary from field to field.

In analyzing and evaluating argumentative discourses, we need to take into account the constraints imposed on strategic maneuvering attempts by the macro-context of institutionalized norms of CATs.

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).