Wordless Wotan’s Day: Attack of teh Rockykins!


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Project Logicality: What is Argumentation?


Cropped image of a Socrates bust for use in ph...

Cropped image of a Socrates bust for use in philosophy-related templates etc. Bust carved by by Victor Wager from a model by Paul Montford, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This post was originally published in 2011, and since then I’ve decided to give it new life and clear up difficulties in the text. I decided to use it once for for the pilot entry of my current Project Logicality. I hope it adds to the online discussion of the virtues of reason despite the decidedly unreasonable tendencies of the human species.

What is it that I mean when I say ‘argument?’ When I use this term, I don’t mean quarrelsome bickering accompanied by yelling and screaming, nor do I mean a mere shadow of an argument where debaters try to undermine the legitimacy of each others’ position without attempting to reach a real understanding or settling anything.

When I say, “argument” I mean it in the context of any rational discussion with constructive intent, not an attempt to thwart constructive ends through fallacious means.

Here, I mean that the parties involved act to offer reasons, premises, rationales, and justifications for the statements, the claims, and the ideas that they put forth. They want others to accept these, not merely by pandering to their prejudices or appealing to their biases, nor upon the use of legal or physical force, but by winning the free assent of that audience — an audience treated as though it were in principle intelligent, educated, and capable of exercising rigorous critical judgement.

I refer to argument in the sense of modern argumentation theory, a vibrant field of study involving the making and use of messages to influence others, by appealing to their willingness to cooperate — this is essential for the conditions of a viable free society.

Any coherent social structure, especially a functioning representative democracy with a large number of people needs some means of mutual influence between its members, of and for the viability of its governing system, however imperfect its governing body in practice. Perfection in matters of human endeavor is a chimera.

Argumentation as a field of study crosses paths with three other areas of intellectual endeavor:

First, it converges with Logic, the broader study of the structures we use in all processes of reasoning — this includes formal logic, mathematical and symbolic logic where the conclusion of a valid argument is alleged to be certainly true if the premises used to support it are also true.

But argumentation concerns itself more with informal logic, the everyday reasoning we engage in within typical discussions — in which the statements we wish to support do not follow with certainty, but to a degree of probability depending on the strength of our reasons and the willingness of the audience to accept them.

In argumentation, even the very idea of certainty depends on the audience addressed.

Language is important in informal logic, because informal argumentation depends heavily on the use of language as the content of the argument. Language is more than merely decorative window-dressing for an informal argument, but an essential part of the argument’s inherent meaning. The language that an argument is cast in cannot be taken from the argument itself without rendering it sterile and empty.

Second, argumentation converges with Rhetoric, originally one of the seven Liberal Arts — it is more than just vacuous or bombastic and flowery ornamentation in speech as is commonly supposed, but in the technical sense it is the broader study of how people are influenced by messages.

It is from Rhetoric that argumentation gets the concern with the requirements of an audience — its needs, disposition, and outlook must be considered by the arguer in making their case.

Third, argumentation crosses over with dialectic, a term that many people still associate with the concept of an opposition between grand historical forces, like the opposition of capitalism and communism depicted in Marxist social theory.

This concept has a different meaning, and dates at least since the Socratic method,  given in the dialogues of Plato, and others, in which fictionalized persons are seen to engage in a sort of give and take exchange of questions and answers to resolve a dispute or reveal the truth of a matter.

This sort of questioning is similar to the use of cross-examination of witnesses in modern legal courts by the prosecuting attorneys in a case to uncover inconsistencies in testimony and to reveal possibly questionable motives.

Argumentation is the meeting point of all of these fields, and with it, we can clarify our understanding of our positions, resolve disputes, reach sound decisions for collective actions we may undertake, engage in formal and often productive debates, and, with ourselves as the audience, think through personal problems we may face or get out of a rut.

Argumentation as a process of giving reasons for our claims is one of the most important abilities we have as humans, and no matter our level of education, we can all benefit from the ability to arrive at better answers to questions and make more sound decisions than we otherwise might.

Argumentation isn’t just for egghead academics: Clear thinking and having good reasons for what we believe and do are for everyone. As humans, we are not always rational, but we have a sense of reason, one that once nurtured and practiced can serve us and enfranchise us as informed, effective, and smart voters very well indeed.

 

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The Weekly Gnuz & Lynx Roundup: 2014/04/06


bats_rightsideupSo here I am again, getting ready to see the 4th 5th episode of the new Cosmos tonight while fending off the attention-getting diabolical schemes of my cats. I’ve been reading a bit more, including books on various forms of memory and learning strategies, plus a couple of Sagan books, one almost complete.

I’ve noticed that even recently, I’ve a tendency to come up with plans and projects, many perhaps viable, but foiled by periodic failures of prospective memory, and in the past I’ve berated myself over this, on this blog and other venues online — but that is no way to live — so I’m learning better strategies for managing my projects and getting them done, even if not when I’d originally planned. Further still, I’m assessing my limits and setting more realistic goals to start with.

It seems to be working so far, but I’ve a bit to go.

I consider that when I’m tempted to kick the ribs of those poor innnocent, and oh-so skeletonized equines: It’s the effectiveness of the strategies used, not the time invested nor the difficulty of the work, that counts.

Talotaa frang.

My Weekly Blogs Roundup

Roundup of The Other Blogs

The Odd, the Strange & the Sciencey

 

Videos

Caturday’s Astrophenia: 2014/04/05


Figure 5: NASA JPL to-scale size comparison of...

Figure 5: NASA JPL to-scale size comparison of Enceladus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

G’day! I’m posting this from the comic shop this disgustingly fine afternoon, while getting things ready for study, practice of study and reading strategies, and getting in more reading.

This was a good week for the search for life on other worlds, with the discovery of an ocean on Caturn’s moon Enceladus.

I’m hoping that we find the political will to fund a mission there sometime soon, as well as further missions to Titan and the exploration of Jupiter’s moon Europa.

I’m a little curious though, about the proposed Martian cuisine for future colonists — grasshoppers and fungi — Sounds tasty, though that’s probably just the fact that I like mushrooms…not the recreational sort though!

Stay brilliant, O peeps, as the stars at night!

Io in True Color

2012 VP113: A New Furthest Known Orbit in the Solar System

Space Station Robot Forgets Key Again

Mars Red and Spica Blue

At the Edge of NGC 2174

Along the Western Veil

Lunar Farside

Images of the Week:

Spiral Galaxy M100
Source: Hubblesite.org
Jet in Carina
Source: Hubblesite.org

Weekly Astrognuz:

Is Andromeda Drifting Towards Us?

NASA Mars Rover Curiosity Scoping Out Next Study Area | NASA

Morpheus Lander Flies Again on ‘Green’ Fuel | Video

Stunning Aurora at Mount Kirkjufell in Iceland

Predicting Mars Cuisine: Grasshoppers with a Side of Fungi (Op-Ed)

El Gordo Galaxy Cluster Even Bigger Than Thought

India Launches Its 2nd Navigation Satellite

Could This Be The Signal Of Dark Matter? Unsure Scientists Checking This Out

US Air Force Launches New Weather Satellite Into Orbit

Sobering IPCC Report: “Warming is Unequivocal”

Will Ocean Discovery On Enceladus Spur Life-Hunting Missions to Icy Moons of Saturn, Jupiter?

NASA Announces ‘Take the Plunge’ Contest – Guess when LADEE Hits the Moon – Soon!

Hints of Dark Matter from Milky Way’s Center Revealed by Gamma-Ray Map | Video

Cassini Spacecraft Confirms Subsurface Ocean on Enceladus

NASA-Russia Breach Will Not Affect UrtheCast Cameras On Space Station, Company Says

The Cosmos in Video:

Weekly Astrofave(s):

How Hubble Successor Will Spread Its Wings Far From Earth | New Animation

Allan Adams: The discovery that could rewrite physics | Talk Video | TED

Weekly Space Hangout – April 4, 2014: Space Politics, Skydiving Meteor, and Enceladus Ocean

Dance Me to the End of Time and Space

Did a Skydiver Almost Get Hit By a Meteorite? (Video.)

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The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Daleks


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