Saturday, January 16, 2010

173. Cross-posted from Blogora:

Hello, Dr. Aune!

Rhetoric and argumentation strike me, like rhetoric and persuasion, to be tricky because each term can be configured to subsume the other.

Persuasion is one of the available goals of rhetoric (and so is a subset of it). At the same time, the rhetorical tradition is but one of many ways of understanding persuasion as a phenomenon (and so rhetoric is a subset of persuasion).

Argument is a form of rhetoric (and so a subset of rhetoric). At the same time, the study of argument is engaged by rhetoricians as well as philosophers, folks working in artificial intelligence, and discourse theorists like Frans van Eemeren (who is Professor in the Department of Speech Communication, Argumentation Theory and Rhetoric) -- rhetoric is just one of several ways of understanding argument.

Here's what I know: The teaching of argument is a common goal of speech rhetoricians, especially those embedded in the debate tradition, and writing rhetoricians interested in written argument, as well as our philosophical colleagues interested in "informal logic" and "critical thinking." God bless our single greatest interdisciplinary export across the three fields: Toulmin, Stephen, 1964. The Uses of Argument. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

(The best work to come from the recent Canadian philosophers, in this light, is: Tindale, Christopher W. Rhetorical Argumentation: Principles of Theory and Practice. Sage Publications. and Acts of Arguing: A Rhetorical Model of Argument. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. YMMV.)

The call to pedagogy is what ties us -- phil, speech, comp, right?


As to whether someone is a rhetorical theorist or an argumentation theorist: that's a matter of self-identification ("I'm a rhetorician if I think I am one?").

Argumentation theorists whose work borders rhetoric identify with organizations like:

OSSA: Ontario Society for the Study of Argumentation

Tokyo Conference on Argumentation

ISSA: International Society for the Study of Argumentation

Speech rhetoricians, on the other hand, with a commitment to argument identify with:
American Forensic Association
and its Alta conference

There are print and conference resources attached to all of these organizations worth a look to all rhetoricians.


But: I come to these communities as a visitor. You "came of age" in the culture of argument in communication studies, Dr. Aune. You grew up in the house I only know from across the street. What would you add?

--David Beard, UM Duluth


argumentics said...

I tried to understand the purpose of this post but I tripped and fell.

First stop: When you say "Argument is a form of rhetoric", my first thought was "Argument is a form of ... argumentation". Better yet, it's what distinguishes argumentation from the "whole" rhetorical purpose.

Second stop: I agree with the major importance of Toulmin's "The Uses of...". He may be "the greatest", too. But why "the single one"? How about Perelman&Olbrechts-Tyteca or Ducrot&Anscombre or Hamblin, for that matter?

Third stop: I agree once again that "argumentation theorists" and "rhetorician" is a matter of self-identification. I just want to stress out that it doesn't mean they "do kinda like the same thing".

Forth stop: Who is Dr. Aune? :)

Nice blog. I will follow.

David said...


This was cross-posted from the Blogora, the blog of the RSA.

I do need to contextualize more before cross-posting.

Therein, I was drawing attention to the new issue of Informal Logic to members of the RSA.

First stop: Some pieces of rhetoric are/contain arguments; some do not. (I do take rhetoric to be a broad term for a wide range of discourse: political rhetoric, advertising rhetoric, confessional rhetoric). That's all I mean to communicate, in that first stop.

The "single" bit refers to the widespread export of Toulmin -- not to the relative merits of the work. There are swaths of people in disciplines unrelated to speech, English, or philosophy who know the Toulmin model and know nothing of any other work in rhetorical or argumentation theory. (Whether they know it *well* is an open question.) People ignorant of nearly any study of argument in the philosophical tradition or the rhetorical tradition can spit out "grounds, claims, warrants." That makes Toulmin, it seems to me, out greatest export -- though not necessarily our greatest theory.

I agree, wholeheartedly. For polemical purposes in an interdisciplinary society, I feel it's more important to stress the similarities than the differences. But the differences are substantial The purposes of the critical thinking/informal logic class are different from the argument/debate class, even though the literature cited, the textbooks used, the examples parsed, the exercises run might be very, very similar.

At present, when our European and Canadian colleagues in Argumentation visit our conferences, it's akin to a foreign exchange. I'm hoping, through a little bit of hortatory work, that it will eventually be more like a visit from the cousin you only see at Christmas.

Who do you be, argumentics? I took a quick look at your blog -- I saw a post about Moore and a post about Perelman. I spent part of two summers ago trying to parse Moore's influence on Richards' the Philosophy of Rhetoric. We may have commerce!

argumentics said...

Just an add-on: as I see it, it is more like the "export of Toulmin's model" than that of the "whole Toulmin" (i.e the debate to which he responded, the consequences of argumentation seen as procedure, the, the, the). Many people, indeed, have an acquaintance with the model. Frankly, I'm not sure myself I got the full wittgensteinish picture of the late chapters ...

Good luck with the hortatory work there!