Snoeck Henkemans, of the University of Amsterdam, argued that hyperbole can have a function in an arguer’s strategic maneuverings during the argumentation stage of a discussion. This is a topic close to our heart here at the NS, as our paper at OSSA (see later post on that) dealt with the closely related topic of the straw and iron man.
In any case, SH argued that hyperbole, especially aggrandizing hyperbole, can play a legitimate, i.e., ,non fallacious, role in sharpening the focus on elements of someone’s argumentation. Naturally, this comes from the perspective of pragma-dialectics, which enlarges the forum of argumentation beyond individual propositional moves, giving play to rhetorical elements, like hyperbole.
Problematically, or so people noted, there wasn’t a systematic principled distinction between legitimate and illegitimate hyperboles, as well as a general account of other related distortive speech acts.
Andrew Aberdein, of the Florida Institute of Technology, argued that if good arguments are virtuous, then bad arguments are vicious. The problem is that arguments are tokens, not dispositions. Side note: we here at the NS stress this fact in our general disclaimer on bias. We diagnose individual argument tokens, not ideologies.
Back to Aberdein. After dispensing with the idea that the ad hominem is always fallacious that the concept of virtue in argument was a self refuting ad hominem, Aberdein built what I thought was a good case for taking fallacies as argumentative vices–these include dogmatism, reliabilist problems, and failures of diligence in investigating evidence. All good so far, I think.
Dan Cohen (see Scott’s post on his awesome keynote) raised a key question. Argumentative vices seem to provide good reason for discounting arguers, but do argument virtues do the same for individual arguments?
So begins our "live blogging" exercise from the Ontario Society for the Study of Argumentation conference. I won't comment on the beer store, the Vietnamese restaurant, or Detroit Coney Island style hot dogs, or the
2.50 3.00 dollar Rye.
Scott will comment on Doug Walton's paper on argument schemes are dialogue; here a quick note about this morning's keynote by Paul Thagard's, "Critical Thinking versus Informal Logic."
Always interesting about papers like these are the examples of motivated reasoning, which Thagard might call "inference." Argument, by constrast, is the stuff you do in logic class. The problem Thagard points to is that argument has little cognitive value; we arrive at most of our beliefs by a process of inference, which, is unfortunately susceptible to various motivational distortions (fear, hope, etc.). So what of argument? Argument can at best be a corrective, used in the best of circumstances to influence inference, perhaps overnight, asleep, or while dreaming.