3:AM Magazine has an interview with our own Scott Aikin. Â Get it here. Â A sample:
3:AM:Â YourÂ new bookÂ is about the social nature and political significance of argument. You see argument as any attempt to think things through, talk things over or figure out by means of processes aimed at sharing and evaluating reasons. The originality of this is that you broaden the idea of â€˜argumentâ€™ out considerably so you catch what you call â€˜dialectical fallaciesâ€™ . So can you first say something about what youâ€™re doing here â€“ and how it contrasts with more common approaches to evaluating arguments â€“ and what a â€˜dialectical fallacyâ€™ is.
SA:Â The first step is to acknowledge that the term â€˜argumentâ€™ captures two types of things. On the one hand, arguments are informational products â€“ sets of premises and conclusions bearing logical relations to each other. On the other hand, arguments are processes and performances â€“ reason-exchanges between people for the sake of resolving a dispute by finding out whatâ€™s true. For the most part, philosophical interest in argument has been focused on the product-side of argument, and the process-side has been left to rhetoric. This is lamentable. First, because the focus of rhetoric isnâ€™t about what normatively appropriate methods there are, but about what methods yield assent. Second, because there are norms of argument as a process that are truth-oriented.
So consider the old straw man fallacy. Itâ€™s hard to say whatâ€™s wrong about it from a formal perspective, as a straw man fallacy entails erecting a fallacious argument and criticizing it. Nothing is formally wrong with that, but whatâ€™s informally wrong is that youâ€™re not hooking up with the arguments and views those who oppose your views have. Itâ€™s a kind of misfire between interlocutors. So there are groundrules for good arguments, ones that arise out of (or are the conditions for) the exchange of reasons. And one of those groundrules is that if we are jointly weighing reasons, we accurately assess each otherâ€™s reasons â€“ to distort the otherâ€™s reasons subverts the process. Consequently, to take on this notion of dialectical fallacy, youâ€™ve got to take on this pragmatic perspective on argument â€“ weâ€™re out for the truth (or at least understanding) by way of the honest exchange of reasons.
Read the whole thing.