The Possibility and Actuality of Visual Argument Issue: whether there can be visual arguments
Govier’s Policy No supplementation without justification (pages 43 – 44). Typically with visual images we have to add all the premises and all the conclusions to images. When adding unstated conclusions and premises we should do so with restraint. “We do not recommend interpreting visual art as argument” (p. 49)
J. Anthony Blair While visual arguments are possible, they seem not to be widespread. More significantly, they seem not to constitute a radically different kind of argument from verbal ones. What makes visual messages influential, taking television advertisements as the most striking examples, is not any argumentative function they may perform, but the unconscious identifications they invoke. There is no reason to ignore or overlook visual arguments.
The explicit properties of arguments (1) there is a claim; that is, the assertion has been made that something has to be believed, or chosen, or done; (2) there is a reason or there are reasons for the claim; that is, the assertion has been made of something supporting what is to be believed, chosen or done; (3) the reason(s) is(are) linguistically explicable and overtly expressed; (4) the claim is linguistically explicable; (5) there is an attempt to communicate the claim and reason(s). These explicit properties entail the following implicit properties of arguments: (6) there is some person who uses the claim and its reason(s) (this person may, but need not be, its author); (7) there is some intended recipient audience or interlocutor(s) to whom the claim and reason(s) are addressed.
Visual arguments are to be understood as propositional arguments in which the propositions and their argumentative function and roles are expressed visually, for example by paintings and drawings, photographs, sculpture, film or video images, cartoons, animations, or computer-designed visuals.
Marat gave his last penny to the poor Marat was a benefactor of the unfortunate Marat was a poor man of great dignity and composure, therefore Marat was, like Christ, a great moral martyr
We are all the same under our skin; we are biologically the same species, and we are all human.
Racism is a construct, not an inborn attitude; adults impose its ugliness on the innocence of children.
We are joined together, black and white, inescapably; we are prisoners of our attitudes.
We are all the same under our skin; we are biologically the same species, and we are all human Racism is a construct, not an inborn attitude; adults impose its ugliness on the innocence of children. We are joined together, black and white, inescapably; we are prisoners of our attitudes. Therefore Racism is unjustified and should be ended.
Enough information has to be provided visually to permit an unambiguous verbal reconstruction of the propositions expressed, so that, combining that with contextual information, it is possible to reconstruct a plausible premise-and-conclusion combination intended by the visual image.
Why it’s important to think critically about visual argument: their power and suggestiveness. While there can be no doubt that visual argument is important by virtue of its ability to be powerfully influential, its responsible deployment calls for great skill and integrity, and its responsible consumption requires alert critical interaction. Visual arguments must always be suspect and their power countered by a degree of skepticism and a range of critical questions: "Is that the whole story?" "Are there other points of view?" "Is the real picture so black and white?" Visual argument will tend to be one-sided, uni-dimensional argument.
Exercise 5, #8 We all hope to grow old some day. When we grow old we will need the services of retailers, manufacturers, politicians, dentists, doctors, nurses, and many other personnel. These people will provide us with what we need. These people will help to care for us. Only a few of these people will be our children. SO The rest of these people will be other people’s children. THEREFORE We all have a personal stake in educating other people’s children.