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NATURE OF ARGUMENT

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  1. NATURE OF ARGUMENT

  2. What is argument? • Monty Python sketch: “I’d like to have an argument”

  3. definition • “Argumentation is a form of instrumental communication relying on reasoning and proof to influence belief or behavior through the use of spoken or written messages” (Rybacki & Rybacki, 2008, p. 3).

  4. “…a form of instrumental communication…” • arguing is usually a means to an end, not the end itself • other types of interactions have terminal value, e.g., the conversation is the goal.

  5. “…relying on reasoning and proof…” • the essence of argument is reason-giving • an arguer can’t simply make an assertion; she or he must offer a reason or proof

  6. “…to influence belief or behavior…” • arguing is a form of influence or persuasion • emphasis is on rational rather than emotional appeals • emphasis is on central rather than peripheral processing

  7. Central processing: actively thinking about ideas and processing available information reflective, analytical decision making reading product reviews looking up consumer ratings seeking out objective, expert opinions Peripheral processing: using mental shortcuts, “heuristic” cues. habitual, reflexive decision making relying on celebrity endorsements giving in to brand loyalty basing a decision on “bells and whistels” central versus peripheral processing

  8. focus is on disagreement • Arguing focuses on disagreement, controversy • people usually only argue if one of them is uncertain of the outcome • if a conclusion is certain, inescapable, there is no need to argue

  9. argument is audience-centered • arguing is audience-centered • we fashion arguments with specific listeners in mind • effective arguments are geared to the receiver’s frame of reference • an argument that appeals to one audience may not appeal to another

  10. argumentation is probabilistic • arguing is always “iffy” because there is no guarantee the other person(s) will agree • in argument, success is usually a matter of degree • the other person might convince us instead

  11. Conventions for arguing are based on formal and informal rules formal rules in legal argument: admissibility of evidence, exclusionary rule formal rules in social science argument: p < .05 level of significance, scale reliability, replication NFL challenges and instant replay Informal rules in everyday argument turn-taking, interruptions fairness requirements for evidence ad hominem attacks availability condition argument is rule-governed

  12. Three perspectives of argument • Rhetorical perspective: • views arguments as being audience-centered • arguing is strategic: arguments must be adapted to the listener’s frame of reference • standards for evaluating arguments are person-specific, situation dependent

  13. Three perspectives-continued • Dialectical perspective: • views argument as a back and forth, give and take process • arguments are multilateral, they evolve, change, and develop over time • involves testing arguments in the “marketplace of ideas,” assumes the strongest arguments will prevail

  14. Three perspectives • Logical perspective: • presumes there are objective, universal standards for evaluating arguments • arguments are unilateral, complete, self-contained • based upon formal logic, standards for determining validity/invalidity

  15. Ethical standards for argument • Teleological ethics: focuses on consequences • the outcome is what matters • greatest good for the greatest number • example: lying is sometimes necessary and even desirable, abortion is justified under certain circumstances

  16. Ethical standards for argument • Deontological ethics: based on moral absolutes • principles don’t change due to situations, circumstances • based on a priori moral standards • example: torture is morally wrong, abortion is murder, eating meat is immoral

  17. Ethical standards for arguing • Clarity: making arguments clear and concise, avoiding purposeful ambiguity • Honesty: being candid, not relying on deceit, distortion, misrepresentation • Efficiency: involving the audience, making the form and content of the argument effective • Relevance: adapting arguments to the listener’s frame of reference

  18. Pro-social view of argument • Arguing is a key ingredient in decision making and problem solving • Arguing gets issues out in the open; lets people know where they stand • Arguing is a peaceful means of conflict resolution