Dr. Lee McGaan  

  Office:  WH 308  (ph. 309-457-2155);  email
  Home:  418 North Sunny Lane (ph. 309-734-5431, cell 309-333-5447)

Fall 2016 Office Hours:   MWF:  9:30 - 10am, 11am - Noon & 1 -2pm TTh:  2-3pm & by apt.  |  copyright (c) by Lee McGaan, 2006-2016

last updated 9/1/2005

 I.       What is argument/argumentation?

A.    Argument1 = a proposition/claim (with reasons). "What's your argument?
B.    Argument2 = process, "We're having an argument"

  1. Clues to what is an argument include words such as: "so," "because," "therefore."

  2. Argumentation is not a communication "breakdown."

  3. Traditional view of argument1:  rational appeals, logic

  4. Social view of argument1&2:  reason giving / mutual meaning creation / dispute situations

 II.     If argumentation is "giving reasons" for assertions (micro-structure), What requires reasons?  Do the examples below normally require reasons?

  1.  "I love you."  (an emotional expression)

  2.   "Please take your seats (bus driver)."  (a command)

  3.   "I'm giving you a C- on this assignment (an argument if there is a dispute but not if it is information giving)

  4.   "You should pay the cost of repairs to my car." (probably an argument requiring reasons why you should pay)

  5.   "It's 85 degrees in this classroom." (a simple statement of fact)

   (We use what "everyone" (involved) has agreed upon as support (grounds) to move to a new claim, thus  creating "chains of reasoning."


  III.  Foundation Concepts in Argumentation

A.     Definitions.  "An argument1 is a (set of) statement(s) in which a claim is made, support (REASONS) is offered, and there is an attempt to influence someone in the context of disagreement."  p. 6  -- "A claim is an expressed conclusion (assertion) the arguer (rhetor) wants accepted." p. 7  [ T.A. Hollihan & K.T. Baaske. Arguments and Arguing.  Waveland 1998. ]

B.      What counts as a reason? [support?  i.e., evidence, grounds]

  1. sufficiency (to the audience)

  2. clarity  (to the audience)

  3. credibility to the audience

  4. accepted principles/criteria  (for the audience or within "the field")

  5. silence of the audience/opponent?? (No!)

       C.       What is not an argument?

  1. descriptions

  2. undisputed facts

  3. commands

  4. emotional (consumatory) expressions

  5. artistic expressions

  6. promises

What is not an argument in one context may be in another!!

Evaluation of argument and rigor vary by situation too.

      D.     What are the goals of argument?

  1. Truth Testing function -- the Dialectic

    1. Validating claims  -- the logical perspective

    2. Testing claims and ideas (error checking) -- the epistemic perspective
      (& revealing hidden assumptions)

  2. Advocacy Function - the Rhetoric

    1. Convincing others of a claim (truth and action)

    2. Requiring multiples views be considered

    3. Building common ground

    4. Strengthening the challenged position

    [ Tension between 1 & 2 is always a problem ]

IV.  CONTEXTS for Argumentation

A. Cultural Contexts -

  1. Shared systems of meanings: symbols, myths, rituals, history, ideology.
  2. Sets interpretations, norms, values

B. Fields

  1. All academic enterprise is argumentation. Thus, disciplines are argumentation "fields"
  2. So are the professions (law, politics, science, etc.)
  3. Fields are defined by the traits of
    1. having consistent patterns of arguments
    2. preferred (field specific) warrants