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My.proposal that argument be viewed as a form of

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Unformatted text preview: My...proposal that argument be viewed as a form of social interaction has proved remarkably uncontroversial; but my arguments that nondiscursive symbolism is a core element of argumentation¢s subject matter have provoked wide dispute. This is an odd result, since I do not see how one can take the argument-as-interaction notion seriously and still maintain that arguments are exhaustively or uniquely linquistic communications. (1981 p. 191) The social sciences concern themselves with people, and I agree with Willard that people argue in an intricate matrix composed of numerous forms of communicative methods. It is therefore essential that this matrix be examined and, even more, brought to bear as a tool of analysis upon argumentative interaction. In this essay I abandon the two cited assumptions, and suppose that modes of communicating, persuading, convincing and disputing that are wholly or partially non-rational are equally integral to argumentation. In doing so, the area that is covered by ¡argument¢ must be reconsidered and re-defined. This essay undertakes the evaluation of the results of suspending the two aforementioned assumptions, and offers a categorization of argument that goes beyond both the verbal and the rational. Further, if, as the last forty years of argumentation theory attest, we intend to treat argument as a human endeavour rather than a logical exercise, we must make room therein for those practices used by actual arguers. In doing this we must try as best we can to separate the normative from the descriptive, and remember at all times that argumentation theorists are largely drawn from a highly rational professional group that values linear reasoning above all other modes of persuasive communication. While this is not to suggest that Western academics do not have emotions or intuitions, rationality and ¡being rational¢ are normally put forward as the correct approach for interpersonal communication especially in formal or dialectical situations. The trap that lies in wait for argumentation theory is that the rest of the world is not nearly as linearly rational as Western academics. Even in North America there are millions of people M.A. GILBERT MULTI-MODAL ARGUMENTATION PHIL OF THE SOCIAL SCIENCES VOL 24 NR 2 .3 who believe in the supernatural, the extra-sensory, and an entire cornucopia of religious, mystical and New Age ontology. Indeed, I believe it is safe to surmise that far more people believe in spirits, reincarnation, and the like than do not. If, therefore, we are concerned with how people do in fact argue, with what sorts of material, evidence, modes of communication, maneuvres, fallacies, and persuasive devices people actually do draw upon , then we must go beyond the linguistic and even beyond the rational. To do otherwise is to limit argument, by fiat, to a narrow realm of the category of communications that persuade and/or convince. One might, of course, insist that this is exactly what ought be done: strange and inappropriate modes of reasoning or forms of argument have no place in good argument and ought not be encouraged. reasoning or forms of argument have no place in good argument and ought not be encouraged....
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My.proposal that argument be viewed as a form of social...

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