Saturday, December 22, 2007

In A Discussion, It Often Boils Down To Values

In a discussion, when the parties are at an impasse, many times it boils
down to what either party thinks is important or what values they hold.
For example, Julie writes what she thinks is perfect paper and presents
it to her teacher. Her teacher agrees that it is one of the best papers
she has ever seen with regards to content but cannot justify any grade
better than average because of the grammatical errors. In this case, no
doubt the content is important, but the lack of grammatical integrity is
important to the teacher and the University. Their discussion is at an
impasse because Julie places a higher importance on content while the
teacher necessarily must place a higher importance on grammar.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Rules for Critical Discussion

Rules for Critical Discussion
by Frans Van Eemeren & Rob Grootendorst,
taken from "Fundamentals of Critical Argumentation" by Douglas Walton,
Cambridge University Press, 2006.

1. Parties must not prevent each other from advancing or casting doubt on each
others viewpoints.

2. Whoever advances a viewpoint is obliged to defend it if asked to do so.

3. An attack on a viewpoint must represent the viewpoint that has really been
advanced by the protagonist.

4. A viewpoint may be defended or attacked only by advancing argumentation
that is relevant to that viewpoint.

5. A person can be held responsible for the unstated premises he leaves implicit
in his argument.

6. A viewpoint is regarded as conclusively defended only if the defense takes
place by means of argumentation based on premises accepted by the other party,
and it meets the requirements of Rule 8.

7. A viewpoint is regarded as conclusively defended only if the defense takes
place by means of arguments in which an argumentation scheme is correctly

8. A viewpoint is regarded as conclusively defended only if supported by a chain
of argumentation meeting the requirements of rules 6 and 7 and if the unstated
premises in the chain of argumentation are accepted by the other party.

9. A failed defense must result in the proponent withdrawing her thesis and a
successful defense must result in the respondent withdrawing his doubt about
the proponents thesis.

10. Formulations of questions and arguments must not be obscure, excessively
vague, or confusingly ambiguous and must be interpreted as accurately as

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