Speaker's Series Apr. 26

Friday, April 26, 2019 - 15:00

Centre for Research in Reasoning, Argumentation & Rhetoric along with the PhD in Argumentation Studies at the University of Windsor invite you to a talk by


Harmony Peach

CRRARStudent Fellow


“Dissent, Disadvantage, Testimony and the Ideological ‘Truth’ of Presumptions”


Abstract: I examine how presumptions, which tend to hold as plausible placeholders for truth until proven defeasible (Rescher, 1997), can masquerade as “the truth” if those who dissent against otherwise accepted presumptions within a status quo are what Trudy Govier terms “rhetorically disadvantaged.” Evaluating the testimonial claims of others is linked to the speaker’s rhetorical effectiveness or “credibility” (Govier, 1993) and therefore their trustworthiness. Govier says “[t]estimonial claims are especially important…to [h]uman knowledge [as we are] utterly dependent upon our acceptance, much of the time, of what other people tell us” (Govier, 1993, p. 93), and if they believe us. Considering social power dynamics is then necessary for assessing rhetorical effectiveness, particularly for those who seek to dissent against a status quo due to their marginalization within a social system. For Nicholas Rescher (1977), the plausibility of a proposition is based on “the extent of its epistemic hold upon us in the light of the credentials presented by the bases of its credibility. The key issue is […] how readily the thesis in view could make its peace within the overall framework of our cognitive commitments” (Rescher, 1977, p. 38-39). I suggest it is not only the credibility of the thesis, but the rhetorical advantage of the claimant which determines how a presumption is regarded against our cognitive commitments. Moreover, I suggest that as the burden of proof tends to fall on those challenging the status quo, their critical assessment can be rebuffed if they are rhetorically disadvantaged which effectively renders their challenges to common knowledge presumptions as non-credible.

Friday, April 26, 2019

3:00 pm

Chrysler Hall North, 1163

All are welcome