Speaker Series Mar 25

Friday, March 25, 2022 - 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

Léa Farine
Visiting CRRAR Student

“The concepts of relativeness and relevance in practical argumentation”

In the context of practical reasoning the “basic form of practical inference” has the following structure:

“I [or we] have a goal, G.
Carrying out this action A is a means to realize G.
Therefore, I [or we] ought (practically speaking) to carry out this action A.”
(Walton, 2007, p. 204)

From this basic inference, deliberation takes place in two cases. First, it occurs when agents have conflicting goals, hence the first premise is challenged. In this case, justifying a standpoint requires an appeal to “values” (e.g., “I don’t want vaccination to be compulsory, because it would threaten the individual’s freedom of choice.”) or “circumstances” (e.g., “I don’t want to be vaccinated, because I have an autoimmune disease.”) (Fairclough and Fairclough, 2012, p. 45) (examples are mine)
Second, deliberation occurs when agents agree on a goal, but one challenges the second premise that carrying action A is the best means to realize G. In this case, justification requires an appeal to a “means-goals” calculus: in what sense is A the best means? Would B be better than A? (e.g., “Herd immunity through disease transmission is a better means than vaccination to lower the risks caused by COVID.”) (Fairclough and Fairclough, 2012, p. 45) (examples are mine)
First question: What makes a proposition about some values, some circumstances, or the best means to realize a goal, a good or at least admissible justification? My answer is that what makes these propositions admissible or not in a process of practical deliberation is their relativeness to a domain, which affects their relevance in justifying a premise.
Second question: Is it possible to grasp in a systematical way the domains to which are attached the relativeness and the relevance of practical argumentation propositions? I will sketch a path in this direction, using a theory of Boltanski and Thévenot, who claim that these “forms of generality and worth” (2006, p. 16) exist, and propose a characterization of them through the concept of “polities”: a set of six definite social theoretical domains to which relate justificatory propositions involved in practical argumentation.

Friday, March 25, 2022


Weekly presentations conducted via Zoom as well as in-person meeting in CHS 53.

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