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Reasoning, Argumentation and Rhetoric conference to have free public component

The Centre for Research in Reasoning, Argumentation and Rhetoric (CRRAR) will host the Ontario Society for Studies in Argumentation’s international conference on the topic Argumentation, Objectivity and Bias, from May 18 to 21, bringing together 150 of the world’s top experts in philosophy, rhetoric, and communication.

The events begin with a series of free public workshops at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Wednesday, May 18, in Vanier Hall. Visiting researchers will present on the following topics:

  • Introduction to Bayesian Argumentation, organized by Frank Zenker of Lund University, will examine Thomas Bayes’ theorem of probability as a way of evaluating the strength of an argument. Participants will learn to apply the theorem as a formal measure of argument strength and weakness and discuss the implications for research. 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Addressing Bias, organized by Moira Howes of Trent University, will address practical methods for reducing social and cognitive biases in thinking and interaction with others. Participants will explore ways to decrease biased reasoning in the workplace, particularly in cases where biases are motivated by strong emotion, entrenched assumptions, or failures in communication. Strategies for decision-making and communication in cases where pronounced biases persist despite skilled intervention will be discussed. 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Objective Agreement: the Voyages of Treaty Canoe, organized by Catherine Hundleby and presented by Tory James and Alex McKay, all of the University of Windsor, will discuss the dilemma and responsibilities inherent in occupying other nations’ sovereign territory. Treaty Canoe is a 1999 artwork created by McKay that is built of red and white cedar and covered in paper copies of transcribed treaties. Participants will transcribe treaties themselves and contribute directly to the project while engaging in open-ended discussion on the relationship between Indigenous peoples and settler/immigrants. 1 to 3 p.m.
  • Using Classroom Debates for De-biasing in Critical Thinking Instruction, presented by Jean Goodwin of Iowa State University and Steven Patterson of Marygrove College, will help critical thinking and ethics instructors incorporate debates and similar exercises into their courses. The workshop will briefly highlight scholarship on learning outcomes of debate exercises, with a primary focus on practical questions of the ‘why-what-how’ of teaching critical thinking through debate. 1 to 3 p.m.

More information is available on the conference website,