Arguers As Lovers. Wayne Brockriede. One introductory premise you must grant me if you are to assent to any of the rest of this essay is that one necessary ingre . Below is an assignment I had for my Argument class this semester. The article referenced is “Arguers as Lovers” which was written in and. Arguers as Lovers: Orientations Toward Arguing. “No philosophical purpose is served when a point of view prevails only because its author has silenced.

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I mean something more than a mere recognition that it is people, after all, who manipulate evidence and claims and follovvr the rules of transforming premises into conclusions. I maintain that the nature of the people who argue, ia all their hmnaimess, is itself an inherent variable in understanding, evaluating, ane predicting the processes and outcomes of an argu- ; ment.

When the logician proclaims triumphantly, as a result of the way he orders his premises, that Socrates is mortal, he does not aeed to know anything about himself or his respondents except livers they are “rational” and will follow the rules to know the lonclusion is entailed by the premises. Perhaps as good a way as any to distinguish the study of logic qnd the study of argument is to understand that logicians can safely ignore the influence of people on the transaction; arguers cannot.

Such a premise is not often enough taken into account by students of argument. One can easily read many of the landmark studies of argument, for example Bishop Whately’s Elements of Rhetoric, as well as most twentieth-century textbooks on argumentation, without any need to consider who the arguers are or how they relate to one another. That people are doing the arguing, of course, is assumed throughout, but when the writer on argument gets to his primary business of classifying and explicating evidence, forms of reasoning, fallacies, modes of refutation, and the like, people become irrelevant.

Philosophy and Rhetoric, Vol. What is debasing about realizing that one of the proper studies of any human transaction is a psychological analysis of the people who are doing the transacting? Among contemporary philosophers who recognize the central role of the arguer are Henry W. Natanson’s statement in this regard is especially pointed: Since arguments don’t argue themselves, the arguer Where is he situated?

Clearly, the paradigm case for the location of the arguer is our finding him in the process of arguing with another person To argue, I am indeed compelled to seek out my interlocutor. The arguer assumes his role in at least a dyadic situation. I do not deny that a study of logic, of propositions, of symbols, of linguistic analysis, of the formats in which arguments are presented, and of the situations in which they occur should be included in any comprehensive study of argument.

I say only that the arguer is also important and that the relationships among the people who argue may afford one useful way of classifying argumentative transactions.

I shall look at three stances arguers may take in relation to other arguers, and I shall look at them from the points of loevrs of their attitudes toward one another, their intentions toward one another, and the consequences of those attitudes and intentions for the act itself. The metaphor on which my classification is based is a sexual one.

Arguers As Lovers. Wayne Brockriede

That rape is an apt analogy for many communicative events not ordinarily thought of as argument seems clear enough. Some communicators are not primarily interested in gaining assent to warrantable claims.

Instead, they fimction through power, through an ability to apply psychic and physical sanctions, through rewards and especially punishments, through anf and threats. People may also attempt to coerce through argument, and sometimes they may succeed.

Many argumentative transactions can justly be viewed as rape. Arguers can have the rapist’s attitude toward other people, arguers can have an intent to rape, and the argumentative act itself can constitute rape.

The argumentative rapist views the relationship as a unilateral one. His attitude toward coarguers is to see them either as objects or as. So the rapist’s intent in a transaction with such people is to manipulate the objects or to violate the victims. The rapist wants to gain or to maintain a position of superiority whether on the intellectual front of making his case prevail or on the interpersonal front of putting the other person down.


One of the forms argumentative rape may take is for an arguer to structure the situation so he has more power than others. When a poor person’s argudrs has too little human and material resources to meet the power of the state or argkers power ad a corporation lawyer, the “have-not” has been raped by the “have.

Perhaps the ultimate instance of this form of rape is censorship, either overt or subtle. The person with too little power to resist censorship has his argument silenced. In any of these situations, he who is not permitted to present his argument or he who is not allowed to present it in the form of his choice has been raped. But even some argumentative situations structured in gamelike ways to give each person an equal opportunity to argue may be termed rape.

The adversary system lovets all its glory manifests rape when one adversary sees another as an object or as an inferior being and when he intends to destroy that opponent. Such a relationship often exists in the courtroom, in a political campaign, in many small-group deliberations, in many business meetings of povers, and in many legislative chambers. Another place to find the rapist’s attitudes and intentions in the adversary situation is the intercollegiate debate. The language LS symptomatic: That other ingredient concerns the role of the victim.

A coarguer may take any of several stances when confronted with the argument of a would-be rapist. He can be a willing victim, accepting as legitimate the rapist’s contempt toward him. Indeed, his own self-contempt may be so great argures he may seem to invite the attack and at times even almost to compel it Or. Or afguers can aeguers the fight by having enough power to defend himself.

Or he can, himself, have the attitude and intent of a rapist, and the outcome may depend on which arguegs rapist has the greater power.

Or, finally, he may somehow transfonn the situation into something other than rape by changing the attitudes and intentions of the would-be rapist. A second stance may be characterized by the word seduction. Whereas the rapist conquers by force of argument, the seducer operates through charm or deceit. The seducer’s attitude toward coarguers is similar to that of the rapist.

He, too, sees the relationship as unilateral. Although he may not be contemptuous of his prey, he is indifferent to the identity and integrity of the other person. Whereas the intent of the rapist is to force assent, the seducer tries to charm or trick his victim into assent.

What characterizes argumentative seduction? One form is through the conscious use of stratagems that appear in lists of fallacies. Such devices as ignoring the question, begging the question, the red herring, appeals to ignorance or to prejudice all aim at securing assent through seductive discourse that only appears to establish warrantable claims. Misuses of evidence also imply the attitudes and intentions of seduction.

Such practices as withholding information, quoting out of context, misquoting an authority or a witness, misrepresenting a factual situation, drawing unwarranted conclusions from evidence also seek assent through seductive uses of argument.

Many of rhetoric’s hallowed categories, even when functioning with no conscious attempt to deceive, may have seductive effects. The pathos and ethos of a discourse, the image of the arguer, his style, and his delivery may bedazzle a coarguer into giving his assent in a manner quite analogous to the act of seduction.

In any of these instances, the seducing arguer has lulled his respondent into lowering his guard through the argumentative equivalent of soft lights. Seducers are especially plentiful in politics and advertising, although not all politicians and not all advertisers are seducers. The Johnson Administration’s arguments to justify argiers sent U. One can, no doubt, think of many advertisements that fall into the category of argument by seduction. The attitude of the would-be seducer is indifference to the humarmess of the other person.


That is, the seducer tries to eliminate or limit his coarguer’s most distinctively hxunan power, the loers to choose with an understanding of the consequences and implications of available options.

The intent of the wouldbe seducer is to win by beguilement. Whether the seduction is consimunated, though, also depends on the role of the presumed victim. A coarguer may take any of several stances when confronted with the argument of a would-be seducer. He can be a willing victim, accepting as legitimate the seducer’s indifference, perhaps even inviting or almost compelling the seduction.

Or he can be an unwilling victim, trying hard xrguers discover the tricks of the seducer but lacking the ability to do so. In either situation, seduction is consummated. Or he can win the contest by having enough critical skills to discover and reject the ploys of the seducer. Or he can, himself, have the attitudes and intentions of a seducer, and the argument might then best be characterized as reciprocal seduction.

Or, finally, he can transform the situation into something other than seduction by changing the attitudes and atguers of the would-be seducer. A third argumentative stance may be characterized by the word love.

Lovers differ radically from rapists and seducers in their attitudes toward coarguers.

Arguers As Lovers. Wayne Brockriede – PDF

Whereas arguera rapist and seducer see a unilateral relationship toward the victim, the lover sees a bilateral relationship with a lover. Whereas the rapist and seducer look at loverd other person as an object or as a victim, the lover looks at the other person as a person. Lovers also differ radically from rapists and seducers in their intentions.

Whereas the rapist and seducer seek to establish a position of superior power, the lover wants power parity. Whereas the rapist and seducer argue against an adversary or an opponent, the lover argues with his peer and is vidlling to risk his very self in his attempt to establish a bilateral relationship. Put another way, the lover-arguer cares enough about what he is arguing about to feel the tensions of risking his self, but he cares enough about his coarguers to avoid the fanaticism that might induce him to commit rape or seduction.

Perhaps in its pure form, argumentative love is a rare commodity, but it is not a null category. Lovers and friends can. The stance of love is also at least an ideal in two other kinds of argument. One of these is philosophic argument. The kind of argument Johnstone and Qs discuss could be called argument with love. Perhaps the etymology of the word “philosopher” is significant Because a philosopher is a lover of vwsdom, perhaps he is also a lover of other people who seek it Several characteristics Johnstone and Natanson identify as necessary for philosophic argument are also necessary for argument with love.

One of these is that the philosopher asks for free assent to propositions. He is not content to force assent or to gain it through trickery.

Wayne Brockriede, Arguers as Lovers – PhilPapers

As Johnstone puts it: No philosopher worthy of the name would wish to secure assent to his position through techniques concealed from his audience. One reason for this lvoers that it would be impossible for him to evaluate such assent philosophically. A related characteristic is that a philosophic arguer wants to have only those points of view prevail that can do so in the face of the most stringent criticism possible.

Johnstone, again, makes this point strikingly: No philosophic purpose is served when a point of view prevails only because its author has silenced criticism of it through the use of techniques that are effective because they are concealed from the critics. Natanson develops this position: When I truly risk loveers in arguing I open myself to the viable possibihty that the consequence of an argument may be to make me see something of the structure of my immediate world

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