Argumentation theory and the rhetoric of assent by David Cratis Williams, Michael David Hazen

By David Cratis Williams, Michael David Hazen

Modern essays handle the crucial challenge of strength in assent rhetoric. 

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Thus we return to Barthes's observation. Most of the Wake Forest essays address this central problematicthe relationship of rational assent to powerin some fashion. A few make clear that argumentation theory inevitably becomes a "critical" practice in which criticism is taken both as a mode of theory-construction and as the telos of theory itself. A theory of argumentation would be a normative rationale for a critical praxis, an effort to resist or to recover those conditions that either retard or sustain the production and authentication of truthful, just, and effective discourse.

How is this success established? A. e. inductively. Q. But how is induction itself to be legitimated? A. e. as constituting an efficient route to the systematization of our information. The circle is clear here: systematization validates induction, induction substantiates systematization; inductive methods validate the systematizing rationale of inductive reasonings while inductive reasonings support the recourse to inductive methods. (114) Page 23 As Rescher goes on to point out, the circularity of the legitimation process and the changes in methods that may result do not weaken the reasoning process: "The circularity at issue is not vicious or vitiatingit is simply a part of that self-supportingness that is a requisite of any adequate cognitive instrumentality" (114).

Does this mean the study of argument collapses simply into a study of power? No. The Wake Forest participants clearly prefer to chart another course in linking normative theory to the study of practices. For Willard, this means defining the public sphere itself as an argument field. " This move recalls Toulmin's observation that what we take to be rationality is an attribute of the "procedures by which the concepts, judgments, and formal systems currently accepted in [human Page 12 activities] are criticized and changed" (1972, 135).

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