Location

McMaster University

Document Type

Keynote

Start Date

1-6-2005 9:00 AM

End Date

1-6-2005 5:00 PM

Abstract

My book, The Uses of Argument, has had a curious history. Its intention was not to present a new theory of rhetoric, but to prompt a reconsideration, by my colleagues, of the aims and methods of logic; in the spirit of John Dewey's book, Essays in Experimental Logic. Like David Hume's Treatise on Human Nature, it seemingly ‘fell still‑born from the press,’ and the reasons for its sales, which have continued for nearly half a century, were made clear to me only on a visit to North America, when I was told of the book's value to teachers of communication and argumentation. All in all, then, I am grateful to my U.S. and Canadian colleagues, who have taught me to think more deeply about issues I had not given proper attention to in the 1950s. To do Gilbert Ryle justice, the review of the book in Mind referred to it as ‘a revival of [Aristotle's] Topics;’ and this comment throws useful light on our discussion. The ‘general’ topics are forms that are shared by arguments in all fields of thought and action; the ‘special’ topics are those that are at home only in, for example, criminal law or molecular biology. So I will explore how we can use this meeting as an occasion to find ways of educating our fellow citizens to think more clearly about our social and political problems.

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Jun 1st, 9:00 AM Jun 1st, 5:00 PM

Reasoning in Theory and Practice

McMaster University

My book, The Uses of Argument, has had a curious history. Its intention was not to present a new theory of rhetoric, but to prompt a reconsideration, by my colleagues, of the aims and methods of logic; in the spirit of John Dewey's book, Essays in Experimental Logic. Like David Hume's Treatise on Human Nature, it seemingly ‘fell still‑born from the press,’ and the reasons for its sales, which have continued for nearly half a century, were made clear to me only on a visit to North America, when I was told of the book's value to teachers of communication and argumentation. All in all, then, I am grateful to my U.S. and Canadian colleagues, who have taught me to think more deeply about issues I had not given proper attention to in the 1950s. To do Gilbert Ryle justice, the review of the book in Mind referred to it as ‘a revival of [Aristotle's] Topics;’ and this comment throws useful light on our discussion. The ‘general’ topics are forms that are shared by arguments in all fields of thought and action; the ‘special’ topics are those that are at home only in, for example, criminal law or molecular biology. So I will explore how we can use this meeting as an occasion to find ways of educating our fellow citizens to think more clearly about our social and political problems.