Location

McMaster University

Document Type

Paper

Start Date

1-6-2005 9:00 AM

End Date

1-6-2005 5:00 PM

Abstract

This paper examines Andrei Sakharov's dissident protests against the Soviet regime as arguments to a non-cooperating interlocutor. Approaching the 1970s-1980s Soviet dissident public sphere as a Toulminian ‘field’ of argumentation, I infer a field-dependent function of Sakharov's argument from an analysis of its structure and implicit assessment criteria. Besides justification, the function of Sakharov’s argument is performative: he argues for political action by demonstrating a model of practical reasoning that raises private consciousness to the level of public agency. By exposing his own political rationality as a ‘live’ mode of proof for the speculative ‘truth’ of his conviction, Sakharov suggests a connection between theoretical thinking and action.

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

A Reason for Reasoning? Theorizing the Function of Public Argument through an Analysis of Dissident Protest

McMaster University

This paper examines Andrei Sakharov's dissident protests against the Soviet regime as arguments to a non-cooperating interlocutor. Approaching the 1970s-1980s Soviet dissident public sphere as a Toulminian ‘field’ of argumentation, I infer a field-dependent function of Sakharov's argument from an analysis of its structure and implicit assessment criteria. Besides justification, the function of Sakharov’s argument is performative: he argues for political action by demonstrating a model of practical reasoning that raises private consciousness to the level of public agency. By exposing his own political rationality as a ‘live’ mode of proof for the speculative ‘truth’ of his conviction, Sakharov suggests a connection between theoretical thinking and action.