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148Philosophy and Literature Fraiman is equally comfortable writing about Hester Chapone or Bakhtin, Dilthey or Freud. Unbecoming Women will be accessible and highly useful for undergraduates while also making an important contribution to feminist and genre criticism. Haverford CollegeJulia Epstein Burdens ofProofinModern Discourse, by Richard H. Gaskins; xix & 362 pp. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993, $35.00. In this work Richard Gaskins studies die role of a particular kind of reasoning in contemporary public and professional debates: the argumentfrom -ignorance, whereby burdens of proof are assigned to one contending faction and positive inferences are derived from the lack of knowledge (x is correct until proven incorrect; y wins unless ? shows that y is wrong) . More specifically, in the first part of the book, Gaskins traces the influence of that form of argument in modern judicial practice and across a wide range of discourses exploiting jurisprudential analogies: practical logic, for example, rhetoric, organizational theory. In the second part of the book, he explores the same form of argument from a philosophical rather than legal standpoint and locates its source in Kantian dichotomies or antinomies (between facts and values, between science and ethics) . Even more specifically, Gaskins shows the importance of the argument-from-ignorance in constitutional litigation of the past tiiirty or forty years but also in Stephen Toulmin's theory of knowledge, Chaim Perelman's "new rhetoric," the critical legal studies movement, the writings ofJohn Rawls or Robert Nozick, poststructuralist critique, bioethics, and the neo-Kantian Baden and Marburg schools. The widespread use of the argument and the numerous shifts in burdens ofproof that accompany it have, in Gaskins's view, contributed to a sense of intellectual crisis, to an increasing difficulty in reaching public consensus, and—in general—to the growth of an adversarial culture that transforms "discussions into futile contests of public assertion in which there can be no real winners" (p. xiv). In the hope of restoring some degree of health to communal discourse, Gaskins argues, in his final chapter, that Hegel's dialectical logic provides ways of lessening tensions and of building a basis for broader intellectual understanding. Gaskins not only succeeds in showing the pervasiveness of the argumentfrom -ignorance in modern discourse (it is used in liberal and conservative judicial practice, for dogmatic and skeptical arguments, by revolutionaries and reactionaries) but also clarifies a number of basic conceptual oppositions (the antinomy ofbounded rationality, the conflict between finality and legitimacy), Reviews149 persuasively argues that Kant's transcendental method constitutes the foundation of contemporary polemical patterns, and sheds a great deal of light on the sudden shifts obtaining in academic inquiry and public policy debates. At times, Gaskins perhaps overstates the weight of the argument-fromignorance : for instance, it is not clear that paradigm shifts in scientific theory entail shifts in burdens of proof. At times, too, some of his interpretations of particular statements are not entirely convincing: when Wittgenstein writes that "every sentence in our language 'is in order as it is,'" for example, he is not so much sanctioning the exemplariness ofordinary language as underlining its rule-governed nature. More generally, maybe Gaskins exaggerates the negative effects of arguments-from-ignorance in the academic domain. Besides, the remedy he proposes does not inspire complete confidence—Hegel's dialectical logic works in mysterious ways! On die whole, however, Burdens ofProofin Modern Discourse constitutes a fine achievement and will be of interest to any student of reasoning strategies. University of PennsylvaniaGerald Prince Translation Theory and Practice: Reassembling the Tower, by Frederic Will; 210 pp. Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1993, $69.95. Fred Will has been translating since the early fifties, writing about translation since the early seventies—and he packs the fruit ofboth labors into the brilliant jumble of boxes that comprise this book. Will's title seems to suggest that the transgression that toppled the Tower ofBabel was the separation of translation theory from translation practice: "Translation is itself brainless," he begins by saying, "unless it expresses a cogent view of the world—the translator's world— while translation theory, cut off from the translating act, is as sterile as the theory of lovemaking when it is cut off from the act" (p. 1...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 148-149
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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