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Argumentation Theory and the Rhetoric of Assent

David Williams, Michael David Hazen

Publication Year: 2006

The themes of the essays in Argumentation Theory and the Rhetoric of Assent all coalesce around the general question: "When, if ever, is assent justified?" The question immediate triggers complex and multifaceted considerations of argument and, ultimately, power. In parsing out the nature of assent, the essays take divers approaches: aesthetic and symbolist, rationalistic and formalistic, field theory, various conceptualizations of a public sphere, etc. Together, they offer an insightful exploration of an exciting new terrain argumentation studies.


Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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David Cratis Williams, Michael David Hazen

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pp. vii-viii

The essays included in this volume grew out of the Biennial Wake Forest University Argumentation Conference. Since the fall of 1982, the Department of Speech Communication and Theatre Arts at Wake Forest University and the University Debate Team have cosponsored the Argumentation Conference with the hope of establishing a recurring informal...

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1. Introduction: Argumentation Theory as Critical Practice

J. Robert Cox

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pp. 1-14

The essays in this volume explore a new and exciting terrain in argumentation studies: the relation between "assent" and social practices. The authors, participants in the Wake Forest University conferences on argumentation, have tried to be sensitive to the implications of asking, "When, if ever, is assent justified?" In doing so, they urge us to understand assent...

Part I. Rationality and Assent

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2. The Centrality of Justification: Principles of Warranted Assertability

Raymie E. McKerrow

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pp. 17-32

The principal thrust of Wayne Booth's Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent (1974) is exemplified in his observation that "being reasonable in practical affairs is more like a process of systematic assent than systematic doubt" (104, italics mine). The "social test of truth" that enables systematic assent to replace the traditional systematic doubt of Cartesian rationality...

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3. Realism and the Rhetoric of Assent

Earl Croasmun

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pp. 33-50

In his survey of rhetorical scholarship more than a decade ago, Michael Leff noted a desire of theorists to seek "Ariadne's thread," a unifying theme running through the literature, a hope that some rhetorical macro-theory will lead "into a position of theoretical clarity" (Leff 1978, 91). The clash of competing macro-theories since Leff's article makes it clear that, for many, just any thread will not do. Specifically, the metaphor of Ariadne's...

Part II. Form and Function in Assent: Descriptive Approaches

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4. An Exploration of Form and Force in Rhetoric and Argumentation

James Jasinsk

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pp. 53-68

In Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent (1974), Wayne Booth describes two broad forms of social thought, or "sects," which constitute modern consciousness. The two forms of consciousness Booth discusses are the "scientismic" and the "irrationalist" (compare these with Apel's [19791 discussion of the "Western complementarity- system" of value-free science and prerational ethical decisions). These modernist sects, and the...

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5. The Implied Arguer

Randall A. Lake

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pp. 69-90

Grounded in ethnographic fieldwork, the formative view of the nature of ritual held it to be nonrational, repetitive, largely physical action associated with primitive tribal societies. Affiliated with what Emile Durkheim ([1915] 1965, 52-57) called the "sacred" as opposed to the "profane" sphere of life, ritual was said to concern rules of appropriate conduct in the presence of sacred objects. Fundamentally religious, its rationale...

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6. Metaphor and Presence in Argument

Charles Kauffman and Donn W. Parson

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pp. 91-102

The debate over strategic policy occasioned by the Reagan Administration's defense buildup during the 1980s illustrates well the difficulty in formulating arguments that can forge a consensus on public policy. The shrillness of Administration cries for increases in strategic forces was matched by equally piercing pleas from the freeze movement for unilateral disarmament (Caldicott 1986). Each side preached its dogma, not so much...

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7. Arguments in Fiction

Michael Weiler

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pp. 103-116

In Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent, Wayne Booth finds in the rhetorical tradition an answer to the debilitating dogmatism of the modern age. For Booth, rhetoric offers a life-affirming alternative to the moral aridity of positivist science on the one hand and the moral imperialism of romantic irrationalism on the other. To serve this function, rhetoric must be a means of discovering and communicating good reasons. It must...

Part III. Form and Function in Assent: Field Studies

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8. Purpose, Argument Evaluation, and the Crisis in the Public Spher

Robert C. Rowland

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pp. 119-134

There is wide agreement that we live in a time of epistemic crisis, a crisis that seems to deny the very possibility of rational resolution of disputes within the public sphere. For instance, in Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent Wayne Booth first notes that "Attacks on reason and thought abound" (1974, ix) and later concludes that "We are a society groping for meaningful affirmation, for intellectually respectable assent. The old fai...

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9. The Problem of the Public Sphere: Three Diagnoses

Charles Arthur Willard

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pp. 135-154

The question before us is, "When, if ever, is assent justified?" Modernity's answer is that assent is justified when it comports with the prevailing consensus in a relevant expert community. Postmodernism's answer changes justified from an adjective to a verb, making the question seem to betray a false consciousness. Thus Foucault denounces the illusion of critique....

Part IV. The Turn to Critical Advocacy

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10. Cultures of Discourse: Marxism and Rhetorical Theory

James Arnt Aune

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pp. 157-172

On November 10, 1837, soon after becoming a student at the University of Berlin, Karl Marx wrote a letter to his father. The letter described the development of Marx's two great loves: for Hegel's philosophy and for his future wife, Jenny von Westphalen. There are at least two items of interest in the letter for the student of rhetoric. First, in the introduction Marx deprecated...

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11. The Rhetorical Tradition, Modern Communication, and the Grounds of Justified Assent

G. Thomas Goodnight

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pp. 173-195

A journey to the South always prompts me to reflect on the contrast between patterns of life rooted in different places. My present residence is Chicago, a city perched on the edge of an endless prairie. So different is North Carolina from this vast metropolis that the beautiful forests and towns seem part of another land, suggesting that life here somehow is comported differently. I do not mean to say that my impressions derive from the usual contrast...


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pp. 196-219


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pp. 220-221


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pp. 222-232

E-ISBN-13: 9780817390624
E-ISBN-10: 0817390626
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817305093
Print-ISBN-10: 0817305092

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2006

OCLC Number: 967521676
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Argumentation Theory and the Rhetoric of Assent