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The persuasion-knowledge gap

Historically, dialectics is the general method of (early) philosophy. The philosophy rhetoric controversy of modern dialectics (or argumentation theory) is reducible to a persuasion-knowledge gap. It's addressed in five parts. First, disputes in discourse (dialectics). Critical discussion or debate involves disagreement and contention. An agent's position on an issue includes an opinion (or claim) and ground. A ground is strategically developed in a contest of strengths using psycho-social influence and persuasion. This depends on the conveyance of meaning. Dispute resolution occurs where there is preponderance and a dominant position. The remaining parts selectively elaborate this framework. Second, persuasion (rhetoric). Persuasion involves the use of appeals e.g. rhetorical devices, arguments etc. to influence the propositional attitudes of agents. A hormic-hedonic infrastructure of mind suggests that psycho-social influence occurs through interest-satisfaction and results in an attitude (acceptance-withholding or rejection) toward a proposition. An agents internally operate according to an opinion-persuasion relation with thresholds, which most likely belong to the class of sigmoid functions. Benchmarks (thresholds) are set by a standard of establishment or proof. Satisfying a good standard is a preferred condition for action. Third, reason (dianoetics). Reason is impassioned rationally-principled semi -- autonomous intellect. The hormic-hedonic infrastructure of mind suggests it's a source (ideas) and an influence (pro-rational passions). Rationality rests on concepts and principles that regulate conduct (thought, feeling and action). Rational discourse isn't fully understood game-theoretically. A jurisprudential metaphor offers proof-based decision-making as an approach. Fourth, conduct (strategics). The aim of dispute involves both persuasion and dominance in a contest of strength. Arguments are an important class of appeals; they have cogency as their strength attribute. Strategically, conduct involves argumentative strategic criticism. A universal argumentation scheme describes conduct generally and is the basis for strength aggregates. Ideally, dispute resolution occurs when one position satisfies the standard of establishment or proof. Game-theoretically, establishment- or proof-based decision-making involves scores, voting and Arrow's theorem. Fifth, the dialectics of alethic inquiry (epistemics). This is the application of dialectics to claims. Internally, they are beliefs or knowledge. Difficulties (e.g. the Gettier challenge) with the standard justified true belief (JTB) model leads to alternatives like cognitivism, gradualism and thresholdism. What is proposed is an open contested certified true belief model that makes use of a claim-persuasion relation with thresholds. It is underwritten by a progressive rational regimentation of influences that is naturally based on a common ground of pragmatic reliabilism. This requires a preference for persuasive over non-persuasive influences. Thus, knowledge is belief with proof where proof-based decision-making rests on the cogency of arguments and case. Finally, by bridging the persuasion-knowledge gap, the philosophy-rhetoric controversy is settled and a reconciliation of philosophy (representing dialectics) and rhetoric is achieved. Rhetoric is a sub-discipline of dialectics. An implication is a denial of the incommensurability of theories associated with critical discussion and debate in discourse.
Date January 2007
CreatorsForshaw, Michael, School of Philosophy, UNSW
Source SetsAustraliasian Digital Theses Program
Detected LanguageEnglish

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