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What Virtue Argumentation Theory Misses: The Case of Compathetic Argumentation

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Abstract

While deductive validity provides the limiting upper bound for evaluating the strength and quality of inferences, by itself it is an inadequate tool for evaluating arguments, arguing, and argumentation. Similar remarks can be made about rhetorical success and dialectical closure. Then what would count as ideal argumentation? In this paper we introduce the concept of cognitive compathy to point in the direction of one way to answer that question. It is a feature of our argumentation rather than my argument or your argument. In that respect, compathy is like the harmonies achieved by an accomplished choir, the spontaneous coordination of athletic teamwork, or the experience of improvising jazz musicians when they are all in the flow together. It is a characteristic of arguments, not a virtue that can be attributed to individual arguers. It makes argumentation more than just the sum of its individual parts. The concept of cognitive compathy is brought into focus by locating it at the confluence of two lines of thought. First, we work up to the concept of compathy by contrasting it with empathy and sympathy in the context of emotions, which is then transplanted into epistemic, cognitive, and argumentative soil. Second, the concept is analytically linked to ideal argumentation by way of authenticity in communication. In the final section, we explore the extent to which argumentative virtues are conducive to producing compathetic argumentation, but reach the unhappy conclusion that the extra value of compathetic argumentation also transcends the evaluative reach of virtue argumentation theory.

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... As we saw above, Kloster argued that when social trust is absent, this deepens disagreement. Along similar lines, Cohen and Miller (2016) suggest that ideal arguments feature cognitive compathy, which is understood as "a phenomenon in ideal arguments when arguers are on the same page, genuinely engaging, doing it welland doing it together" (Cohen and Miller 2016). The relevant form of cognitive sharing that occurs when cognitive compathy is present is best facilitated, according to these authors, by cultivating the virtue of open-mindedness, but is also dependent on the "subject matter, the context, and the personal chemistry of the arguers" (Cohen and Miller 2016). ...
... As we saw above, Kloster argued that when social trust is absent, this deepens disagreement. Along similar lines, Cohen and Miller (2016) suggest that ideal arguments feature cognitive compathy, which is understood as "a phenomenon in ideal arguments when arguers are on the same page, genuinely engaging, doing it welland doing it together" (Cohen and Miller 2016). The relevant form of cognitive sharing that occurs when cognitive compathy is present is best facilitated, according to these authors, by cultivating the virtue of open-mindedness, but is also dependent on the "subject matter, the context, and the personal chemistry of the arguers" (Cohen and Miller 2016). ...
... Along similar lines, Cohen and Miller (2016) suggest that ideal arguments feature cognitive compathy, which is understood as "a phenomenon in ideal arguments when arguers are on the same page, genuinely engaging, doing it welland doing it together" (Cohen and Miller 2016). The relevant form of cognitive sharing that occurs when cognitive compathy is present is best facilitated, according to these authors, by cultivating the virtue of open-mindedness, but is also dependent on the "subject matter, the context, and the personal chemistry of the arguers" (Cohen and Miller 2016). This suggests that virtues that foster group cohesion and felicitous social conditions are important for argumentation, as well as virtues of self-control that are conducive to those social conditions. ...
Article
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... The fourth benefit arises from vulnerability's alignment with a normative conception of argument as compathetic (Cohen and Miller 2016). Cohen and Miller (2016) introduce the ideal of compathetic arguments as "organic unities, wholes whose values are more than the sums of their parts" (p 454). Compathetic argumentation acknowledges that the adversariality of disagreement contributes to people's experience of arguing but contends that while disagreement can be part of an argument, agreement must also be present for it to be meaningful. ...
Article
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When people argue, they are vulnerable to unwanted and costly changes in their beliefs. This vulnerability motivates the position that belief involuntarism makes argument inherently adversarial (Casey, Informal Log 40:77–108, 2020), as well as the development of alternatives to adversarial argumentation such as “invitational rhetoric” (Foss and Griffin, Commun Monogr 62:2–18, 1995). The emphasis on involuntary belief change in such accounts, in our perspective, neglects three dimensions of arguing: the diversity of arguer intentions, audience agency, and the benefits of belief change. The complex impact of arguments on both audiences and arguers involves vulnerabilities related to various forces of argument, not just the intellectual force of premise-conclusion complexes. Shifting emphasis from adversariality to vulnerability, we propose a more holistic understanding of argument, in which vulnerability reveals various sources of strength and opportunity in addition to risk.
... Resolving a disagreement on its merits requires compliance with an array of procedural and substantive norms. The following account of shared deliberation's norms draws on major philosophical theories of idealised argumentation and deliberative virtue, from the classical (Bentley 2005;Plato 1997;White 1983) to the modern (Aberdein 2010;Cohen 2009;Cohen and Miller 2016;Eemeren and Grootendorst 2003;Schreier, Groeben, and Christmann 1995;Thorson 2016), as well as theories of dialogue and ethics of communication (Johannesen 1971;Keller and Brown 1968). ...
... Constructing the collective good requires strong commitment to the shared practice and the over-arching purpose, in the face of what are often strong reasons to defect (defensiveness, status, 'winning'). Cohen and Miller (2016) flesh out this unique collectivity through their idea of cognitive compathy, understood (as an analogue to empathy), as the state of two or more people sharing a cognitive statenot because one has copied it from the other, but because, through their collective argument, they have constructed shared knowledge, understanding and meaning. Cohen and Miller (2016, 451, 55) draw analogies to other similarly collective pursuits, such as jazz musicians improvising together. ...
Article
Contemporary argumentation theory has developed an impressive array of norms, goals and virtues applicable to ideal argument. But what is the moral status of these prescriptions? Is an interlocutor who fails to live up to these norms guilty of a moral failing as well as an epistemic or cognitive error? If so, why? In answering these questions, I argue that deliberation’s epistemic and cognitive goods attach to important ethical goods, and that respect for others’ rationality, the ethics of joint action, and the importance of consensus join forces with these goods to provide strong reasons for cleaving to high standards of argument. I sketch an illustrative continuum of argument practices of different deliberative-cum-ethical standards, and consider how one should ethically respond when faced with an interlocutor employing less than ideal standards.
... In its turn, Govier's attempt to salvage a concept of minimum adversariality generated a flurry of responses. They concentrated, to a large part, on two related questions: Whether and how cooperative argumentation can be developed further Battersby 2010, 2016;Cohen 2015;Cohen and Miller 2016), and whether and what kinds of adversariality are conceptually, pragmatically, or normatively necessary for argumentation. The latter question was tackled in typical adversarial form. ...
... See, among others,Aberdein and Cohen (2016),Cohen and Miller (2016),Estlund (2014),Gaus (2016),Hundleby (2013), Staffel (2019), andStemplowska and Swift (2012) for recent discussion on the role of ideals in ethics, epistemology and argumentation theory.Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved. ...
Article
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Thesis
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Chapter
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Chapter
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