Monday, June 13, 2016

Unclear Distinctions

Hey Everyone,

I hope we're all ready for tomorrow. I noticed some terms that were difficult to distinguish from one another and am hoping others will benefit from clarification as much as me.

1. We're asked to define claim twice on the review sheet, once in 1(beside argument) and again in 8 (in relation to the Toulmin Schema). How do the two definitions differ? In 1, is a claim simply an utterance or statement? And how is it different from a proposition? I understand in the Toulmin Schema a claim includes a thesis, qualifiers, and exceptions. I also understand that a proposition is a description of a state of affairs that qualifies as true or false. Can't a claim be a description (It is raining), and couldn't it be true or false?

And where does premise fall in all this? Can't a premise claim, just as proposition may, and be evaluated the same as its two counterparts? Also, why would a premise be any different from a conclusion if a premise concludes unstated warrants in order to get to other conclusions? Wouldn't every argument and conclusion (which indefinitely relies on premises) be Petitio Principii because argument assumes the premises as conclusions and the conclusions as premises. Arguments and questions already presuppose an answer merely by arguing and stating, it can only reach as far as the argument or question itself. Argument, conclusions, questions, return only to verify their initial endeavor and never really get beyond themselves... right?

2. What's the difference between a scheme and schema? Is it only grammatical (pl. and singular)? Also, how is trope different from scheme? The definitions are almost exactly alike, and I don't see how deviating from the ordinary is different from deviating from convention.

3. And what about metonymy and synecdoche? If metonymy is relation through contact and synecdoche parts and wholes, how can the two definitions remain distinct when relation itself depends on contact, when relation itself is necessarily a part or greater than the part it's related to?

4. Paronomasia (pun), isocolon, and auxesis. The ex. for paronomasia is, "Some folks are wise, some folks are otherwise." If paronomasia is word play, isn't this also a repetition of grammatical form and thus a isocolon? And isn't repetition always amplification and therefore auxesis? This is not the only example, nor the only terms, that overlap.

5. Enthymeme vs. Argument. On 6/8, Enthymeme is defined as a claim supported by reasons, while on 5/25 an argument is defined as a claim supported by reasons and/or evidence. Does only evidence distinguish enthymeme and argument? Does an enthymeme rely more on syllogism? And if deduction, like Dale said on 6/8, relies on the syllogism, how is it different from an enthymeme?

6. Lastly, are formal, logical fallacies confined to denying the antecedent and affirming the consequent? Can one commit a logical fallacy by affirming the antecedent or denying the consequent?

I hope this is helpful and not confusing!


4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am looking in my notes and all I see for the Carl Roger's Principles of Communication is 2 points, when the study sheet asks for 5. I understand this is different from the Rogerian Synthesis provided by Young, Becker, and Pike. For the Principles of Communication I have 1) Threat hinders communications 2) Making strong statements of opinion stimulates an audience to respond with strong opinions. Does anyone know the other 3?

Kevin M said...

3. Bias language increases threat while neutral language decreases it.
4. One reduces threat if one shows she understands her opponent's position , or shows she's at least trying to.
5. Trust enhances communication.

Dale Carrico said...

This is too late to be helpful for the mid-term (I just saw your question), but your questions are mostly of a theoretical nature and shouldn't impact practical preparation for the exam in any case...

"The Toulmin Schema" is like "Rogerian Synthesis" in that it is just a technical term of art used by rhetorical scholars to describe a particular model of argument associated with Stephen Toulmin and Carl Rogers. Scheme and trope have been terms used by rhetoricians quite a bit longer than that to describe the difference between figures that turn on meaning as against those that draw attention to material form. We have to go back to the Roman rhetorician Quintilian (if not Aristotle even earlier) for the beginnings of our own formulation -- although, I warn you, he actually reversed some of the terms we assign to these notions even though his formulation is key to our own! Anyway, these figurative schemes have no formal connection to the Toulmin's Schema. Of course there is an etymological connection, and I can see how that might seem mildly confusing when you're getting bombarded with so much terminology all at once. But of course the tradition is very old and meandering and we are drawing our tools from all over the place, it is not surprising there there is some terminological overlap and tension here and there.

I guess your question about a "claim" is rather similar. I defined argument on our first day as a claim supported by reasons/evidence. The "claim" in Toulmin's schema fleshes out this definition a bit, with his own emphasis, adding qualifiers and exceptions, and were we to go even deeper more elaborated versions of Toulmin's Schema do indeed connect the claim to propositional analysis, and enthymeme oor syllogism. As I promised at the beginning, the whole class might be understood as digging deeper and deeper and pressuring the terms -- including "claim" -- of tht initial definition of argument. For the purposes of the mid-term, though, I tried and I hope I succeeded in making it pretty clear when Toulmin's Schema (as I taught it in class) was what I was asking for or whether something more general is what I had in mind.

Dale Carrico said...


I think the question about metonymy and synecdoche is easier to deal with. If I say San Francisco or London is "the City" part of what I mean is that the urbanity of these two particular cities can stand for what is quintessential of all cities in a way, the set of cities includes San Francisco but there is a way San Francisco connects to what it is that all cities are about. When a spokesperson says that I am speaking for the crown (meaning the sovereign who wears the crown) the touching of the crown and the sovereign creates the association that drives the figurative substitution of one for the other -- but unless the crown is say a plastic bubble on Lady GaGa's head, continuity need not also be a surrounding containment. In the synecdochic all hands on deck the hand which is a part stands for the whole that is the sailor -- in the metonymic six sailor hats walked the plank the hat that touches the sailor's head stands for the sailor on whose head the hat rests.

You are right that many figures can operate simultaneously -- which means that when we choose one particular figurative term to describe them we are partly saying something about US as well, we are declaring which of these operations is producing what feels to us like the most striking force. One of the reasons I tried to do figures in a matching section was to assist you by process of elimination to overcome any such ambiguities.

As I said, our original definition of argument was a loose one to give us room to play with it. Last week I gave you a new definition from the perspective of propositional analysis that takes us right into the belly of the Aristotelian beast of the enthymeme. This isn't a better definition, just one with a more specific focus. It is Aristotle who proposed that every enthymeme draws its compulsive power from the underlying syllogism into which it can be translated. As for formal fallacies -- I gave you two (and presented equivocation as a kind of way station between them). You are right -- there are more. In an eight week version of our class I would have treated to rather more on that topic. I don't know if that makes you frustrated or relieved at what you have missed!

Hope this conversation was enjoyable and illuminating, d