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EthicsSpeaking of justice, I have not, within the allotted space, been able to render it to this excellent book. Garver's arguments are intricate, sensitive, and frequently witty. His case is well made.
— Mark Kingwell
What role does reason play in our lives? What role should it play? And are claims to rationality liberating or oppressive? For the Sake of Argument addresses questions such as these to consider the relationship between thought and character. Eugene Garver brings Aristotle's Rhetoric to bear on practical reasoning to show how the value of such thinking emerges when members of communities deliberate together, persuade each other, and are persuaded by each other. That is to say, when they argue.
Garver roots deliberation and persuasion in political friendship instead of a neutral, impersonal framework of justice. Through incisive readings of examples in modern legal and political history, from Brown v. Board of Education to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, he demonstrates how acts of deliberation and persuasion foster friendship among individuals, leading to common action amid diversity. In an Aristotelian sense, there is a place for pathos and ethos in rational thought. Passion and character have as pivotal a role in practical reasoning as logic and language.
— Mark Kingwell
— Thornton C. Lockwood, Jr.
"People acquainted with Garver''s previous books . . . will find in this one the same scholarly carefulness, depth of historical understanding, and philosophical acumen, in both the ethical and meta-ethical domain. Readers not acquainted with his previous work will find this book an enticing and original introduction to rhetoric, ethics, and argumentation."
— Maurice A. Finocchiaro
What must our condition be if the appeals that rhetoricians make to a real though contested truth and justice-appeals that transcend mere interest and power, like the arguments of mathematicians, but unlike them can never definitively be resolved-are to be possible at all? And what must the human condition be if the securing of our beliefs regarding truth and justice in the middle realm of politics and law is to depend upon an artful mobilization of the passions that is always also capable of producing the opposite result?
In one sense . . . to be rational is to be methodical: that is, to have criteria for success laid down in advance.. . . The other meaning is "sane" or "reasonable" rather than "methodical." It names a set of moral virtues: tolerance, respect for the opinions of those around one, willingness to listen, reliance on persuasion rather than force. These are the virtues which members of a civilized society must possess if the society is to endure. In this sense of "rational," the word means something more like "civilized" than like "methodical."The two meanings pose a nice dilemma. Unless practical reason follows the scientific method by laying out neutral standards in advance, to call rationality a mark of civilization is simply to congratulate ourselves and look down on the opposition as irrational. But the methodical and the civil seem to have little in common. If we can't overcome that dilemma, then scientific reason and reasoning as a cover for desire will be the only alternatives.
In concrete reasonings we are in great measure thrown back into that condition, from which logic proposed to rescue us. We judge for ourselves, by our own lights, and on our own principles.. . . It is this distinction between ratiocination as the exercise of a living faculty in the individual intellect, and mere skill in argumentative science, which is the true interpretation of the prejudice which exists against logic in the popular mind, and of the animadversions which are leveled against it, as that its formulas make a pedant and a doctrinaire, that it never makes converts, that it leads to rationalism, that Englishmen are too practical to be logical, that an ounce of common-sense goes farther than many cartloads of logic, that Laputa is the land of logicians, and the like.Understanding practical reasoning as "the exercise of a living faculty in the individual intellect" is the purpose of this book. Reasoning as the exercise of a living faculty is ethical reasoning. We shouldn't infer that when method fails us, reason fails us too. Like eros, praxis is a great leveler.
Friendship would seem to hold cities together, and legislators would seem to be more concerned about it than about justice. For concord would seem to be similar to friendship and legislators aim at concord above all, while they try above all to expel civil conflict, which is enmity. Further, if people are friends, they have no need of justice, but if they are just they need friendship in addition; and the justice that is most just seems to belong to friendship. (VIII.1.1155a22-29)Starting in the first chapter, I will take issue with the modern view that bargaining between strangers should be the model for practical reason, and instead take deliberation between friends for my paradigm. Like friendship and unlike justice, practical reason is not rule-governed, not, in Rorty's term, methodical. Justice might make claims of universality, but practical reason, like friendship, is context-sensitive without becoming irrational. The Platonic hope of replacing ethical reasoning by the certainties of science aspires to substitute the neutrality and objectivity of justice for the informal and negotiable bonds of friendship. Aristotle's pair, justice and friendship, relate to each other as Rorty's methodical relates to the civilized. Practical reason and rhetoric can flourish when the civilized has enough power to resist reduction to the methodical.
Those who have composed arts of speech have worked on only a small part of the subject; for only pisteis [proofs] are artistic (other things are supplementary), and these writers say nothing about enthymemes, which is the "body" of persuasion (so¯ma te¯s piste¯us), while they give most of their attention to matters external to the subject, for verbal attack and pity and anger and such emotions do not relate to fact but are appeals to the juryman. (I.1.1354a11-17)If I get you to do what I want by tainting your water supply, I haven't persuaded you of anything. If my manipulations of your emotions make your assent involuntary, then you aren't persuaded either. There is no community between us, no rationality in our interchange, and so no civility.
[There is persuasion] through character (ethos) whenever the speech is spoken in such a way as to make the speaker worthy of credence (axiopiston); for we believe (pisteuomen) fair-minded people to a greater extent and more quickly [than we do others] on all subjects in general and completely so in cases where there is not exact knowledge (akribes) but room for doubt.. . . Character is almost the controlling factor in persuasion. (I.2.1356a5-13)Third, however, ethos derives its authority from reasoning. The ethos of preexistent reputation, of tradition or charisma, might be persuasive, but an ethos created by the speech rationally integrates is and ought. Having a trustworthy and credible character emerges through the practice of reasoned argument. The more rational and ethical a speaker, the friendlier the relations between speaker and hearer. Conversely, the friendlier we are, the more we understand emotional appeals as rational. Aristotle's relation between friendship and justice is a model for the relation between character and thought. Friendship exceeds justice, especially legal justice, but is never unjust. Ethos exceeds reason but is never irrational. The road to political friendship is through justice, and the road to rhetorical ethos is through reasoning:
Butthis confidence must be due to the speech (logos) itself, not to any preconceived idea of the speaker's character. For it is not the case, as some writers of rhetorical treatises lay down in their "art," that the worth of the orator in no way contributes to his powers of persuasion; on the contrary, ethos constitutes the most authoritative means of proof (pistis). (I.2.1356a8-13; emphasis mine)I propose to present examples of practical reasoning as the exercise of a living faculty, and to look for the enabling and destroying conditions of ethical argument. I draw many of my examples from legal argument because law is such a rich field for the interactions of the rational and the ethical. In law, at least the appearance of rationality is obligatory. We can ask how superficial that appearance is, as I will do in chapter 2. South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education, and Phillip Bobbitt's pluralism of constitutional interpretation are a series of moments in which legal reasoning becomes ethical by concerning itself not only with what the law says but with how the law represents justice. We abandon the certainties of method for the ethical gains of friendship, and so we find out what the law is by determining what the law should be. Legalism, aiming at agreement, and seeking a modus vivendi or law without friendship require ethical virtues of self-restraint. Aiming at truth and friendly justice require virtues of commitment that are more fully rational and ethical than the virtues of self-restraint.
Excerpted from For the Sake of Argument: Practical Reasoning, Character, and the Ethics of Belief by Eugene Garver Copyright © 2004 by Eugene Garver. Excerpted by permission.
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Introduction: Rhetoric and Practical Reason
1. Truth in Politics: Ethical Argument, Ethical Knowledge, and Ethical Truth
2. Confronting the Sophist
3. Brown v. Board of Education as a Paradigm of Practical Reason
4. The Ethical Criticism of Reasoning
5. Rhetorical Argument and Ethical Authority
6. The Will To Be Believed
7. Taking Reasoning Seriously: Rhetoric, Hermeneutics, and Practical Reason in the Interpretation of the Constitution
8. Rhetoric and the Unity of Practical Reason