Argument as Cognition: A Putnamian Criticism of Dale Hample’s Cognitive Conception of Argument

Research paper by Louise Cummings

Indexed on: 01 Sep '04Published on: 01 Sep '04Published in: Argumentation

Abstract

The study of argument has never before been so wide-ranging. The evidence for this claim is to be found in a growing number of different conceptions of argument, each of which purports to describe some component of argument that is effectively over-looked by other conceptions of this notion. Just this same sense that a vital component of argument is being overlooked by current conceptions of this notion is what motivates Dale Hample to pursue a specifically cognitive conception of argument. However, Hample’s contribution to the study of argument extends beyond his development of a view of argument as cognition. For Hample is reflective on the interrelationship of his cognitive conception of argument to two other views of argument within which most conceptions of this notion may be taken to fall, the traditional view of argument as a “textual product“ and the view of argument as a social phenomenon. I will argue, however, that what starts out as a well-intentioned aim on the part of Hample to pursue a comprehensive analysis of the notion of argument ends in the circumscription of this concept through Hample ‘s denial of the primacy of argument. I will also argue that a circumscribed concept of argument is an unintelligible concept of argument. The context of my claims will be a similar charge of unintelligibility by Hilary Putnam against a logical positivistic conception of rationality.