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Defining Reasoning

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  • W C Adams
      Yes, I remember well those sessions where high-powered people use polemics and prolix to obfuscate any concept.  It is interesting how we can use reasoning
    Message 1 of 2 , May 5, 2013
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      Yes, I remember well those sessions where high-powered people use polemics and prolix to obfuscate any concept.  It is interesting how we can use reasoning to distort as Korzybski illustrated.  Of course, Korzybski added to our difficulty in understanding reasoning because he equated the processes of distortion with ‘abstraction.’  It is essential for us to understand ‘abstraction’ as Hayakawa used the term if we are to understand reasoning.  When we maintain a negative connotation for the concept, we have a barrier to our understanding of reasoning.  Another major barrier worth mentioning is the commonly heard advice, ‘never assume.’  We honor this advice which is based on a pun!?  We might as well conclude that ice capades are drinks that result from global warming and that a therapist will rape us. 
      While the manifestations of reasoning are far ranging, usually complication and often distorted, the essence of the process is relatively simple.  From Aristotle to Whewell and Mill to Adams, ‘reasoning’ has been defined with inference at its core; yes, ‘inference’ can be a synonym for ‘an assumption.’  An inference is an abstract (in Hayakawa’s positive sense of the word) bridge that links something we think we know with something that is less known.  Reasoning, then, is the use of an inference to link something we think we know, to some degree, (even hypothetically) with something of which we (or someone else) are (is) less certain.
                  To me, the importance of the inference follows I. A. Richards’, ‘All communication is metaphorical.’  Whenever we listen, we think we understand (or that we don’t) because the symbols we process permit us to infer (or not) that these symbols mean something that is familiar (or not) to meanings they’ve had in the past.  Communication distinguishes itself from sign behavior, reflex, habit etc. because it is inferential.  We need to protect the definition of reasoning as grounded in the inferential process because that process is the crux of our discipline.  Communication is, at its heart, reasoning.
      If you are interested in gaining a better understanding of the traditional definition of reasoning, see my paper on reasoning terminology and chapter 3 from my textbook, both on my website, www.wca-refracted.com.  Chapter 21 in that text diagrams the argument for communication being reasoning.
      Thanks again for giving me the opening to expand on my ideas.

      From: K. Walker <swalkerk@...>
      To: notify-dg-americancomm@yahoogroups.com; Qq <americancomm@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Saturday, May 4, 2013 4:43 PM
      Subject: Re: [americancomm] Digest Number 1471
      I recently took the incentive to be a part of a Top 5, Masterx27;s (Philosophy) Methodology Reading group. Just so happens, during one of the gatherings, there was a big discussionx2F;question regarding reasoning. What defines reasoning? What is reason? And parameters, formulas for determining (scientific) reasoning, for the ages. Still no answer (lol) :) Ms. Kaila S. Walker, Akron x27;99 BABOC, CPC, MSP Candidate Communicationx27;s Consultant Atlanta, GA Ph. 404-484-6380 E. swalkerk@...
      From: americancomm@yahoogroups.com <americancomm@yahoogroups.com>; To: <americancomm@yahoogroups.com>; Subject: [americancomm] Digest Number 1471 Sent: Thu, May 2, 2013 11:38:12 AM

      1 New Message

      Digest #1471
      Re: Feeback on Analogy Example by "W C Adams" clifton_adams


      Wed May 1, 2013 7:16 am (PDT) . Posted by:

      "W C Adams" clifton_adams

      Ms. Walker,     Thank you for your contribution to our discussion.     I’m sorry that you think my question was part of a research effort.  I can’t imagine what prompted that conclusion.  I never thought of this forum as a place to do research but as an opportunity to discriminate information and to stimulate discussion, the latter being the intent in this case.  So, I do appreciate your contribution toward that end.    The original post presented a hypothetical situation, but one with which many in the audience is familiar.  It asked for a judgment, using a rubric, as is often the case to standardize the process, to the validity of an example.  The rubric used in the question is really quite standard for ‘reasoning from analogy,’ clearly within Communication, but I’d say in related disciplines as well.  It is the definition presented in every basic speech-communicatio n book that gives a definition of reasoning from analogy.            If the question were asked in an actual test situation, the scorer would be asked to indicate whether the student’s example met the criterion.  It is my belief that most, probably 100%, of professional scorer would indicate that the student’s example is incorrect; that believe has now been confirmed by two respondents to my question.  Given that believe, I have to ask, “Why does that example of ‘analogy’ continue to appear in a public-speaking textbook edition after edition?”  I wrote to the lead author of the textbook about problems with the text and was told that over the years and the many editions, the many reviewers, etc. that I’m the only one who sees any problems with the treatment of reasoning.            So, you’re perception that there is a motive behind the question it true.  I thought that was a given in a discussion forum.  And, I did select the weakest link in the treatment of reasoning among the mainstream texts in speech communication.  However, if the reviewers aren’t even catching such glaring problems, it’s reasonable to ask what they are doing.  In my paper on reasoning terminology on my website, I discuss other problems; but, if I’m the only one who sees any of them (which clearly I’m not), it is easy for the authors to cast me as a deviate.  I felt the need to get past that challenge in order to advance the discussion to more substantive issues.       So, thanks again for giving me a forum to present my position. cliftonhttp://www.wca-refracted.com/       From: swalkerk <swalkerk@yahoo. com> To: americancomm@ yahoogroups. com Sent: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 9:45 PM Subject: [americancomm] Re: Feeback on Analogy Example   RESPONDING TO THE Q&A: The question lends itself to be 'open' and broad. Is there a particular theory or discipline that the thought/answer should be generated in? The answer, if it is to be an answer, would have to be concluded, right? "You could reason" , as an preemptive would cause me to be reluctant in including it in research. The -rubric- seems calculating and divisive, as well as casts an unfavorable appeal to the tone of the question. If I am to be made to agree, should the question not be a question but rather a provocation of: to what degree. Ms. Kaila S. Walker, BABOC, CPC, MSP Candidate Communication 39;s Consultant Atlanta, GA Ph. 404-484-6380 E. mailto:swalkerk% 40yahoo.com --- In mailto:americancomm %40yahoogroups. com, Jon Ru <jru2797@ ...> wrote: > > I'm not positive, but I think that example is more about cause -- phone bans caused child injury reduction in two places and could cause reduction elsewhere.  The particular state is irrelevant here, they're only mentioned because states have/make laws.  For me, the analogy case would need to be built around similarities between the three states.  Something like IA is analogous to MO and FL in terms of population density, cel phone usage patterns, injury rates, etc., so regulation that is effective in MO and FL is likely to be effective in IA.  That said, analogies are frequently weaker arguments than causal arguments.  A clear and established cause-effect chain is great evidence, whereas analogies can be drawn between any two things.  All things are similar to all other things across multiple variables, some will be relevant and some won't, but a cause-effect chain links specific phenomena across time.  FYI, NJ bans phones for all people > who are driving.  Happy Thursday!  Jon  > > > > ____________ _________ _________ __ > From: W C Adams <clifton_ adams@... > > To: "mailto: americancomm% 40yahoogroups. com" <mailto:american comm%40yahoogrou ps.com> > Sent: Thursday, April 25, 2013 9:31 PM > Subject: [americancomm] Feeback on Analogy Example > > >   > >   >             I’ve been assured by two members of this organization that I’d get feedback from you (more so than from posts on CRTnet).  So, I submit to you the following hypothetical situation to see how much agreement among us there is to the following.  Freely submit whatever discussion you’d like along with your answer.  You may submit either publically or to me directly if you prefer. >      Pretend you’re working for someone from Princeton and, in scoring written answers, you come across the following: > Q:  What would be a clear and complete example of reasoning from analogy? > A:  “You could reason that because bans on using cell phones while driving in school zones have reduced the number of children being injured in Missouri and Florida, those laws should be instituted in Iowa.â€� > Please rate the answer using the following rubric: > Excellent â€" Example shows clearly that two things are alike in known ways and reasons that the two things will be the same in an unknown way. > Good -- Example only suggests that two things are similar and therefore may be similar in unknown ways.  It should be more explicit to be clear and complete. > Inadequate â€" Example claims that since something produced a positive effect in two cases it should be institutuded in a third case.  It more clearly reflects reasoning from cause that analogy. >   > w. clifton adams > clifton_adams@ ... > http://www.wca-refracted.com/ >
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