Argumentatively Evil Storytelling

In D. Mohammend & M. Lewinski (eds.), Argumentation and Reasoned Action: Proceedings of the 1st European Conference on Argumentation, Lisbon 2015, Vol. 1. College Publications. pp. 615-630 (2016)
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Abstract

What can make storytelling “evil” in the sense that the storytelling leads to accepting a view for no good reason, thus allowing ill-reasoned action? I mean the storytelling can be argumentatively evil, not trivially that (e.g.) the overt speeches of characters can include bad arguments. The storytelling can be argumentatively evil in that it purveys false premises, or purveys reasoning that is formally or informally fallacious. My main thesis is that as a rule, the shorter the fictional narrative, the greater the potential for argumentative evil. Here, the notion of length is to be understood such that it is generally a proxy for more abstract features such as how complex and nuanced the piece is. In other argumentative contexts, length generally appears to make no comparable difference. This feature would put fictional narrative arguments in a special class beyond what is determined by obvious features, such as the definitional fact that they in some way(s) collapse two of the four traditional types of discourse: exposition, description, narration, and argument. The nonobvious features that distinguish this class have been a source of puzzlement and inquiry.

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Author's Profile

Gilbert Edward Plumer
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (PhD)

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