Article published in:Exploring Argumentative Contexts
Edited by Frans H. van Eemeren and Bart Garssen
[Argumentation in Context 4] 2012
► pp. 23–42
Chapter 2. Values as premises in practical arguments
Conceptions of justice in the public debate over bankers’ bonuses
The paper focuses on a fragment of the public debate (in the UK) on whether or not the inequality of high pay and bonuses for bankers should be tolerated or not in the wake of the financial crisis. Our discussion builds on the view of the structure of practical arguments we advance in our forthcoming book (Fairclough & Fairclough forthcoming), i.e. practical arguments take goal, value, circumstantial and means-goal premises. Drawing on Searle’s (2010) view of the construction of social reality, we advance the view that values enter practical arguments in two ways: as actual concerns (what people actually value, or ‘desire-dependent’ reasons) and as objective, socially recognized, institutional facts (‘desire-independent’ reasons). The former type of reason constitutes the value premise which underlies the goal premise. The latter is part of the circumstantial premise: it is a fact that can motivate action but does not always do so: agents may choose to disregard commitments (values) that they are otherwise bound by. The typical argument in favour of ‘tolerating inequality’ is a prudential argument based on people’s alleged actual interests and concerns: inequality allegedly serves the common good. The moral argument against inequality starts from a normative concern for justice but also from the state’s commitment to justice as an institutional fact. The UK government, for example, is publicly committed to justice and has a duty to act justly, whether it is actually concerned to act justly or not.
Published online: 28 March 2012
Cited by 4 other publications
No author info given
Palmieri, Rudi & Sabrina Mazzali-Lurati
Van Loon, Aukje
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