Inferential Dialectics: On Dialectical Reasoning in Critical Social Science and the Socio-Cultural World
This chapter forms part of a programme aimed at developing a novel cognitive sociological approach concerned with the cognitive processes on which the construction and structuring of society depend and which pervade the latter’s every fibre. Here the starting point for the discussion is Fairclough’s treatment of critical social analysis as a form of dialectical reasoning. While broadly accepting his proposal despite a number of specific disagreements, this chapter fills in a largely blank space in his argument by focusing on the internal workings of dialectical reasoning. Rather than focusing on the practical dialectical nature of critical social analysis alone, it elaborates on the pre-supposed yet undeveloped epistemological dialectics of such analysis. The point is that an adequate grasp of practical dialectics requires the simultaneous consideration of the principal operative features of epistemological dialectics, not just in critical social analysis but more basically still also in social life itself. The proposal in this chapter is that this could be done by introducing the inferential stance in order to consider what I call the dialectics of inference or inferential dialectics. This argument is informed by the conviction that advancement beyond extant sociology demands the incorporation of the cognitive dimension—and inferential dialectics is one way in which this can be done.
KeywordsCognitive sociology Critical social analysis Critical theory Dialectics Inference Discourse
I wish to thank Norman Fairclough for graciously having provided me with a copy of his 2014 ISSA paper as well as with relevant contextual information.
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