Marco Rühl's research interests stem from the rather wide range of disciplines which he approached during his studies (for details, see his personal information). If he focuses currently on the rhetorical analysis of processes of arguing and decision-making as well as on inductive theorizing on conversational arguing from the perspective of Speech Communication, this is meant to be on a thoroughly interdisciplinary background, the very analysis of argumentative conversation being at the crossroads of rhetoric, linguistics, and dialectics.
In his doctoral dissertation (sorry, this is a German-only link), he took a historical approach reconstructing the use of argumentative resources for transfer of knowledge in "dialogified treatises," i.e. textbooks and tracts written in the form of a teacher-and-student dialogue. On the basis of both classical Greek and Roman and modern rhetoric, he investigated similarities and differences to be found if comparing medieval Scholastic "dialogified treatises" on the artes liberales and on theology with their counterparts in French Enlightenment, which are on recent scientific findings and the situation in the newly colonized New World territories.
Starting from the dialogic nature of Scholastic philosophizing as well as from the Enlightenment philosophers' desire for discussion and for an epistemic semper ultra, the field opens up in - at least - two directions. On the one hand - regarding argumentation analysis proper -, a thoroughly processual analysis and reconstruction of arguing and decision-making in authentic (non-literary, non-dialogified) conversation in real life is still not available yet. Current research focuses - despite important accomplishments achieved since the so-called "pragmatic turn" - on the evaluation of arguments adduced to support some contested position rather than on the communicative process of arguing itself. In view of the elaboration of a consistently processual approach to arguing, Marco Rühl takes part in the organization of the 5th Working Panel on Discourse Analysis, to be held in March 1999 by the Freiburg Pragmatic Colloquium at University of Freiburg: Argumentieren in Gesprächen: verhandeln, diskutieren, streiten (Arguing in Conversation: Negotiating, Discussing, Debating - - the official conference language is German, and so is the texted linked to).
The second of the research lines starts at the fact that unlike Scholasticism or Enlightenment, Modernity has recognized to what extent processes of understanding rely upon presuppositions, presumptions and taken-for-granteds that are highly specific for the philosophical and/or socio-cultural environment in which these processes take place. Not only, therefore, the analysis of processes of understanding - and perhaps even more important, of misunderstanding being imminent or having occurred - has to consider the different situative and institutional contexts of conversation; furthermore, it has to speak to the dependence of such processes on the culture-specific notions of what suits and what doesn't when communicating. In the perspective of the analysis of processes of discussion, it is particularly interesting to note that Western standards of rationality seem to be the least common ones throughout the cultures of the world.
Given his research interests, it is no surprise that Marco Rühl is a member of the International Society for the Study of Argumentation.
Publications include so far:
January 21, 1999