Argumentation and energy policies: Theoretical considerations, empirical results

March 30, 2017

ArgLab International Workshop


Thursday, 30 March 2017, 15:00-18:00

Sala Multiusos 2, Edificio I&D

FCSH, Universidade Nova de Lisboa

Avenida de Berna 26, Lisbon


Invited speakers:


Isabela Fairclough (University of Central Lancashire, UK)

Norman Fairclough (University of Lancaster, UK)

Debating ‘extreme energy’: Institutional constraints and critical challenges in the decision-making process on exploration for shale gas in Lancashire


We look at the argument schemes used in the debate on fracking that took place in June 2015 in the Lancashire County Council, in order to: (1) understand the nature of ‘conductive’ (pro/con) argumentation; (2) elucidate the impact of the institutional context on rational decision-making; (3) critically assess the decision-making process that led to the rejection and then approval (in June 2015 and in October 2016) of Cuadrilla’s applications to start fracking in Lancashire. We suggest a deliberation scheme modelling conductive argumentation, and show how various simple argument schemes, as well as institutional constraints, are integrated. Finally, we take a critical look at some recent developments – since January 2017, when Cuadrilla started building the Preston New Road fracking pad, in the face of huge public opposition and a High Court challenge.


Mark Aakhus (Rutgers University, USA)

Polylogical analysis of energy deliberations and controversies with macroscopes


Argumentation theory offers novel ways to understand how the conduct of large-scale deliberations and controversies in networked society shapes knowledge and action. A key limiting factor, however, is whether insights from argumentation theory can be scaled to address the management of differences in large scale deliberations and controversies. This presentation demonstrates how fusing a theory of argumentative polylogues with natural language processing and social network analysis to build a macroscope offers a way to observe and make sense of the argumentative roles of multiple actors in the large scale controversy over hydraulic fracturing (fracking). Additional consideration is given to building macroscopes for other aspects of the polylogical analysis of argumentation in controversies.


The workshop is part of the FCSH-sponsored project "Practical argumentation in the European energy and climate debates: Values, argumentative strategies, and discursive representations across Europe" (Marcin Lewinski, PI)


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Faculdade de Direito Universidade Nova de Lisboa