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Rhetoric, Argument, and Persuasion

Frans H. van Eemeren

Subject Linguistics
Communication Studies » Rhetorical Studies

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


Rhetoric, argument, and persuasion come together in the study of argumentation. According to a handbook definition, argumentation is a verbal, social, and rational activity aimed at convincing a reasonable critic of the acceptability of a standpoint by advancing a constellation of propositions justifying or (in case the standpoint is negative) refuting the proposition expressed in the standpoint ( van Eemeren et al. 1996 ). This definition does justice to the “process–product ambiguity” of the term “argumentation” because it captures not only the activity of advancing reasons but also the discourse or text resulting from it. Argumentation always pertains to a specific point of view regarding a certain issue. The speaker or writer who advances argumentation defends this standpoint to listeners or readers who (are assumed to) doubt the acceptability of the standpoint or have a different standpoint. Argumentation is aimed at convincing them of the acceptability of the standpoint. The person who advances it makes an appeal to their reasonableness by assuming that they will act as reasonable critics when evaluating the argumentation – otherwise advancing argumentation would not make sense (→  Argumentative Discourse ; Discourse ). The study of argumentation includes not only philosophical and theoretical investigations of the concepts of rationality and reasonableness inspiring ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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