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Argumentation Seminar


1. The model of a critical discussion
In this lecture argumentation theory will be introduced as a discipline in which a comprehensive research program is to be carried out. Next it will be explained how the research program of pragma-dialectics is shaped around the notion of a critical discussion.

2. Analysis as reconstruction: The analytic overview
In order to be able to give a fair assessment of argumentative discourse a careful analysis needs to be carried out. It will be explained that a pragma-dialectical analysis involves a reconstruction of the discourse in terms of a critical discussion.

3. Fallacies as violations of rules for critical discussion
A litmus test for all normative theories of argumentation is whether they can adequately deal with the fallacies occurring in argumentative discourse. It will be explained that the pragma-dialectical theory of argumentation deals with the fallacies as violations of rules for critical discussion and that this treatment proves the “problem-validity” of the theory.

4. Strategic manoeuvring in argumentative discourse
In order to keep the balance between aiming for effectiveness and maintaining reasonableness every argumentative move requires strategic maneuvering. It will be explained how dialectical insights into reasonableness and rhetorical insights into effectiveness are integrated in the extended pragma-dialectical theory.

5. Conventionalization of communicative activity types
Argumentative discourse takes place in a great variety of argumentative practices and the strategic manoeuvring that is allowed is determined by the institutional preconditions of the practice concerned. It will be explained that the conventions governing argumentative discourse in a certain communicative activity type can be summarized in an argumentative characterization.

6. Fallacies as derailments of strategic manoeuvring
After extending pragma-dialectics by means of the inclusion of strategic manoeuvring a more adequate account of the fallacies can be given. It will be explained that fallacies can be viewed as derailments of strategic manoeuvring. It is also explained why such derailments may sometimes go unnoticed.

7. Argumentative patterns; Question time
Due to their different institutional points, conventionalization and institutional preconditions, different kinds of argumentative patterns will be prototypical of the argumentative discourses realized in the various (clusters of) communicative activity types. It will be explained that these argumentative patterns involve more or less fixed constellations of argumentative moves.



van Eemeren F. H.

Docente titolare del corso

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