Argumentation as a Speech Act

Croatian Journal of Philosophy 21 (3):357-374 (2021)
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Abstract

This paper investigates whether, and if so, in what way, argumentation can be profitably described in speech-act theoretical terms. I suggest that the two theories of argumentation that are supposed to provide the most elaborate analysis of it in speech-act theoretical terms (namely van Eemeren and Rob Grootendorst’s Pragma-Dialectics and Lilian Bermejo-Luque’s linguistic normative model of argumentation) both suffer from the same two flaws: firstly, their “illocutionary act pluralism” assumption and secondly, a lack of interest in where arguing belongs in the classification of illocutionary acts. I argue that these flaws derive from the authors’ reliance on an intention-based speech-theoretical framework. Finally, I adopt a deontic framework for speech acts in order to propose an alternative way of accounting for argumentation which seems to overcome the two limitations outlined above. According to this framework, argumentation may be conceived as a speech act sequence, characterized by the conventional effects brought about by the communicative moves (as illocutionary acts) of which it is composed.

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Paolo Labinaz
University of Trieste

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