How do Dutch people let each other know that they disagree? What do they say when they want to resolve their difference of opinion by way of an argumentative discussion? In what way do they convey that they are convinced by each other’s argumentation? How do they criticize each other’s argumentative moves? Which words and expressions do they use in these endeavors? By answering these questions this short essay provides a brief inventory of the language of argumentation in Dutch.
Normative pragmatics can bridge the differences between dialectical and rhetorical theories in a way that saves the central insights of both. Normative pragmatics calls attention to how the manifest strategic design of a message produces interpretive effects and interactional consequences. Argumentative analysis of messages should begin with the manifest persuasive rationale they communicate. But not all persuasive inducements should be treated as arguments. Arguments express with a special pragmatic force propositions where those propositions stand in particular inferential relations to one (...) another. Normative pragmatics provides a framework within which varieties of propositional inference and pragmatic force may be kept straight. Normative pragmatics conceptualizes argumentative effectiveness in a way that integrates notions of rhetorical strategy and rhetorical situation with dialectical norms and procedures for reasonable deliberation. Strategic effectiveness should be seen in terms of maximizing the chances that claims and arguments will be reasonably evaluated, whether or not they are accepted. Procedural rationality should be seen in terms of adjustment to the demands of concrete circumstances. Two types of adjustment are illustrated: rhetorical strategies for framing the conditions for dialectical deliberation and rhetorical strategies for making do with limitations to dialectical deliberation. (shrink)
Speech act theory seems to provide a promising avenue for the analysis of the functional organization of argument. The theory, however, might be taken to suggest that arguments are a homogenous class of speech act with a specifiable illocutionary force and a single set of felicity conditions. This suggestion confuses the analysis of the meaning of speech act verbs with the analysis of the pragmatic structure of actual language use. Suggesting that arguments are conveyed through a homogeneous class of linguistic (...) action overlooks the way in which the context of activity and the form of expression organize the argumentative functions performed in using language. An alternative speech act analysis would treat folk terminology as a heuristic entry point into the development of a technical analysis of the myriad argumentative functions and structures to be found in natural language use. This would lead to a thorough-going pragmatic analysis of the rational and functional design of speech acts in argumentation. (shrink)
Digressions in argumentative discussion are a kind of failure of relevance. Examination of what actual cases look like reveals several properties of argumentative relevance: (1) The informational relevance of propositions to the truth value of a conclusion should be distinguished from the pragmatic relevance of argumentative acts to the task of resolving a disagreement. (2) Pragmatic irrelevance is a collaborative phenomenon. It does not just short-circuit reasoning; it encourages a failure to take up the demands of an argumentative task. (3) (...) Pragmatic irrelevance can occur not simply by the absence of a connection between what is said and some standpoint in dispute, but also by the presence of a connection between what is said and a competing use of the information. (4) Pragmatic relevance must be accomplished through communicative action. (shrink)
Argumentation occurs through and as communicative activity. Communication is organized by pragmatic principles of expression and interpretation. Grice’s theory of conversational implicature provides a model for how people use rational principles to manage the ways in which they reason to representations of arguments, and not just reason from those representations. These principles are systematic biases that make possible reasonable decision-making and intersubjective understandings in the first place; but they also make possible all manner of errors and abuses. Much of what (...) is problematic in argumentation involves the ways in which the pragmatic principles of communication are exploited and the difficulties audiences and interlocutors have detecting and managing these abuses. (shrink)
The traditional concepts of rhetorical strategy and argumentative fallacy cannot be readily reconciled. Doing so requires escaping the following argument: All argumentation involves rhetorical strategies. All rhetorical strategies are violations of logical or dialectical ideals. All violations of logical or dialectical ideals are fallacies. Normative pragmatics provides a perspective in which rhetorical strategies can be seen to have the potential for constructive contributions to argumentation and in which fallacies are not simply violations of ideals. One kind of constructive contribution, framing (...) moves, is illustrated with the case of Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 TV campaign commercial known as the Daisy ad. (shrink)