Rhetorical Argumentation Defined – University of Copenhagen

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12 December 2013

Rhetorical Argumentation Defined

In a new article in the American journal Philosophy and Rhetoric, Christian Kock confronts prevalent understandings of rhetorical argumentation.

The article argues that what makes argumentation rhetorical is the theme of the argumentation, i.e., the issue in dispute - rather than its aim (e.g., to ‘win’) or its means (e.g., emotional appeals). The principal thinkers in the rhetorical tradition, from Aristotle onwards, saw rhetoric as practical reasoning, i.e., reasoning on proposals for action or choice, not on propositions that may be either true or false. Citing several contemporary philosophers, the article argues that such a definition acquits rhetorical argumentation of any culpable unconcern with truth and explains certain peculiar properties of it that tend to be under-theorized in argumentation theory. See “Defining Rhetorical Argumentation”. Philosophy and Rhetoric 46 (4) (2013), 437-464.