Is Common Ground a Word or Just a Sound?

In H. V. Hanson (ed.), Proceedings of the International Conference: Dissensus & The Search for Common Ground. Ontario Society for the Study of Argumentation. pp. 1--9 (2007)
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The paper analyses the role played by the concept of ‘common ground’ in argumentation theories. If a common agreement on all the rules of a discursive exchange is required, either at the beginning or at the end of an argumentative practice, then no violation of the rules is possible. The paper suggests an alternative understanding of ‘common ground’ as something that can change during the development of the argumentative practice, and in particular something that can change without the practice being stopped, just as one sometimes violates the rule of a game without stopping playing. The analysis of some historical examples shows that the violation of rules sometimes leads to a consensual change of a set of beliefs and values. The argumentative rationality thus needs to be reconsidered in the light of the analysis of the conditions under which it would be legitimate to change the rules of an argumentative practice: ‘common ground’ and the right to disagreement, even radical or violent, could then be defended as essential components of argumentative rationality.

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Paola Cantù
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

References found in this work

Fallacies.Charles Leonard Hamblin - 1970 - London, England: Vale Press.
A Practical Study of Argument.Trudy Govier - 1985 - Belmont, CA, USA: Wadsworth Pub. Co..

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