Relevance reviewed: The case of argumentum ad hominem [Book Review]

Argumentation 6 (2):141-159 (1992)
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Abstract

This article aims tt providing some conceptual tools for dealing adequately with relevance in argumentative discourse. For this purpose, argumentative relevance is defined as a functional interactional relation between certain elements in the discourse. In addition to the distinction between interpretive and evaluative relevance that can be traced in the literature, analytic relevance is introduced as an intermediary concept. In order to classify the various problems of relevance arising in interpreting, analyzing and evaluating argumentative discourse, a taxonomy is proposed in which the concept of relevance is differentiated along three co-ordinate dimensions: object, domain and aspect. With the help of this taxonomy, it can be shown that the problems of evaluative relevance with which the standard approach to fallacies cannot satisfactory deal can be more systematically approached within a pragma-dialectical framework. This is demonstrated for the argumentum and hominem, which is erroneously treated as a homogenous type of relevance fallacy in logico-centric analyses, so that cases where this is not justified must be treated as ad hoc exceptions

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