Argumentative Discussion: The Rationality of What?

Topoi 38 (4):645-658 (2019)
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Abstract

Most dialectical models view argumentation as a process of critically testing a standpoint. Further, they assume that what we critically test can be analytically reduced to individual and bi-polar standpoints. I argue that these two assumptions lead to the dominant view of dialectics as a bi-partisan argumentative discussion in which the yes-side argues against the doubter or the no-side. I scrutinise this binary orientation in understanding argumentation by drawing on the main tenets of normative pragmatic and pragma-dialectical theories of argumentation. I develop my argument by showing how argumentative practice challenges these assumptions. I then lay out theoretical reasons for this challenge. This paves the way for an enhanced conceptualisation of dialectical models and their standards of rationality in terms of multi-party discussions, or argumentative polylogues.

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