The paper presents a historical overview of some characteristic differences between rhetoric and dialectic in the pre-modern tradition. In the light of this historical analysis, some current approaches to dialectic are characterized, with special attention to Ralph Johnson's concept of dialectical tier.
Perelman’s view of the role of persons in argument is one of the most distinctive features of his break with Cartesian assumptions about reasoning. Whereas the rationalist paradigm sought to minimize or eliminate personal considerations by dismissing them as distracting and irrelevant, Perelman insists that argumentation inevitably does and ought to place stress on the specific persons engaged in an argument and that the relationship between speaker and what is spoken is always relevant and important. In taking this position, Perelman (...) implicitly revives the classical conception of proof by character (ethos or “ethotic” argument), but despite an extended discussion of act and person in argument, The New Rhetoric does not give much consideration to the classical concept and confuses differing approaches to it within the tradition. The result is that Perelman treats the role of the speaker in argument only by reference to abstract techniques and does not recognize the importance of examining particular cases in order to thicken understanding of how ethotic argument works in the complex, situated context of its actual use. Consequently, Perelman’s account of the role of persons in argument should be supplement by reference to case studies, and to that end, I consider ethotic argument in W.E.B. Du Bois’ famous essay “Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others”. (shrink)
Despite the contemporary revival of interest in topical invention among rhetoricians and informal logicians, the ‘commonplaces’ (loci communes) of classical rhetoric have received little attention. When considered at all, they are typically dismissed as sterile or mechanistic substitutes for genuine argumentative invention. A fresh examination of the texts of Cicero and Quintilian, however, suggests that these authors believe that the commonplaces have an important heuristic function, and an effort to understand this function is a matter of interest to contemporary students (...) of argumentation. (shrink)
In contemporary American scholarship, interpretation of Aristotle'sRhetoric has become the locus of sustained and sharp controversy. Differing views of theRhetoric and its significance have become tokens in a more general dispute about what rhetoric is or ought to be. This essay examines three central issues that have emerged in this larger arena of controversy: the relationship between Aristotelian and Platonic conceptions of rhetoric, the relationships among rhetoric, ethics, and epistemology in Aristotle, and the placement of rhetoric within Aristotle's system of (...) arts and sciences. (shrink)