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A descriptive approach to argumentative norms

Lecture by Marianne Doury (Paris-Dauphine), organized by the Department of Theoretical Philosophy

A French trend in argumentation studies may be characterized by the descriptive stance it takes towards argumentative practice, and by its anchorage in linguistics – both characteristics are not independent from one another (Plantin, Amossy, Micheli, Doury).

Such an approach to argumentation aims at accounting for the way speakers manage to take a stand and to elaborate their position through discursive devices in order to hold out against contention. The aim of such an approach is not normative or prescriptive ; it does not aim at prescribing how speakers should argue, but rather at describing how they do argue. Argumentation is dealt with as a discursive practice, hence its description relies on the analytic tools elaborated within discourse analysis or talk-in-interaction studies.

Despite this descriptive stance, the issue of argumentative norms is not abandoned. Actually attention to everyday argumentative practice shows that arguers are constantly assessing the arguments they are confronted with according to argumentative standards that can be made more or less explicit according to circumstances and to the dynamics of verbal exchanges. I intend to illustrate such an « anthropological » approach to argumentative norms exploring two directions :

  • The study of meta-argumentative vocabulary (French terms such as « amalgame » or « procès d’intention »)
  • The study of refutative sequences.

It will be claimed that in argumentative practice, the assessment of argumentation cannot be understood separately from the participants’ strategical concerns.

When & where?

Wednesday, 25 May 2016, 3.15 - 5pm
Faculty of Philosophy, room Omega

Last modified:17 September 2020 5.26 p.m.