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Rhetorical Argumentation

Rhetorical Argumentation
Principles of Theory and Practice

May 2004 | 224 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

The study of argumentation has primarily focused on logical and dialectical approaches, with minimal attention given to the rhetorical facets of argument. Rhetorical Argumentation: Principles of Theory and Practice approaches argumentation from a rhetorical point of view and demonstrates how logical and dialectical considerations depend on the rhetorical features of the argumentative situation. Throughout this text, author Christopher W. Tindale identifies how argumentation as a communicative practice can best be understood by its rhetorical features.

Rhetorical Argumentation
uniquely presents argumentation through the idea of an invitational rhetoric by encouraging readers to think about the ways in which they encounter arguments. The book explores the processes involved in the argumentative exchanges between arguers and audiences-thus, emphasizing the collaborative nature of the arguer-audience relationship in the argumentative situation. That is, argument is presented not as a set of ideas imposed upon a passive audience, but rather as a dynamic exchange wherein the audience is involved in self-persuasion.

Key Features:

Explores the ancient foundations of rhetoric, from Aristotle to the relatively contemporary works of Perelman and Olbrechts-Tytecta, Toulmin, and Bakhtin

Includes numerous examples illustrating the ways in which the reasoning within arguments involves the audience from premise through to conclusion

Presents the idea of "dialogism" drawn from the theories of Mikhail Bakhtin to create a more dynamic and interactive sense of the argumentative context

Examines current theory as well as the historical relationship between argument and rhetoric

Provides detailed discussions of topics such as nature of the dialogical, rhetorical context, audiences, and standards of appraisal.

Rhetorical Argumentation is designed to provide advanced undergraduate and graduate students with a clear understanding of the rhetorical view of argumentation and how it can be effective in contemporary society. The book is an ideal text for courses in Communication, Rhetoric, Argumentation, Informal Logic, Critical Thinking, and Conflict Resolution.

1. Introduction: A Rhetorical Turn for Argumentation
Alice's Predicament

Models of Argument

Beyond the Logical

Beyond the Dialectical

Rhetoric and Rhetorical Argumentation

The Path Ahead

2. Argument as Rhetorical...
Introduction: Rhetoric's Origin

Argument's Origin

Rhetoric and Argument in Fifth- and Fourth- Century Greece

Sophistic Argument

Sophistic Argument and the Notion of 'Fallacy'

Rhetoric as Invitational

3. ...And Rhetoric as Argument
Introduction: Rhetorical Figures and Arguments

Reboul on Figures and Arguments

Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca

Fahnestock's Figural Logic

Figures as Arguments


4. Rhetorical Contexts and the Dialogical
Introduction: Dialogue and Dialogues

Bakhtin's Terminology

Dialogic Argument

Reflections on a Bakhtinian Model



5. Martians, Philosophers, and Reasonable People: The Construction of Objective Standards

How Martians Reason

The Martian Standard and the Problems of Evaluation

Bakhtin's Superaddressee

Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca's Universal Audience


6. Developing the Universal Audience
Introduction: Why the Universal Audience Fails

Reading the Universal Audience: Two Views

Reappraising the Universal Audience

Applying the Idea of a Universal Audience

7. The Truth about Orangutans: Conflicting Criteria of Premise Adequacy
Introduction: Deep Disagreements Between Logic and Rhetoric

Hamblin's Orangutans

The Rhetoric of Philosophy: Metaphors as Argument



8. Rhetorical Conclusions
From Protagoras to Bakhtin

The Rhetorical Audience

Goals of Rhetorical Argumentation

Conclusions Without Conclusiveness


This is a great book with wonderful information. It is easy to read and would be beneficial to students. This text would work well with certain approaches to argumentation courses.

Mr Steven Farrar
Communication Dept, Utah Valley University
February 18, 2022
Key features
  • The book is contemporary in the approach it takes to rhetorical argumentation, showcasing recent work and scholarship  
  • Accessible content organization:
  • The first chapter summarizes the state of the art in current theory
  • Subsequent chapters present some of the historical relationship between "argument" and "rhetoric"
  • Later chapters provide detailed discussions of topics such as the nature of the dialogical, rhetorical context, audiences, and standards of appraisal
  • This text encourages students to think about the ways in which they experience arguments, and what that involves  
  • The book presents argumentation through the idea of an invitational rhetoric that involves the audience in the completion of the reasoning
  • Students are presented with numerous examples that illustrate the ways in which the reasoning within arguments move from premise through to conclusions, and involve the audience in their completion
  • The idea of "dialogism"—drawn from theories of Mikhail Bakhtin—helps to present a more dynamic and interactive sense of argumentative context
  • The core chapter involves two extended examples (one historical; the other a contemporary presidential speech), analyzed first as typical dialogues between distanced participants, and then dialogically, as engaged dialogues in which the arguers anticipate, respond to, and involve the audience
  • This approach furthers a more contemporary understanding of how argumentation actually occurs
  • Students come away with a clear understanding of the rhetorical ground of argumentation and how this works and can be effective in contemporary society

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