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Language, reason and education

Studies in honor of Eddo Rigotti

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Edited By Giovanni Gobber and Andrea Rocci

Language as reason represents the unifying theme of this multifaceted reflection on Eddo Rigotti’s scientific contribution offered by his students and colleagues on the occasion of his seventieth birthday. Spanning argumentation theory, linguistics, psychology, semiotics and communication sciences, the volume reflects Rigotti’s generous personality and his trajectory of semiotician, philosopher, linguist and specialist in argumentation studies. Language as an instrument of communication with semiotic peculiarities is considered at different levels in which it manifests traces of reason at work. This means considering how reality reveals itself by means of language and how the semiotic character of language structures is used by people to enable joint actions and change the natural and social world. Particularly in focus is the realm of argumentation, that is of those joint actions where people exchange reasons in various communities, fora and markets in view of understanding and practical deliberation. To argumentation Eddo Rigotti devoted all his research efforts in recent years, with a keen sense of its intrinsic educational value and a sincere care for fostering the development of the argumentative mind.
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Fabrizio Macagno, Douglas Walton: Argumentation schemes and topical relations

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Argumentation schemes and topical relations

FABRIZIO MACAGNO, University of Lisbon & DOUGLAS WALTON, University of Windsor

One of the cornerstones of argumentation theory is the analysis of the structure of natural arguments. Dialectical and rhetorical arguments cannot be investigated by simply using the logical categories drawn from the formal meaning of quantifiers and connectors. While formal rules merely transfer the truth value of the premises to the conclusion, natural arguments are characterized by the notion of acceptability. What argumentative reasoning conveys from the premises to the conclusion is the hearer’s attitude towards the state of affairs or the judgment expressed by a dialogue move (Rigotti 1995: 8). However, if we take into consideration the speaker and the hearer of a message in analyzing argumentative reasoning, the traditional formal systems become inadequate to investigate natural arguments, as they cannot capture the very purpose of argumentation, i.e. the modification of the interlocutors’ attitudes and commitments, their perception of reality (Krabbe 2013).

In this wider perspective on reasoned argumentation, the pragmatic purpose of a dialogue move needs to be taken into account. Reasonableness (Rigotti, Rocci and Greco 2006), which is irrelevant in a formal approach to arguments, becomes the cornerstone of the pragmatic approach to natural arguments. What matters in argumentative inferences is not only whether the conclusion follows from the premises, but how it does. Even though the affirmation of the antecedent in a conditional necessarily leads to the affirmation of the consequent,...

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