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Table of Contents
Preface 9
1 The State of the Art in Argumentation Theory 11
Frans H. van Eemeren
1.1 The Study of Argumentation 11
1.2 Some Crucial Concepts 17
1.3 Overview of the Book 23
Bibliography 25
2 Points ofView 27
Peter Houtlosser
2.1 Introduction 27
2.2 Different Approaches to Points ofView 28
2.2.1 Classical and Formal Dialectic 28
2.2.2 Pragma-Dialectics 30
2.2.3 Socio-Psychological Research of Persuasion 33
2.2.4 Cognitive Research on Reasoning 34
2.2.5 Argumentative Discourse Analysis 35
2.2.6 Structuralist Informal Logic 36
2.2.7 Procedural Informal Logic 38
2.2.8 Advocacy and Debate 39
2.2.9 Communicative Action Theory 40
2.3 Starting Points for Further Research 42
Bibliography 48

Unexpressed Premises 51
Susanne Gerritsen
3.1 Introduction 51
Two Traditional Approaches 52
The Deductive-Inductive Distinction 55
Pluralism 55
Modern Deductivism 57
Neither Pluralist, nor Deductivist 59
The Nature of the Unexpressed Premise 61
Confusion over Definitions 61
The Unexpressed Premise as a Gap- Filler 65
Used or Needed Premise 67
The Role of Context 68
The Meaning of'Context' 69
The Position of the Analyst 71
ArgumentSchemes 72
Concluston 74
Bibliography 76
4 Argument Schemes 81
4.1 Introduction 81
4.2 Argument Schemes and Finding Arguments 82
4.2.1 The Classical Topical Tradition 82
4.2.2 Whately's Rhetoric 83
4.2.3 Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca's New Rhetoric 84
43 Argument Schemes and the Evaluation of Argumentation 86
4.3.1 American Textbooks on Academic Debate 86
4.3.2 Hastings' Classification of Types ofWarrants 87
433 Schell ens' Reasonable Argument Forms 89
43-4 The Pragma-Dialectical Typology of Argument Schemes 91
44 Argument Schemes and the Description of Argumentative Discourse 93
45 Conclusion 94
Bibliography 98
5 Argumentation Structures 101
A. Francisca Snoeck Henkemans
5.1 Introduction 101
5.2 Historical O v e ~ v i e w 102
5.2.1 Classical Rhetoric 103
5.2.2 Enlightenment Rhetoric 105
5-23 TheEarlyTextbooks 107
53 CurrentApproaches 111
5.3.1 The Textbook Distinctions 111
5.3.2 TheoreticalApproaches 119
5-4 Methods of Analysis in Doubtful Cases 124
55 Conclusion 126
Bibliography 132
6 Fallacies 135
Frans H. van Eemeren
6.1 Introduction 135
6.2 BriefHistoryofthe Study of Fallacies 136
6.2.1 The Aristotelian Approach to Fallacies 136
6.2.2 Idols and Sophisms 141
6.2.3 The Ad Fallacies 142
6.2.4 Syllogistic and Inductive Fallacies 144
6.2.5 The Treatment of Fallacies in Logic Textbooks 145
6.3 Modern Theoretical Approaches to the Fallacies 149
6.3.1 Hamblin's Criticisms of the Standard Treatment 149
6.3.2 Post-Hamblin Treatments of the Fallacies 153
6.3.3 TheWoods-WaltonApproach 154
6.3.4 TheFormal-DialecticalApproach 156
6.3.5 ThePragma-DialecticalApproach 157
6.3.6 Walton's Pragmatic Approach 159
Bibliography 161
7 Argument Interpretation and Reconstruction 165
M. Agnes van Rees
7.1 Introduction 165
7.2 Argument Interpretation 166
7.2.1 General Characteristics of Discourse Organization 167
7.2.2 Features of Argumentative Discourse 170
7.2.3 Cognitive Processes 175
73 Argument Reconstruction 177
7.3.1 Logic 178
7.3.2 Informa!Logic 179
73-3 Rhetoric 183
7.3.4 Pragma-Dialectics 185
7.4 Conclusion 190
Bibliography 193
8 Argumentation in the Field of Law 201
Eveline T. Feteris
8.1 Introduction 201
8.2 Different Approaches to Legal Argumentation 203
8.2.1 The Logical Approach 203
8.2.2 The Rhetorical Approach 204
8.2.3 The Dialogical Approach 208
8.3 Topics in the Research of Legal Argumentation 209
8.3.1 The Philosophical Component 209
8.3.2 The Theoretical Component 210
8.3.3 The Analytical Component 211
8.3.4 The Empirical Component 212
8.3.5 The Practical Component 213
8.4 Conclusion 214
Bibliography 216
IndexofNames 227
IndexofTerms 230
The Contributors 237
All argumentation theorists' contributions to the study of argumentation,
from whatever perspective they originate and whatever approach they advo-
cate, are aimed at furthering the development of argumentation theory.
Some of these contributions involve purportedly original and creative ampli-
fications of the discipline. They are all of vital importance to the advancement
of the study of argumentation. Other contributions such as translations of
scholarly insight and research findings from argumentation theory into lay
language, course books for students and surveys that offer would-be re-
searchers a systematic overview of central parts or aspects of the field, are also
indispensable to the vitality of the discipline but serve the discipline in a dif-
ferent way: Crucial Concepts in Argumentation Theory aspires to belong to this
last category.
The research group of the Department of Speech Communication,
Argumentation Theory and Rhetoric at the University of Amsterdam intends
to contribute to the theoretical advancement of the study of argumentation
by developing a pragma-dialectical approach to argumentative discourse.
Among the results of their efforts published in English are Speech Acts in Ar-
gumentative Discussions and Argumentation, Communication and Fallacies
(Van Eemeren and Grootendorst 1984 and 1992; respectively), Analysing
Complex Argumentation (Snoeck Henkemans 1992), Studies in Pragma-Di-
alectics (edited by Van Eemeren and Grootendorst in 1994) and Recon-
structing Argumentative Discourse (Van Eemeren and Grootendorst, together
with Sally Jackson and Scott Jacobs, 1994). An introductory course book
based on pragma-dialectical insight is Argumentation by van Eemeren, Groo-
tendorst and Snoeck Henkemans (2001). And a general overview of the vari-
ous theoretical approaches to the study of argumentation from the past to the
present is provided in Fundamentals of Argumentation Theory, an interna-
tional co-production by Van Eemeren, Grootendorst, and Snoeck Henke-
mans with contributions by J. Anthony Blair, Ralph Johnson, Christian Plan-
tin, Douglas N. Walton, Charles A. Willard, John Woods, and David Zarefsky
(1996). The book was later followed by its legal equivalent, Fundamentals of
Legal Argumentation (Feteris 1999 ).
Crucial Concepts in Argumentation Theory relates most closely to publica-
tions intended to be helpful to students of argumentation such as Argumenta-
tion and Fundamentals. The book consists of a series of overviews of the state
of the art in prominent research areas in the study of argumentation. The au-
thors, Frans H. van Eemeren, Peter Houtlosser, Susanne Gerritsen, Bart
Garssen, A. Francisca Snoeck Henkemans, M. Agnes van Rees and Eveline T.
Feteris, aim to provide readers with accurate surveys of the main views and
approaches favored in argumentation studies. Most of the contributions have
already been published in an earlier version of the journal Argumentation.
They have all been revised considerably for this book. The authors would like
to thank all of their colleagues in the community of argumentation scholars
constituted by the International Society for the Study of Argumentation
(ISSA) for their help in the shaping of their ideas and texts. With regard to the
current project, they are particularly grateful to J. Anthony Blair, Trudy Govi-
er, Hans Hansen, Scott Jacobs, Erik C.W. Krabbe, Michael Leff, Leah Polcar,
Douglas N. Walton and John Woods, and to Paul Nagtegaal for his invaluable
technical help in preparing the manuscript for publication. May Crucial Con-
cepts in Argumentation Theory be a helpful aid and resource for students of ar-
Frans H. van Eemeren
Amsterdam, January19, 2001
1 The State of the Art in Argumentation Theory
Frans H. van Eemeren
1.1 The Study of Argumentation
A survey of crucial concepts in argumentation theory cannot proceed with-
out a short introduction regarding the state of argumentation scholarship.
What is the subject matter of the study of argumentation? Argumentation
can be defined as a verbal, social and rational activity aimed at convincing a
reasonable critic of the acceptability of a standpoint by advancing a constellation
of propositions justifying or refuting the proposition expressed in the standpoint
(Van Eemeren et al.1996). This definition does justice to the "process-product
ambiguity" of the word "argumentation" because it not only refers to the ac-
tivity of advancing reasons but also to the shorter or longer text that results
from it.
One of the essential characteristics of argumentation is that it always per-
tains to a specific point of view with regard to a certain issue. The speaker or
writer who advances argumentation defends this "standpoint" to a listener or
reader who doubts the acceptability of the standpoint or has a different stand-
point. The subsequent argumentation is aimed at convincing the listener or
reader of the acceptability of the standpoint. When someone advances argu-
mentation, that person makes an appeal to reasonableness and silently as-
sumes that the listener or reader will act as a reasonable critic when evaluating
the argumentation. Otherwise it would not make sense to advance a certain
line of argumentation.
It is the task of argumentation theorists to determine which soundness cri-
teria should be satisfied for the argumentation to be called reasonable. Many
argumentation theorists inspired by logic, study argumentation for norma-
tive purposes. There are also argumentation theorists however who pursue
merely a descriptive goal. Linguistically oriented scholars in textual and dis-
course analysis are often only interested in describing how, with varying de-
grees of success, language users make use of argumentation to convince oth-
ers. Although in current research practice both extremes are represented,
most argumentation theorists take a middle position. Their starting point is
that the study of argumentation has a normative as well as a descriptive di-
., 11
The study of argumentation has thus far not resulted in a universally accepted
theory. The current state of the art is characterized by the co-existence of a va-
riety of approaches, differing considerably in conceptualization, scope and
degree of theoretical refinement, albeit that all the modern approaches are
strongly influenced by classical and post-classical rhetoric and dialectic. To-
gether with approaches of a more limited scope or a less developed research
program, the most important approaches are discussed in considerable detail
in Fundamentals of Argumentation Theory(Van Eemeren et al.1996).As an in-
troduction to the great variety in the field, I shall present a brief overview of
these theoretical contributions.
Toulmin's Model of Analysis
Toulmin's The Uses of Argument, which appeared in 1958, is known mainly for
the model of argumentation presented in this book. This model represents
the "procedural form" of argumentation or the various steps that can be dis-
in the defense of a standpoint or claim. According to Toulmin, the
soundness of argumentation is primarily determined by the degree to which
the warrant, which connects the data adduced in the argumentation with the
claim that is defended, is made acceptable by a backing.
The procedural form of argumex:tation is in Toulmin's view"field indepen-
dent." This means that the steps that are taken- and which are represented in
the model- are always the same, irrespective of the subject the argumentation
refers to. The type of backing required, however, is dependent on the field to
which the question at issue belongs. An ethical justification, for instance, re-
quires a different kind of backing than a legal justification. Toulmin thus con-
cludes that the evaluation criteria for determining the soundness of argu-
mentation are "field dependent."
Perelman and Olbrechts- Tyteca's New Rhetoric
Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca in La nouvelle rhetorique (1958, English trans-
lation 1969) an inventory of frequently-used "argumentation tech-
niques." They regard argumentation as sound if it adduces (greater) assent
with the standpoint that is defended among the audience the argumentation
is aimed at. Thus, in the new rhetoric, the soundness of argumentation is
measured against its effect on the target group. This target group may consist
of a "particular audience;' but it can also be the "universal audience": the peo-
ple who, for the speaker or writer, are the embodiment of reasonableness.
Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca's contribution to argumentation theory con-
sists, first of all, of an extensive list of elements that can serve as a point of de-
parture or as an argument scheme when constructing the argumentation that
should convince or persuade the audience. With the help of a "quasi-logical"
argument scheme, which resembles a logically valid argument form in some
way, one can, for instance, sometimes achieve the effect that the public con-
siders the standpoint defended in a reasonable way. Another way of justifying
a standpoint is the use of an argument scheme, such as analogy, "that struc-
tures reality;' so that the audience will conclude that the defended standpoint
is in a similar way acceptable as a different kind of standpoint that they al-
ready accept.
Informal Logic
Because some researchers were dissatisfied with the way argumentation was
being treated in introductory logic textbooks, an approach to argumentation
known as informal logic was propagated in Canada and the United States in
the early seventies. Since 1978, the journal Informal Logic, edited by Blair and
Johnson, has been the voice of the informal logic movement. Informal logic is
not a new kind oflogic, but an approach to the normative study of argumen-
tation in ordinary language which remains closer to the practice of argumen-
tation than formal logic (Blair and Johnson 1987).
Informal logicians would like to develop norms and procedures for inter-
preting, assessing and construing argumentation. Their starting point is the
notion that argumentation should be sound in a logical sense. Apart from the
fact that it is clear that something else is meant by this than that the arguments
used must be valid in a formal-logical sense, it is not yet clear, however, exactly
what. It is clear, however, that informal logicians are primarily interested in
the relations between premises and conclusions in arguments and it is also
clear that their interest is not restricted to reasoning aimed at convincing.
Johnson and Blair (1977/1993) have indicated what they have in mind when
they refer to an informal logical alternative for the formal criterion of deduc-
tive validity. In their view, the premises of an argument have to meet three cri-
teria: (1) relevance (2) sufficiency and (3) acceptability. These criteria are in-
troduced in Logical Self-Defense; they are adopted, sometimes under different
names, by other informal logicians (e.g., Govier 1987). When considering
"relevance," the question is whether there is an adequate substantial relation
between the premises and the conclusion of an argument. While in the case of
"sufficiency", the question is whether the premises provide enough evidence
for the conclusion; in the case of"acceptability", whether the premises them-
selves are true, probable, or in some other way trustworthy.
Ducrot andAnscombre, in the early seventies, developed in a number of- al-
most exclusively French- publications a linguistic approach to language use
and argumentation. Because Anscombre and Ducrot (1983) believe that all
verbal utterances that lead the listener or reader to a certain conclusion- of-
ten implicitly- always involve argumentative relations, they refer to their the-
oretical position as radical argumentativism.
Ducrot and Anscombre's descriptive approach is characterized by a great
interest in words such as "only", "no less than", "but", "even", "still", "because"
and "so': which can serve as argumentative "operators" or "connectors" and
give the utterances a certain argumentative force and argumentative direction.
In a certain context, the sentence "The ring costs only one hundred euros" can
point to a conclusion such as "Buy that ring", Meanwhile, the sentence "The
ring costs no less than one hundred euros" points instead to a conclusion such
as "Do not buy that ring':
Another observation made by Ducrot andAnscombre is that a word such as
"but" o_nly determines the direction of the conclusion that is suggested by the
sentence, not the content of this conclusion. This content is also dependent
on the context and the situation in which the sentence is uttered. Whatever
conclusion may be drawn in a specific context, the presence of the word "but"
in all cases causes this conclusion to be the opposite of, and also stronger than,
the conclusion that has to be drawn from the part of the sentence preceding
"but". According to Ducrot and Anscombre, the opposite standpoints sug-
gested by"but" in a sentence such as "Paul is rich, but he is married", select two
different "argumentative principles" which are on a par with the topoi of clas-
sical rhetoric (Van Eemeren et al. 1996). N01ke (1992), in this example, as-
sumes that these are "The more someone has the property of being rich, the
more attractive it is for a woman to get to know him better" and "The more
someone is tied to another woman, the less attractive it is for a woman to get
to know him better". In this case, the latter topos is a stronger argument than
the first, which is as it were put aside - overruled- by the latter. Thus, the last
topos determines the eventual argumentative direction of the sentence, which
leads to an implicit conclusion such as "It is no use trying to get to know Paul
better". -
Modern Dialectical Approaches
To modern dialecticians, argumentation is part of a procedure to resolve a
difference of opinion by means of a regulated discussion. Dialecticians at-
tempt to formulate "problem-sound" rules that are instrumental in resolving
a difference of opinion. These rules must also be "conventionally valid" in the
sense that they are inter-subjectively acceptable (Barth and Krabbe 1982: 21-
22). When designing a procedure for language users who would like to resolve
a dispute by means of a critical dialogue, the "new dialecticians" make use of
the ideas put forth by Crawshay-Williams and Naess as well as the ideas of
Lorenzen, Lorenz and other members of the Erlangen School.
The first initiatives towards a new dialectic have already been presented by
Barth and Krabbe. In From Axiom to Dialogue they described a "formal-di-
alectical" procedure to determine whether a standpoint can be maintained in
the light of certain starting points or "concessions." The term formal dialectics
was introduced earlier by Hamblin (1970 ). The indication "formal" refers to
the strictly regimented character of the dialogue games. In dialogue logic an
argument is presented as a dialogue game between a "proponent" and an "op-
ponent" of a thesis. Together these two parties try to establish whether the
thesis can be defended successfully against critical attacks. In the defense, the
proponent can make use of the propositions the opponent is prepared to
commit to. The proponent attempts to bring the opponent into a contradic-
tory position by skillfully exploiting these concessions. If the proponent suc-
ceeds, the thesis has been successfully defended given the concessions (ex con-
Speech Acts in Argumentative Discussions by Van Eemeren and Grootendorst
(1984) developed a theory of argumentation called pragma-dialectics, which
immediately connects with formal dialectics, but is also different. The agree-
ment is expressed in the term dialectics; the replacement of formal by pragma
(for "pragmatic") refers to the differences. The pragmatic elements in prag-
ma-dialectics concerning speech acts and discourse analysis are primarily in-
spired by insights of "ordinary language philosophers"; the dialectical ele-
ments are inspired by the insights from the work of" critical rationalists" such
as Karl Popper.
In the pragma-dialectical ideal model of a critical discussion, four stages are
distinguished. In the confrontation stage, a participant in the discussion puts
forward a standpoint while a second participant either expresses doubt con-
cerning the acceptability of the standpoint or he or she contradicts it. In the
opening stage, which is in practice often largely implicit, the participants who
accept the roles of "protagonist" and "antagonist" of the standpoint deter-
mine what the discussion's point of departure is. Here the question becomes
what are the common starting points and which rules are being observed?
The protagonist begins to advance an argument in the argumentation stage to
defend his or her standpoint and adds, if necessary, new arguments to answer
further critical reactions. If the advanced arguments lead to the acceptance of
the standpoint by the antagonist in the concluding stage, the difference of
opinion has been resolved; this is also the case if the protagonist withdraws
the standpoint because of the antagonist's critical reactions.
Besides an ideal model of the speech acts performed in the various stages of
a critical discussion by a protagonist and an antagonist who make an attempt
to resolve their difference of opinion in a reasonable way, the pragma-dialec-
tical discussion procedure also includes a series of basic rules which together
constitute a code of conduct for reasonable discussants (Van Eemeren and
Grootendorst 1992). Each violation of a rule amounts to an incorrect discus-
sion move that is an impediment to the resolution of a difference of opinion.
This can happen in each stage of the discussion. The incorrectness involved
generally resembles one or more of the well-known fallacies or a similar of-
fence against reasonableness.
Modern Rhetorical Approaches
In recent years, a powerful re-evaluation of rhetoric has taken place. The irra-
tional and even anti-rational i.mage of rhetoric that has evolved during the
past centuries has now been revised. Meanwhile, the sharp division between
rhetoric and dialectic made in the past appears in need ofblurring. Several ar-
gumentation theorists have become aware that rhetoric as the study of per-
suasive techniques is not per se incompatible with maintaining a critical ideal
of reasonableness.
It is remarkable that the rehabilitation of rhetoric in the study of argumen-
tation began at about the same time in various countries. A considerable time
after the pioneering work of Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca, several argu-
mentation scholars in the United States began to defend the rational qualities
of rhetoric. Wenzel (1980 ), for one, prefers to fully credit rhetoric, but then
emphatically in relation to logic, particularly dialectics. In France, Reboul
(1990) prefers to view rhetoric as second only to dialectics in importance. He
regards rhetoric and dialectic as different disciplines that display some over-
lap. Rhetoric applies dialectic to public discussions while dialectic is also a
part of rhetoric because dialectic provides rhetoric with intellectual tools. In
Germany, Kopperschmidt (1989) takes it a step further. He argues, viewing
things from a historical perspective, that rhetoric is the central concern of ar-
gumentation theorists. In the Netherlands, Van Eemeren and Houtlosser
(1999) have pursued the integration of rhetoric's insight into their "pragma-
dialectical" method for analyzing argumentative discourse. In their view,
there is a rhetorical goal corresponding with each of the dialectical stages of
the process of resolving a difference of opinion. They think that an argumen-
tative text or discussion can be reconstructed with more subtlety, and can be
more fully accounted for, if the strategic maneuvering that takes place in each
dialectical stage of the selection from among the "topical potential" (the pos-
sible discussion moves) available in the discussion stage concerned, the adap-
tation to the wishes of the audience and the use of presentational devices is in-
1.2 Some Crucial Concepts
The problems involved in the production, analysis and evaluation of argu-
mentation are approached much differently by the various theoretical contri-
butions to the study of argumentation. The problems argumentation theo-
rists are jointly concerned with can be elucidated by explaining some con-
cepts crucial to the theory of argumentation: "point of view", "unexpressed
premise", "argument scheme", "argumentation structure", and "fallacy': This
book will make it clear that each of these concepts represents an indispens-
able element in the study of argumentation. In addition, two other promi-
nent problem areas crucial to the study of argumentation will be discussed:
"methods of argument interpretation and reconstruction" and "argumenta-
tion in the field oflaw':
Points ofView
It is important to recognize that verbal expressions are not "by nature" stand-
points, arguments, or other units of language use which are interesting to
argumentation theorists, but only when they occur in a context where they
serve a specific function in the communication process. This means that these
utterances must be specifically instrumental in achieving a certain goal. An
oral or written expression is, for instance, a point of view, if it expresses a cer-
tain positive or negative position with respect to a proposition, thus making it
clear exactly what the speaker or writer stands for.
In ordinary discourse, explicitness is the exception rather than the rule.
Sometimes the communicative function of an utterance becomes clear after
the event, when this function is identified by a participant ("So, that is your
standpoint then, eh?", "You have heard my major arguments"), but more of-
ten than not, no explicit identification is offered, while, moreover, the propo-
sitional content of the utterance remains ambiguous.
Fortunately, there are some verbal indicators which specifically refer to

standpoints and argumentation, such as "therefore", "hence", "so", "thus",
"ergo", and "since", "for" and "because". Some of them, like "for," are used r e t ~
rogressively to refer to a preceding standpoint; while others like "so", are used
progressively, and precede the standpoint, and some such as "because;' can be
used either way ("I cannot do it because I am ill" and "Because I am ill I cannot
do it"). The fewer the number of verbal pointers, the more necessary it is to
make use of verbal and non-verbal contextual clues. Usually, some back-
ground knowledge of the context and the type of speech event involved, and
even some knowledge about the world, is necessary to detect these clues and
put them to good use.
Confusingly, formulations of standpoints and reasons may be presented in
speech acts that are, at first sight, non-assertive, as in "Let's take an umbrella,
or do you want to get wet?" Taken literally, what the speaker does here is con-
front the listener with a proposal, followed by a question. The (rhetorical)
question, however, must be interpreted as a reason to accept the implicit
standpoint that the two should take an umbrella. To correctly determine the
speaker's commitments, one must analyze this discourse as containing an im-
plicit (and indirect) standpoint defended by an implicit (and indirect) rea-
son: "We should take an umbrella, for we do not want to get wet". In the analy-
sis of such implicitness (and indirectness), and in the justification of this
analysis, an important role is usually played by general standards for reasoned
discourse and by the context (in its broadest sense) of the specific discourse
under analysis.
Unexpressed Premises
Unexpressed elements that are only implicitly present in the discourse are in
practice often the pivotal points of an argument. This is particularly true for
unexpressed premises and unexpressed standpoints. In ordinary arguments,
usually one of the premises is left unexpressed. In some cases, the identifica-
tion of the elements implicit in enthymematic argumentation is quite simple.
It is obvious, for example, that in ''Amos is pig-headed because he is a teacher"
the premise_that is left unexpressed is "Teachers are pig-headed': In "I am sure
that Amos is pig-headed, since all teachers are pig-headed", it is just as clear
that the unexpressed premise is: ''Amos is a teacher".
There are also cases in which the identification of unexpressed premises
may cause more problems- usually, because there are several possibilities. In
order to <j.etermine what the commitments of an arguer are, the analyst must
not only carry out a logical analysis, based on a formal validity criterion, but
also a pragmatic analysis, based on standards for reasoned discourse. In the
logical analysis, an attempt is made to reconstruct the argument as one that
has a valid argument form; in the pragmatic analysis, the unexpressed
premise is then more precisely defined on the basis of contextual information
and background knowledge. The logical analysis is thus instrumental to the
achievement Of a satisfactory pragmatic analysis.
In the absence of any contextual information or background knowledge,
the pragmatic identification of unexpressed premises will be hard to accom-
plish. A logical analysis must then suffice. Otherwise, there is a danger that the
added premise oversteps the mark, attributing more to the speaker than he or
she is actually committed to. With unexpressed standpoints we are on safer
ground. Starting from the explicit premises, a logical analysis of the underly-
ing argument usually leads to an unequivocal determination of the conclu-
sion representing the unexpressed standpoint that is being advocated.
Argument Schemes
It should not be taken for granted that anyone who puts forward an argument
is automatically attempting to logically derive the conclusion from the
premises. Yet, in some way or another, a transfer of acceptance from the ex-
plicit premise to the standpoint must be aimed for. On this point, thus far, for-
mallogic does not have much to offer. Modern logicians, even when they are
concerned with developing alternative systems such as non-monotonic logic
and default logic, seem almost unanimous in their concern with formal valid-
ity rather than substantive relations between premises and conclusions. Con-
centrating on the problems of implication and truth, they tend to ignore the
problems of plausible inference and the transmission of acceptance.
The speaker or writer who puts forward an argument aims to effect a trans-
fer of acceptance from the premises to the standpoint that makes the listener
or reader accept the standpoint. Hence, the speaker attempts to design the ar-
gument in such a fashion that it will convince the listener. Take the following
argument: "Daniel will certainly be concerned about the costs, because he is
an American." When looking for an argument to defend the standpoint that
Daniel will be concerned about the costs, the arguer may, for example, have
entertained an unfriendly thought like "It is typical of Americans that they are
materialistic." From this thought, the arguer's standpoint may have been
backed up by the argument, the unexpressed premise being ''Americans are
inclined to care a lot about money:' By arguing in this manner, the speaker or
writer is relying on a more or less ready-made argument scheme.
Argument schemes are conventionalized ways of displaying a relation be-
tween that which is stated in the explicit premise and that which is stated in
19 ,,, ____ .......,,,,, ____ .......,,,,, ____ .......,,,,, ____ .......,,,,, ____ .......,,,,, ____ .......,,,,, ____ .......,,,,, ____ .......,,,,, ____ .......,,,,, ____ .......,,,,, ____ .......,,,,, ____ .......,,,,, ____ .......,,,,, ____ .......,,,,, ____ ......., " ' " ~
the standpoint. The internal organisation of each single argument can be
characterized by the argument scheme being employed. Because an a r g u ~
ment scheme characterizes the type of justification or refutation provided for
the standpoint in a single argument by the explicit premise for the stand-
point, an analysis of the argument schemes used in a discourse produces in-
formation regarding the principles, standards, criteria, or assumptions in-
volved in a particular attempt at justification or refutation. In most cases,
some interpretative effort is required to identify the argument scheme that is
being employed, i.e., to discover the tapas on which the argumentation rests.
In this endeavor, again, pragmatic knowledge must be brought to bear. Argu-
ment schemes are among the concepts studied intensively by argumentation
theorists to create a complementary alternative to the formal logical models
and their validity norm. The point of departure in these studies is generally
that in argumentative discourse, depending on the argument scheme used,
various types of argumentation can be distinguished and that each type of
argumentation requires that specific critical questions are answered.
Argumentation Structures
A central problem in the analysis of argumentative discourse is determining
the structure of the argume:q.tation. The argumentation structure of a text,
speech or discussion is determined by the way the reasons advanced hang to-
gether and jointly support the defended standpoint. An adequate evaluation
of the argumentative discourse cannot take place as long as it is unclear what
the structure of the argumentation is. What kind of structural relations can
be distinguished?
Argumentation for or against a standpoint can be simply"single argumen-
tation'; which consists of one reason for or against the standpoint. But the
argumentation can also have a more complex argumentation structure, de-
pending on the way the defense of the standpoint has been organized in view
of (anticipated) doubts or criticism. In a more complexly structured
argumentation several reasons are put forward for or against the same stand-
point. These reasons can be alternative defenses of the standpoint which are
unrelated ("ft is impossible that you saw my mother last week in Sheringham
in Marks and Spencer's, because my mother died two years ago and Shering-
ham does not have a Marks and Spencer's"), but they can also be interdepen-
dent, so that there is a "parallel chain" of reasons which mutually strengthen
or complement each other ("We have to dine out because there is nothing left
at home and all the shops are closed"), or a "serial chain" of reasons ("I cannot
help you with painting next week, because next week I have no time because I
have to study for an exam").
The structure of argumentation is sometimes clearly indicated by the use of
connecting expressions such as "apart from X, Y", "Y, moreover X", and "for,
because Y, X" respectively. Or the structure may be clear from the content of
the arguments. Often, however, a problem in the analysis of complex argu-
mentation arises because the literal presentation makes insufficiently clear
how the argumentation is structured. To solve this problem, again, all kinds of
contextual and other pragmatic factors need to be taken into account.
Another concept argumentation theorists are especially interested in is that
of the fallacies. Virtually every normative theory of argumentation includes a
treatment of the fallacies. In some sense the quality of a normative theory of
argumentation can even be judged from the degree to which it makes it possi-
ble to provide an adequate analysis of the fallacies. Conversely, it stands to
reason that offering an analysis of notorious fallacies can be conducive to the
examination of the norms of sound argumentation.
According to the standard definition, a fallacy is an argument that seems
valid but is not (Hamblin 1970: 12). Well-known objections to this definition
point out that a great number of the generally recognized fallacies are not ar-
guments (e.g., "many questions'') and others (in modern interpretations) are
not invalid arguments (e.g., petitio principii) or the fallaciousness is not due
to the invalidity of the argument (e.g., argumentum ad verecundiam, argu-
mentum ad populum, argumentum ad hominem). Therefore, these types of
fallacies are not covered by the definition.
One explanation why fallacy theorists stuck with this definition, even
though many fallacies remain outside its scope, is that until recently most ap-
proaches to fallacies have been restrictively logico-centric. However, if the old
definition is dropped, as most modern argumentation ilieorists have done,
and fallacies are conceived of as discussion moves which in some way damage
the quality of argumentative discourse, it is easier to highlight what is falla-
cious about them. For this purpose, because of the adaptation of such a "situ-
ated" view of fallacies, a pragmatic approach that makes allowances for the
communicative and interactional context in which fallacies occur is required.
Wiiliout taking pragmatic knowledge into account, many fallacies cannot be
satisfactorily analyzed.
In the study of fallacies, a set of norms must be developed for distinguishing
between acceptable and unacceptable moves in argumentative discourse. The
criteria used in deciding whether such a norm has been violated, should also
be investigated. For determining if these criteria are satisfied in specific cases,
procedural tools, involving the use of various kinds of contextual informa-
tion, need to be designed. As a preliminary to this last enterprise, it must bees-
tablished whether the situation in which a would-be fallacy occurs is indeed
within the scope of the norms. All contributions to the fulfillment of these
tasks are pertinent to the development of argumentation theory.
Argument Interpretation and Reconstruction
Although not so much a concept as a research area, the problems involved in
argument interpretation and reconstruction require our attention when we are
dealing with the state of the art of studying the production, analysis, and eval-
uation of argumentation. These problems are approached quite differently in
each of the various theoretical contributions to the study of argumentation.
The interests of argument interpretation center around the general charac-
teristics of the organisation of discourse and the features of argumentative
discourse that ordinary language users employ to orient themselves with
when ip.terpreting arguments, and around the reasoning processes that are
applied in argument interpretation. When it comes to argument reconstruc-
tion, different methods are employed using various approaches such as for-
mallogic, informal logic, rhetoric and pragma -dialectics.
Argument interpretation is the basis of argument reconstruction. Argu-
mentative discourse can only be systematically reconstructed from a norma-
tive perspective, developed for the purposes of argument evaluation, after it
has been interpreted properly. This is why argumentation theorists need to
not only be engaged in developing methods for reconstructing argumenta-
tive discourse in a highly-motivated manner, but also in disclosing the way in
which ordinary language users proceed in making sense of argumentative
discourse. They have to detect the various verbal and nonverbal tools the ar-
guers put to good use in this endeavor in order to be in a better position to de-
velop reconstruction methods that consciously transcend ordinary interpre-
tative practice.
Argumentation-in the Field of Law
Legal practice is the argumentative practice par excellence. In modern society,
the institution of the court offers a place where various kinds of disputes that
cannot be resolved without recourse to specific procedures and the judgment
of disinterested outsiders can be resolved. Argumentation theorists are there-
fore well-advised to pay special attention to the argumentative proceedings
applied in legal contexts and the relevant findings in the study of argumenta-
tion in the field of law. As is evident in their writings, the founding fathers of
modern argumentation theory, Stephen Toulmin and Chaim Perelman, were
fully aware of this.
The study Of legal argumentation presents a great variety of approaches
and topics of interest. The different approaches usually lead to different re-
search topics and different conceptions of the relation between the soundness
criteria as applied in legal procedures and the soundness criteria as developed
in argumentation theory. In what manner do the two kinds of soundness cri-
teria relate to each other? What kinds of explanations can demonstrate the
differences? What are the reasonableness conceptions underlying the various
approaches to legal argumentation? Such questions are studied in this specif-
ic area of the study of argumentation and their answers can be illuminating to
the field as a whole.
1.3 Overview of the Book
Crucial Concepts in Argumentation Theory aims to provide interested readers
with an overview of the current study of some fundamental problems in ar-
gumentation theory. For this purpose, the next five chapters discuss in greater
detail the five concepts and the two prominent problem areas we have just
briefly described. Various theoretical perspectives are presented by authors
who have paid special attention to these concepts in their earlier work.
In chapter 2, Peter Houtlosser discusses the concept of point of view. He dif-
ferentiates between the approaches to points of view favored in the pragma-
dialectical argumentation theory, the socio-psychological research of persua-
sion, cognitive research, argumentative discourse analysis, structuralist infor-
mallogic, procedural informal logic, advocacy and debate, and communica-
tive action theory. He also indicates what the starting points could be for fur-
ther research. The chapter closes, just as all the other chapters, with an exten-
sive bibliography on the specific subject.
In chapter 3, Susanne Gerritsen devotes her attention to unexpressed prem-
ises. She first explains two traditional approaches, and then turns to the de-
ductive-inductive distinction and also discusses pluralism, modern deduc-
tivism, and the "neither pluralist nor deductivist stance". She then turns to the
nature of the unexpressed premise, focusing on the confusion of definitions,
the unexpressed premise as a gap-filler and utilized and necessary premises.
When discussing the role of the context, she pays particular attention to the
meaning of "context" and the position of the analyst. The relation between
unexpressed premises and argument schemes is also discussed.
Chapter 4, written by Bart Garssen, is devoted to argument schemes. After in-
troducing the concept, Garssen first concentrates on the use of argument
schemes in finding arguments. He discusses the classical topical tradition,
Whately's rhetoric, and Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca's new rhetoric. He
then turns to the relation between argument schemes and the evaluation of
argumentation. He pays particular attention to American textbooks on aca-
demic debate, Hastings' classification of types of warrants, Schellens' reason-
able argument forms, and the pragma-dialectical typology of argument
schemes. Before his concluding remarks, Garssen deals with the use of argu-
ment schemes for describing the characteristics of argumentative discourse.
Francisca Snoeck Henkemans, author of chapter 5, describes the different
conceptions of the various kinds of argumentation structures and the way in
which they are studied. In her historical overview, she deals with classical
rhetoric, enlightenment rhetoric, as well as the early textbooks. In her discus-
sion of modern approaches, Snoeck Henkemans explains the textbook dis-
tinctions between linked and convergent premises and between coordinative
and multiple argumentation. The theoretical approaches she considers worth
discus_sing in more detail are Freeman's Toulminian approach, her own prag-
ma-dialectical approach, and Walton's pragmatic approach. She also pays
specific attention to the methods of analysis in doubtful cases.
In chapter 6, I begin by recounting the histmy of the study of fallacies. I
move from the Aristotelian appr.oach to fallacies, to idols and sophisms, to the
ad fallacies, syllogistic and inductive fallacies, and the treatment of fallacies in
logic textbooks. Then I turn to modern theoretical approaches to fallacies
such as Hamblin's criticism of the "standard treatment", post-Hamblin treat-
ments of the fallacies, the Woods-Walton approach, the formal dialectical ap-
proach, the pragma-dialectical approach, and Walton's pragmatic approach.
Agnes van Rees, in chapter 7, concentrates on argument interpretation and
argument reconstruction. In her discussion of argument interpretation, she
highlights some general characteristics of discourse organisation features
prevalent in argumentative discourse, patterning and linguistic devices. The
interpretation section closes with some observations concerning the study of
cognitive processes. In the argument reconstruction section, Van Rees dis-
cusses logic, informal logic- paying special attention to unexpressed premis-
es and argumentation structure- rhetoric and pragma-dialectics.
Chapter 8, by Eveline Feteris, is devoted to argumentation in the field of law.
Feteris distinguishes different approaches to legal argumentation such as the
logical approach, the rhetorical approach and the dialogical approach. When
discussing the topics in legal argumentation research, she starts from the
pragmadialectical division of the research program into the philosophical
component, the theoretical component, the analytical component, the em-
pirical component, and the practical component. Feteris' contribution to
ends with a broad but selective bibliography.
Anscombre, J.-C., and 0. Ducrot (1983). L'argumentation dans Ia langue.
Brussels: Mardaga.
Barth, E.M. and E.C.W. Krabbe (1982). From Axiom to Dialogue. Berlin: Wal-
ter de Gruyter.
Blair, J.A, and R.H. Johnson (1987). "Argumentation as Dialectical." Argumen-
tation, 1, 1, 41-56.
Eemeren, F. H. van, and R. Grootendorst (1984). Speech Acts in Argumentative
Discussions. Berlin/Dordrecht: Walter de Gruyter/Foris.
Eemeren, F.H. van, and R. Grootendorst (1992). Argumentation, Communica-
tion, and Fallacies. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Eemeren, F.H. van, and P. Houtlosser (1999). "Strategic Manoeuvring in Ar-
gumentative Discourse." Discourse Studies, 1, 4, 479-497.
Eemeren, F. H. van, R. Grootendorst, A. F. Snoeck Henkemans, J.A. Blair, R.H.
Johnson, E.C.W. Krabbe, C. Plantin, D.N. Walton, C.A. Willard, J. Woods,
and D. Zarefsky (1996). Fundamentals of Argumentation Theory. Mahwah,
NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Govier, T. (1987). Problems in Argument Analysis and Evaluation. Dordrecht:
Hamblin, C.L. (1970). Fallacies. London: Methuen. Photographic reprint
Newport News, VA: Vale Press.
Johnson, R.H., and J.A. Blair (1977/1993). Logical Self-Defense. Toronto: Mc-
Graw-Hill Ryerson, 3rd ed., 1993.
Kopperschmidt, J. (1989). Methodik der Argumentationsanalyse. Stuttgart:
Fro mann-Holzboog.
N0lke, H. (1992). "Semantic constraints on argumentation: From polyphonic
microstructure to argumentative macro-structure." In: Eemeren, F.H. van,
R. Grootendorst, J.A. Blair, and C.A. Willard (Eds. ), Argumentation Illumi-
nated.Amsterdam: SICSAT/ISSA, 189-200.
Perelman, C., and L. Olbrechts-Tyteca (1958/1969 ). La nouvelle rhetorique:
traite del' argumentation. Bruxelles: l'Universite de Bruxelles. English trans-
lation The New Rhetoric. A Treatise on Argumentation. Notre Dame etc.:
University of Notre Dame Press, 1969.
Reboul, 0. (1990 ). "Rhetorique et dialectique chez Aristote:' Argumentation,

Toulmin, S.E. (1958). The Uses of Argument. Cambridge: Cambridge Univer-
sity Press.
Wenzel, J.W. (1980 ). "Perspectives on Argument." In: Rhodes, J., and S. Newell,
(Eds., 1980 ). Proceedings of the 1979 Summer Conference on Argument. Falls
Church: SCA, 112-133.
2 Points ofView
Peter Houtlosser
2.1 Introduction
In the study of argumentation, argumentation is generally considered to con-
sist of a set of statements put forward to support or rebut, or justify or refute,
some other statement. This other statement can provisionally be referred to
as the point of view. In evaluating its quality, the strength of an argumentation
can only be established if it is clear what point of view the argumentation is
supposed to support or rebut. When it is impossible to establish which point
of view is at issue, it also becomes impossible to determine whether the argu-
mentation is relevant, let alone whether it provides adequate support for that
particular point of view. As everyone knows, it is not always easy to find out
what point of view is at issue in a particular case. One of the central issues in
the study of argumentation is how an analyst can adequately identify the
points of view in an argumentative text or conversation. For this problem to
be resolved, it must first be clear which conception of a point of view should
be adopted.
How exactly is the object of argumentation to be understood? The answer
to this question depends largely on the theoretical perspective from which ar-
gumentation is approached. Different perspectives are motivated by different
concerns and interests. These concerns and interests have consequences for
the way in which the object of argumentation is conceived. Social psycholo-
gists, for instance, are interested in the degree to which persuasive messages
affect people's attitudes; informal logicians in the conditions under which
conclusions can be inferred from premises in natural arguments; discourse
analysts are interested in the way in which people propound their opinions in
talk exchanges; while dialecticians are interested in the degree to which theses
or standpoints are up to critical scrutiny in argumentative discussion.
This chapter provides an overview of the ways in which tlle object of argu-
mentation is characterized by various approaches to argumentation and tlle
methods used to identify that object. The overview will commence with the
characterization of the notion of"standpoint" as ids used in the pragma-di-
alectical approach to argumentation (the "Amsterdam School"). Preceding
this characterization, 2.2.1 briefly discusses the dialectical notion of"tllesis" as
it is used in classical and formal dialectic. This notion can be regarded as the
forerunner of the pragma-dialectical notion of a "standpoint': In order toes-
tablish in what respects the pragma-dialectical notion of a standpoint differs
from "equivalent" notions used in contemporary argumentation research,
"standpoints" will subsequently be compared to the notions used in socio-
psychological research on persuasion (2.2.3); cognitive research on reasoning
(2.2.4); argumentative discourse analysis (2.2.5); structuralist (2.2.6) and pro-
cedural (2.2.7); informal logic; advocacy and debate (2.2.8); and the commu-
nicative action approach to argumentation (2.2.9). In conclusion, some inter-
relations between the various notions are indicated; the procedures for iden-
tifying them are discussed, as well as some perspectives on further research
2.2 Different Approaches to Points ofView
2.2.1 Classical and Formal Dialectic
In the '['opica ( ed. 1966), Aristotle devotes particular attention to the dialecti-
cal notion of thesis. A thesis, as he sees it, is "the conception contrary to gene-
ral opinion but propounded by someone famous as a philosopher" (104b 119-
120 ). The fact that a thesis should be contrary to what people think about a
certain subject is emphasized when Aristotle adds: "Or a thesis may concern
matters on which we hold a reasoned view contrary to received opinions"
(104b 124-126). This definition seems to assume that non-philosophers can
also present a thesis, but the notion that a thesis is only worth considering
when presented by a reputed philosopher is emphasized in Aristotle's addi-
tional comment that "to pay any attention when an ordinary person sets forth
views which are contrary to received opinions is foolish" (104b 122-124). The
examples of theses that Aristotle supplies-"Contradiction is impossible", ''All
things are in a state of motion" (104b 121-123)- make it clear that the content
of a thesis should be a philosophical issue. Aristotle calls such an issue a di-
alectical problem. A dialectical problem is "something about which either men
have no opinion either way, or most people hold an opinion contrary to that
of the wise, or the wise contrary to that of most people, or something about
which members of each of these classes disagree among themselves" (104b
103-105). Phrased in modern terms, dialectical problems are disputable philo-
sophical issues.
As these definitions suggest, there is a close relation between theses and
dialectical problems. For all practical purposes, they may even be considered
to coincide: ''a thesis is always a problem" (104b 129) and "almost all dialectical
problems are now called theses" (104b 135-137). Nevertheless, there is a rele-
vant distinction: "not every problem is a thesis, since some problems are such
that we hold no opinion about them either way." This implies that a thesis, in
addition to pertaining to something controversial, also involves a choice or
opinion, which may be absent in the problem as such.
Dialectical problems are constitutive of"an investigation leading either to
choice and avoidance or to truth and knowledge, either by itself or as an aid to
the solution of some other such problem" (104b 101-103). In other words, for
moral or epistemological reasons, they are examined critically. But, as Aristo-
tle notes, only some problems and theses deserve dialectical examination: "It
is not necessary to examine every problem and every thesis but only one
about which doubt might be felt by the kind of person who requires to bear-
gued with" (105a 103-105). In order to be a candidate for critical examination,
then, a thesis or problem must, at least potentially, be disputable to someone
who is worth arguing with.
Once a thesis or problem enters the examination process, it is argued for,
and argued against, with the help of"dialectical propositions". Aristotle de-
fines a dialectical proposition as a "question which accords with the opinion
held by everyone or by the majority or by the wise- either all ofthe wise or the
majority or the most famous of them- and which is not paradoxical" (104a 8-
u). Rephrased in our current terminology, dialectical propositions are undis-
puted by those who matter intellectually; as such, they are the premises with
which a thesis can be defended.
To summarize, it can be said that by Aristotle's definition, a thesis is a repu-
ted philosopher's opinion concerning a disputable philosophical issue which
contradicts the opinion of others who are worth arguing with, is put forward
for critical examination, and must be defended by means of undisputed
In formal dialectic, a present -day descendant of classical dialectic, propound-
ing a thesis is not restricted to philosophers and a thesis is not restricted to
philosophical issues, as they were in Aristotelean dialectic.' Nicholas Rescher
is a philosopher who remains close to Aristotle; his focus is on systems of di-
alectic that provide a rational method for scientific inquiry. In Dialectics
(1977), Rescher developed a model of formal disputation. A formal disputa-
tion is a discussion involving three parties: a "proponent", an "opponent", and
a "determiner". The proponent formulates a thesis and builds a prima facie
case for this thesis by adducing "grounds"; the opponent attacks the propo-
nent's thesis and grounds by objecting and making counter-arguments to
which the proponent has to respond; the determiner presides as referee and
judge over the conduct of the dispute (1977: 3-4). Apart from this type of
asymmetrical dispute, Rescher also distinguishes a "symmetrical contradic-
tory debate': in which the opponent has to defend a thesis ofhis own, which is
contradictory to the thesis of the proponent. According to Rescher's analysis',
propounding a thesis consists of making a categorical assertion. Making such
an assertion involves taking on a commitment to defend both the assertion
and all logical consequences that follow from it. In addition, the proponent
takes on a similar kind of commitment for every subsequent move he makes
since all of them have to be categorical assertions.
Inspired by the semantic approach to argumentation developed by Arne
Naess (1966) and the studies on dialogue logic done by the "Erlangen School"
(Kamiah and Lorenzen 1967, Lorenzen and Lorenz 1978), Barth and Krabbe,
in From axiom to dialogue (1982), proposed sets of systems of rules for critical
dialogues aimed at resolving conflicts or disputes between a proponent and
an opponent concerning one or more externalized or "avowed" opinions. An
avowed opinion, in their conception, is a statement Tput forward by the pro-
ponent and attacked by the opponent. Tis the initial thesis of the discussion.
The next statements in the discussion are all "concessions"- they constitute
the basis from which T may be defended and attacked. In a simple or "pure"
only the proponent has to defend a thesis; he has nothing to attack
(except the attacks made by the opponent); the opponent has no thesis to de-
fend and just has to attack the proponent's thesis. In a mixed conflict, the op-
ponent has something to defend as well - a thesis that opposes the propo-
nent's thesis or a concession which is challenged by the proponent. In both
cases, the proponent has also engaged in attacking statements of the oppo-
nent (see Van Eemeren et al.1996: 265).
For Barth and Krabbe, discussing a particular thesis makes sense only if the
proponent is prepared to commit himself positively, i.e., to assume an obliga-
tion to defend the thesis against the opponent's criticisms, and if the oppo-
nent is prepared to take on a negative commitment, i.e., to make use ofhis un-
conditional right to criticize the proponent's thesis systematically. The same
types of commitments are to be taken on with regard to the concessions, the
other statements made in the discussion - the opponent will be positively
committed, the proponent negatively (1982: 57-58).
2.2.2 Pragma-Dialectics
In the pragma-dialectical argumentation theory, argumentative discourse is
studied with a view of critical evaluation. Starting from the assumption that
argumentation is part of a critical discussion aimed at resolving a difference
of opinion, a model has been developed of the stages of the resolution process
and the various types of speech acts that are instrumental in each of these
stages. The model of a critical discussion serves as a heuristic tool in the
process of analytic reconstruction and as an evaluative tool in the process of
critical assessment.
In the pragma-dialectical theory the object of argumentation is referred to
as the standpo'int. The pragma-dialectical conception of a standpoint agrees
with the metatheoretical principles of externalization, functionalization, so-
cialization, and dialectification. In agreeement with the principle of external-
ization, a standpoint is not viewed as a psychological attitude or mental state,
but as a verbally expressed position carrying specific commitments and re-
sponsibilities. In agreement with the principle of functionalization, not only
the proposition that expresses a standpoint is subject to analysis, but also the
communicative speech act of advancing a standpoint. In agreement with
principle of socialization, a standpoint is not just regarded as the individual
expression of someone's subjective opinion, but as a public statement put for-
ward for acceptance by a listener or reader who is assumed not to share the
speaker or writer's point of view. In agreement with the principle of dialectifi-
cation, acceptance of a standpoint is only considered to be justified when the
standpoint turns out to be resistant to the criticisms of an antagonist put for-
ward in a regimented procedure of pro and con discussion.
In Speech Acts in Argumentative Discussions, Frans van Eemeren and Rob
Grootendorst characterize a standpoint as an externalized position of a
speaker or writer in respect to a formulated opinion (1984: 5). This position
can be explicitly expressed with the help of a standard paraphrase:
My point of view in respect to [the opinion] 0 is that 0 is/is notthe case ( 1984: 114).
Conversely, a speaker or writer who - in this manner, or in a similar one -
states a position indicates that he regards the subject of that position as an
opinion (1984: 96).
A standpoint can be positive or negative. If it is positive, the speaker or
writer externalizes a positive position in respect to a formulated opinion ("I
think that women are better drivers than men"); if it is negative, he external-
izes a negative position ("I do not think that women are better drivers than
men"). The opinion to which the positive or negative position pertains can be
either positive or negative as well ("[I (do not) think that] women are better
drivers then men";"[I (do not) think that] women are not better drivers than
men"). In advancing a position in respect to an opinion, the speaker or writer
assumes a duty to defend that position when requested to do so. Depending
on whether the position is positive or negative, he has committed himself to
justifying or refuting that opinion for the listener or reader.
The speech activity of advancing a standpoint can be characterized by defin-
ing it as a speech act and by formulating its felicity conditions. In this endeav-
or, two questions are relevant: (1) What type of speech act (assertive, commis-
sive, directive, expressive, or declarative) is performed in advancing a stand-
point? (2) Under which conditions is this speech act performed happily?
According to Van Eemeren and Grootendorst ( 1984: 96), advancing a stand-
point is tantamount to performing an assertive- only speech acts belonging
to the class of assertives imply a commitment to the truth or correctness of
the propositional content of the speech act performed. Of course, in practice
not every standpoint is directly advanced as an assertive. Moreover, advanc-
ing a standpoint is more than performing just any assertive. Unlike most oth-
er assertives (e.g., announcements), standpoints are typically advanced in a
context in which the listener or reader is supposed to have doubts regarding
the acceptability of the assertive.
As with other speech acts, the felicity conditions of advancing a standpoint
can be divided into two groups: (1) identity conditions indicating what makes
an utterance a performance of a particular speech act; (2) correctness condi-
tions indicating what an entirely correct performance of that speech act
amoupts to (Van Eemeren and Grootendorst 1984: 42). Jointly, the identity
conditions and the correctness conditions constitute a definition of the
speech act, in this case, the speech act of advancing a standpoint. For advan-
cing a positive standpoint, these felicity conditions read as follows (Houtlosser
1995= 75-83):
Identity Conditions
Propositional Content Condition
1 The propositional content of the standpoint consists of an expressed opinion 0.
2 0 consists of one or more utterances.
Essential Condition
Advancing a standpoint counts as taking responsibility for a positive position in
respect to 0, i.e., as assuming an obligation to defend a positive position in re-
spect to 0, if requested to do so.
Correctness Conditions
Preparatory Condition
1 SpeakerS b-elieves that listener L does not (already, at face value, completely)
2 S believes that he can justify 0 for L with the help of arguments.
Sincerity Condition
1 S believes that 0 is the case. 4
2 S has the intention to justify 0 for L with the help of arguments if requested to
do so.
In the pragma-dialectical perspective on argumentative discourse, an utter-
ance can also function as a standpoint without having been presented as such.
An informative assertive, for instance, may start to function as a standpoint if
the listener questions the information provided in the assertive. In such a
case, the speaker has retrospectively committed an offense against the inter-
actional principle that prescribes that speakers must not perform speech acts
that are not acceptable to the listener (Van Eemeren and Grootendorst 1991).
If the speaker has indeed performed a speech act that appears not acceptable
to the listener, then he should attempt to make it acceptable in the second in-
stance -or he must retract it. This means that any assertive that is not explicit-
ly or implicitly accepted by the listener - and that is not retracted by the
speaker- incurs an obligation for the speaker to justify his assertive for the lis-
tener. If he complies with this obligation, he in effect supports the opinion
that his assertive is acceptable and appears to take a positive standpoint in re-
spect of this opinion.
Non-assertive speech acts may also occasion a speaker to defend a stand-
point. If the speaker, for example, requests a listener to do something ("Hold
the door for me, will you?") and the listener makes it clear that he is not in-
clined to comply with that request ("Why?"), the speaker must either justify
his request ("I've got these boxes to carry") or retract it ("OK, leave it")- oth-
erwise he obstructs the normal process of interaction. If the speaker justifies
his request, he actually supports the opinion that his request is acceptable.
Just as in the case of an assertive, he then implies that he takes a positive stand-
point in respect of the opinion at issue.s
2.2.3 Socio-Psychological Research of Persuasion
At the center of the socio-psychological research of persuasion is the notion
of "attitude': According to Daniel O'Keefe in his critical survey, Persuasion
(1990), with the term attitude, social psychologists refer to a person's inner,
positive or negative evaluation of an object- another person, an institution,
an event, a product, a policy, and so on- based on specific beliefs about the
supposed properties of that object. Attitudes are not innate; they are a
"residue of experience" (1990: 18 ). They are also enduring and involve a dispo-
sition to act in a certain way. Someone may, for instance, have adopted a nega-
tive attitude towards the European Union as a result of years of negative re-
porting; his attitude will not change just because he has received a few positive
reports, and the tendency is for him to continue to express himself negatively
rather than positively about the Union (see also Krech and Crutchfield 1969:
When this conception of an attitude is compared with the pragma -dialectical
I .
' definition of a standpoint, some clear differences emerge. First, an attitude is mental state and a standpoint is a position that is externalized in a statement.
an inner state of mind and a standpoint is an externalized position. The exter- Second, the commitments involved in adopting a belief and the commit-
nalized position may- and, in empirical reality, more often than not will- of ments involved in advancing a standpoint differ in two respects. In the first
course be based on some inner state. If someone advances a standpoint in a respect, someone who adopts a certain belief assumes certain commitments
discussion, say the standpoint that the European Union is an undesirable in- towards himself, while someone who advances a standpoint, in the first place,
stitution, it is more likely that he already has a more negative attitude towards assumes commitments towards others.
Only in the latter case do the com-
the Union than a positive one. Nevertheless, there is no guarantee that this is mitments really create obligations that the speaker must live up to in the en-
indeed the case. A second difference is that only standpoints carry an obliga- suing interaction. If, for instance, someone believes that a Labor government
tion to argue. Attitudes do not, despite the fact that standpoints are often in- will make for a new dawn, he is only committed to that belief towards himself.
spired by attitudes and sometimes even based on attitudes. Advancing a Even if he were he to vote for the Tories in the next election, there is not really
standpoint creates certain commitments, having an attitude does not. A third much that can be critically stated about his decision (save that he should see
difference between attitudes and standpoints is that attitudes involve a dispo- an analyst). But if he seriously advanced the standpoint that Labor would ac-
sition to act in a certain way while standpoints per se do not. A speaker's stand- tually lead to a new dawn, then he can no longer get away with asserting in the
point does not necessarily have to agree with his actions; viewed dialectically, same discussion that one should vote for the Tories. By advancing the new-
it only needs to be consistent with other externalized positions propounded dawn standpoint he has assumed an obligation to defend that standpoint.
by the same speaker in the same discussion. In all other cases, a tu quoquefalla- This implies that he is no longer free to say things that contradict that stand-
ey is committed when a discrepancy is pointed out between someone's stand- point.
point and his behavior. A fourth and last difference between attitudes and Another difference between beliefs and standpoints is that someone who
standpoints is that attitudes are enduring and standpoints are not per se. has adopted a belief should have had good reasons for its adoption. Apart
Viewed dialectically, their existence lasts only until the end of the critical dis- from the initial requirement at the time of adoption, there is no requirement
cussion in which they are scrutinized. Then they have either been accepted, in to produce reasons for having a belief. A speaker who has advanced a stand-
which case they are no longer subjected to doubt and no longer have the status point, however, may at all times be required to produce arguments in its favor.
of a standpoint, or they are retracted, in which case they cease to exist. Among other differences between beliefs and standpoints is the fact that
2.2-4 Cognitive Research on Reasoning
In the area of cognitive research on reasoning, the notion of"belief" plays an
important role. According to Gilbert Harman, whose books Thought (1973)
and Change in view(1986) are prominent in this field, "beliefs" are mental atti-
tudes. Unlike the attitudes that are central to the socio-psychological research
on persuasion, beliefs are mental attitudes that do not pertain to an object,
but to a relation between an object and a certain feature, or to a (supposed)
state of affairs. "Paul is in the garden", for instance, expresses the belief that the
feature "being in the garden" comes with the object "Paul"; and "It is raining"
expresses the belief that the present state of the world is such that it is raining.
According to Harman, someone who has a certain belief is committed to fully
accept what he believes/ This person does not find it necessary to investigate
whether what he believes is really true. He also assumes that he has (or had)
good reasons to accept what he believes as true. All the same, he does not have
to be capable of justifying that belief (1986: 13-14, 46-53).
To what extent do beliefs differ from standpoints? First, a belief is an inner
beliefs belong in a context of inquiry and standpoints in a context of justifica-
tion. A context of inquiry means that reasoning takes place based on certain
premises; inferences are made in which one belief emanates, as it were, from
other beliefs. Beliefs are adopted on the basis of other beliefs. If a belief is re-
jected because it turns out to be false, this usually leads to abandoning other
beliefs as well, namely the beliefs from which it emanated. A context of justifi-
cation implies that a previously disputed standpoint is defended, although
the arguments may in practice, of course, also be advanced before the stand-
point is put forward. Dialectically speaking, however, the standpoint precedes
the arguments- otherwise there is nothing to defend.
2.2. 5 Argumentative Discourse Analysis
In argumentative discourse analysis, "opinion" is one of the most prominent
notions. Deborah Schiffrin (1985, 1987, 1990) presents a characterization of
opinions which is based on her analyses of everyday discourse. She describes
opinions as inherently disputable statements in which an individual, subjec-
I .
tive and evaluative position is presented in respect to a possible, existing, or
desirable state of affairs.9 A distinctive feature of opinions appears to be that
they are not "externally verifiable': According to Schiffrin, the term opinion
refers to a mental state which is only accessible to the speaker himself (1987:
236; 1990: 244). Someone who expresses an opinion is primarily committed to
the sincerity of his words, not to the truth of what he says. Even when the
speaker refuses to justify his opinion, he cannot be denied the right to main-
tain that opinion. According to Schiffrin, expressed opinions carry no burden
of proof. This feature, to a certain extent, makes opinions immune from criti-
cism (1985: 40;1990: 248).
At first glance, opinions and standpoints seem to have a great deal in com-
mon. Both opinions and standpoints are a type of statement, both of these
statements express some sort of position which, as a rule, will not go undis-
puted, and both opinions and standpoints can be individual and subjective.
But there are also some crucial differences.
According to Schiffrin, opinions do not carry a burden of proof; stand-
points do; a standpoint must be defended against criticisms. If a standpoint
turns_ out to be untenable in a discussion, it would be unreasonable to main-
tain it- although it may, of course, be put forward in a new discussion, so that
it may be defended again. According to Schiffrin, an opinion can also be
maintained if the critic, at the conclusion of a discussion, is still not convinced
of its acceptability. In her view, opinions are subjected to different rationality
criteria than standpoints. Yet, "in everyday life, not everyone will agree that
opinions do not need to be defended. Although Schriffrin's characterization
of an opinion is avowedly founded on analyses of everyday discourse, it is in
this respect slightly esoteric.
Another important difference between opinions and standpoints is that
someone who expresses an opinion primarily commits himself to being sin-
cere, not to being right, as is the case with someone who advances a stand-
point. When a standpoint is advanced, the sincerity of the speaker is implied
(though not necessarily achieved). Again, Schiffrin's conception of an opin-
ion seems to depart from the ordinary language user's understanding of an
opinion. As a general rule, someone who utters an opinion in everyday life not
only wants to assert that he is being sincere, but also that he is right.
2.2.6 Structuralist Informal Logic
The notion of"conclusion" in the structuralist approach to argumentation is
commonly used by prominent informal logicians such as Stephen Thomas in
Practical Reasoning in Natural Language (1986), Trudy Govier in A Practical
L__ -
Study of Argument (1992) and Ralph Johnson and Anthony Blair in Logical
Self-Defense ( 1994). Both Govier and Johnson and Blair regard a conclusion as
a proposition that is derived from one or more other propositions or premis-
es: "The conclusion emerges from the premises" (Govier 1992: 27). They also
regard a conclusion as a statement that is in dispute, and in support of which,
reasons have been put forward: "Any sentence expressing an opinion [that
someone has asserted and is defending] expresses what is called a conclusion
of the argument" (Johnson and Blair 1994: 10, 29-30 ); "The conclusion is the
claim or statement that is in dispute and that we are trying to support with
reasons" (Govier 1992: 5).
As a consequence, their characterization of a con-
clusion does not apply to the final points of logical patterns that are struc-
turally parallel to, but functionally different from, arguments. For example,
instances of explanatory reasoning such as "Someone else was appointed to
the case, because the person to whom it originally had been assigned was on
holiday" parallel the logical structure of arguments such as "He will surely
come back, because he left the pictures of his mother here"; the proposition
"Someone else was appointed to the case" in the explanation, however, can-
not count as a conclusion in the informal logic sense, since it is not in dispute
and no attempt is made to support it. In this respect, Govier's and Johnson
and Blair's use of the term conclusion differs slightly from the way in which the
word "conclusion" is used in everyday discourse. Colloquially, a conclusion
may very well be the result of a piece of explanatory reasoning.
Because he does not make a distinction between argumentative and
explanatory reasoning, for Thomas a conclusion can also be the result of ex-
planatory reasoning.
He defines a conclusion as "any statement that an au-
thor presents as justified or explained by some reason in a discourse" (1986:
34). In comparing conclusions to standpoints, it is preferable to start from
Thomas' definition of a conclusion, because, by using that definition, the dif-
ferences between standpoints and conclusions become clearer than when one
employs Govier's and Johnson and Blair's definitions.
The first difference, then, is that a conclusion may be a statement that is
made (more) acceptable by other statements, but also a statement that is
made (more) comprehensible by other statements. With a standpoint, the
only issue is acceptability. Formulas such as "I shall now elucidate my stand-
point" may be colloquial, but more often than not, such formulas serve to im-
munize a standpoint from criticism. By acting as if their standpoint only
needs elucidation, speakers suggest that the standpoint has already been ac-
cepted by their antagonist, whereas its acceptability was the issue all along.
The second difference between conclusions and standpoints is that conclu-
sions end a piece of reasoning whereas standpoints get the discussion - and
the argumentation - started. In empirical reality, a standpoint may also be
concluded from arguments previously propounded and a conclusion may
precede the reasons that support it, but logically, conclusions emerge from
premises already stated, whereas dialectically, standpoints precede their de-
fense. These differences have, by the way, nothing to do with the nature or the
formal properties of the statements by means of which they are advanced; de-
pending on the perspective one takes, the same statement may be analyzed as
a conclusion or as a standpoint.
2.2.7 Procedural Informal Logic
In the procedural informal logic approach of argumentation expounded by
Stephen Toulmin (1958!I988) in The Uses of Argument, the notion of a "claim"
is central. Toulmin starts from the assumption that a speaker who makes an
assertion, by definition, puts forward a claim: "A man who puts forward an as-
sertion makes a claim- a claim on our attention and to our belief. [ ... ] The
claim [ ... ] in an assertion is like a claim to a right or a title" (1988: n). The
"mer_its" of such a claim depend, according to Toulmin, on the arguments that
can be produced in its support.'3 If a speaker advances a claim in an assertion,
the listener has the unconditional right to challenge the speaker to justify this
claim. In Toulmin's model of argumentation, this challenge is met by advanc-
ing data. The data may invoke the question of why they are relevant to the
claim. Then, a warrant must he advanced, which may in turn need to be sup-
ported by a backing. Also, conditions of rebuttal may be added to the claim,
which may occasion the speaker to insert a qualijier(1988: 97-105).
According to Toulmin, an adequate argumentative procedure does not
start by advancing a claim, but by posing a question in which a problem is pre-
sented. Only then is the claim advanced. The claim is presented as the opti-
mally appropriate answer to the problem question - as the solution of the
problem. Procedurally, claims are thus connected to problem questions and
their solution (1988: 17-22).
How do claims relate to standpoints? Just like in the advancement of a
standpoint, by advancing a claim, the speaker purports that what he is assert-
ing is acceptable. In this respect, there is no difference between claims and
standpoints. Nor is there a difference between claims and standpoints as re-
gards the obligation to provide support when either is challenged. According
to Toulmin's model, claims should be supported to meet the question as to the
grounds on which the claim is based. Standpoints should be supported or re-
tracted to . meet the doubts of a listener. A significant difference between
claims and standpoints is that, according to Toulmin, a claim is implied by
every assertion, whereas not every assertion automatically implies a stand-
point.'4 In order for an assertion to be a standpoint, additional conditions
must be fulfilled (see 2.2.1).
.2.8 Advocacy and bebate
A debate in the North American style centers around "propositions." As
Austin Freeley describes it in his prominent book, Argumentation and Debate
(1993), in a debate two parties attempt, with the help of argumentation, to jus-
tify or refute to a judge a statement about which a difference of opinion exists.
The affirmative side defends the statement in conflict; the negative side at-
tacks it. The statement that is defended and attacked is called the debate
proposition, or proposition (1993: 38). The affirmative side has the burden of
proof of the proposition. This means that they need to justify the proposition
convincingly to the judge. The negative side has no burden of proof; their
only task is to attack the proposition ( 1993: 43).
American debate distinguishes between three types of proposition: pro-
positions of fact, propositions of value and propositions of policy (1993: 47-
48).'5 The burden of proof for these types of propositions is, to a certain ex-
tent, fixed. To each proposition a certain defense scheme applies that indi-
cates which stock issues should be addressed in defending the proposition.
Stock issues are questions that are related to a particular type of proposition.
The answers to these questions constitute direct justifications or refutations
of the proposition (1993: 6o) .'
In a debate, the affirmative side should justify
all positive answers in order to make the debate proposition acceptable to the
judge. In doing so, this party must provide supporting contentions for all the
positive answers to the questions formulated in the stock issues. The negative
side needs to refute only one positive answer. If they succeed in doing so, the
proposition becomes unacceptable to the judge in accordance with the rules
of debate (1993: 61).
There are a number of similarities between debate propositions and stand-
points. Both are externalized statements and both presuppose a difference of
opinion. Both debate propositions and standpoints involve a burden of
proof, and the proponent can acquit himself of his burden of proof by for-
warding arguments.
There are also differences. The first difference is contextual. Debate pro-
positions are, by definition, part of a formal, regimented debate. Standpoints,
on the other hand, appear both in formalized, regimented and in informal,
non-regimented discussions. The second difference is that in a debate that
proceeds in accordance with the rules, each party has one and only one task
with respect to the proposition; depending on their position, one party must
defend the proposition, the other must attack it. In an ordinary discussion,
the participants have more options. Someone who attacks a standpoint may
also advance and defend the opposite standpoint, and the defender of the ini-
tial standpoint may start attacking this opposite standpoint. These differ-
ences have consequences for the burden of proof. In a debate, the negative
side has no burden of proof for the opposite proposition. In a discussion, the
party attacking a standpoint has no burden of proof for the opposite stand-
point, but if this party advances an opposite standpoint, it assumes a burden
of proof.
2.2.9 Communicative Action Theory
Various argumentation theorists have taken their inspiration from Jiirgen
Habermas' theory of communicative action. One of the most prominent
among them is Josef Kopperschmidt. According to Kopperschmidt, argu-
mentation is presented in order to justify a thesis. In Kopperschmidt's ap-
proach, the notion of"thesis" is used in a different sense than the one devel-
oped in classical and formal dialectics.'
To clarify what "thesis" in Kopper-
schmidt's sense means, it is imperative to explain his Habermasian theoretical
framework. This framework i ~ presented in its fullest form in Methodik der
Argumentationsanalyse (1989; see, for an English introduction, Kopper-
Just like Habermas, Kopperschmidt is of the opinion that the validity basis
( Geltungsgrund) of normal communication is constituted by three validity
claims underlying every communicative act: comprehensibility, sincerity,
and truth or rightness. In the normal course of action, speakers and listeners
mutually assume that their utterances are intersubjectively valid in these
three respects; the validity claims underlying their utterances remain implic-
it. The validity claims may, however, always be made problematic and thus be-
come explicit. This happens if one of the interlocutors makes it clear that an
utterance is not- or might not be - intersubjectively valid in every respect
(1989: 16, 40-43).
According_ to Kopperschmidt, only truth claims and rightness claims need
argumentative support if they are made problematic. Truth claims are im-
plied by assertive speech acts. These claims refer to (supposed) states of affair;
the speaker guarantees that the information provided in his assertive is reli-
able. Rightness claims are implied by directive speech acts. These claims refer
to actions.wherebythe speaker guarantees that performing the action men-
tioned in his directive is legitimized by a mutual willingness to act (1989: 16,
If a truth claim or a rightness claim has been made into an issue in the dis-
course, it has been, as Kopperschmidt calls it, virtualized (1989: 97). Virtualiz-
ing a truth claim or a rightness claim implies that its legitimacy is made de-
pendent upon argumentative support; the claim is made the subject of a dis-
cussion in which it now functions as a thesis. As soon as the legitimacy of the
validity claim is established with the help of arguments, it no longer has the
function of a thesis (1989: 98).
A speaker can make an issue of a validity claim by explicitly stating that
what he asserts is true or by advancing arguments. A listener can virtualize the
validity claim underlying a speaker's utterance by explicitly disputing that va-
lidity claim, by asking whether it is justified, or by requesting that the speaker
advance arguments in its support (1989: 19, 23).
In Kopperschmidt's view, performing an assertive or directive speech act
implies a guarantee that the underlying validity claim can be made legitimate.
If a speaker performs such a speech act, he undertakes an obligation to defend
the thesis that may result from that speech act, if asked to do so, with the help
of arguments. If a thesis originates from an assertive speech act, the argu-
ments should show what has been asserted to be true; if the thesis originates
from a directive speech act, the arguments should show that it is all right to
perform the action mentioned in the directive ( 1989: 18, 36).
How do theses relate to standpoints? The terms thesis and standpoint ap-
pear to refer to the same thing, albeit from different theoretical perspectives.
Both theses and standpoints are part of a discussion situation and both create
an obligation to defend, which can be redeemed by advancing arguments.
One difference, in Kopperschmidt's view, is that a thesis is not a statement but
a virtualized validity claim. Theses are not put forward as such. If a speaker
appears to be explicitly advancing a thesis ("I hereby advance the thesis that
women are better drivers than men are"), in Kopperschmidt's analysis this as-
sertion does not count as a thesis. In that analysis, the thesis would be the vir-
tualization of the validity claim that it is true that women are better drivers
than men. In contrast, in a pragma-dialectical perspective, a standpoint is ad-
vanced directly. This is, of course, not to say that a standpoint must necessari-
ly always be put forward as such. Because the acceptability of every speech act
can be made an issue of discussion, speech acts other than advancing a stand-
point may also require defense. The speech act involved is then to be recon-
structed as a standpoint.
I 2.3 Starting Points for Further Research
A clear distinction appears to exist between, on the one hand, the notions
"conclusion", "claim", "debate proposition" and "thesis", which, from different
perspectives, refer to the same or a similar concept as the pragma-dialectical
notion of a standpoint. On the other hand, the notions "attitude", "belief" and
"opinion", refer to a different concept. "Attitude': "belief" and "opinion" refer
to internal states or expressions of such internal states, which places them in a
different category than standpoints. This does not mean, however, that the in-
ternal states to which they refer do not play a role in advancing a standpoint.
Their "positive" role is roughly that when a standpoint is advanced, the speak-
er makes it known to others that he takes a position towards a proposition
that he considers to be under dispute, i.e., an opinion. This opinion is ex-
pressed in the standpoint. Expressing the opinion implies that the speaker has
a certain belief (positive in the case of a positive standpoint, negative in the
case of a negative standpoint). Advancing a standpoint commits the speaker
to having that belief. The opinion and belief aspects are included in the
speech act definition of advancing a standpoint; the opinion aspect in the
propositional content condition, the belief aspect in the sincerity condition.
A standpoint advanced in the discourse will sometimes also be based on an
attitude that corresponds withthe position the speaker claims to uphold. But
since this is, pragmatically speaking, not required, attitudes are not a consti-
tutive part of the pragma -dialectical definition of a standpoint.
In the concluding part of this chapter, two questions remain to be an-
swered: what clues do the approaches discussed earlier offer in the identifica-
tion of the entity they are interested in, and to what extent are these clues rele-
vant for identifying standpoints in the pragma-dialectical sense?
Apart from cognitive research on reasoning, all the approaches discussed
above are concerned with problems of identification. In persuasion research,
several techniques are used to identify a person's attitudes. Most prominent
among them is the "direct measurement technique;' in which respondents are
asked to what extent they evaluate a certain object positively or negatively, or
are requested to evaluate a number of properties of the object to which a sup-
posed pertains (O'Keefe 1990: 19-21). Among the less direct tech-
niques are the "quasi-direct measurement technique" and the "indirect mea-
surement technique", in which verbal and nonverbal reactions to evaluative
statements are measured that indicate a certain attitude (O'Keefe 1990: 20-26,
Krech and Crutchfield 1964: 681-683). None of these techniques can be ap-
plied for identifying standpoints in argumentative discourse.
In Schiffrin's view, a structural clue for identifying opinions is that opinions
are often expressed at the beginning or at the end of conflict discourse. This
clue might also apply to standpoints advanced in discussions that come close
to the ideal of critical discussion; standpoints are advanced in the confronta-
tion stage of such a discussion and maintained or retracted in the concluding
stage. Other clues for identifying opinions can, according to Schiffrin, be
found in markers such as "it is my opinion that" and internal markers
such as attitude indicating verbs ("think", "believe") and modal expressions
("should", "could"). The indicative function of these verbs and expressions
derives from the fact that they can signal the uncertainty involved in express-
ing an opinion (1990: 244). Although a standpoint does not presuppose un-
certainty but a difference of opinion, the markers of opinions may also be
useful for identifying standpoints. A difference of opinion may, after all, im-
ply some kind of uncertainty.
According to the structuralist informal logicians, conclusions can be iden-
tified both with the help of clues in the presentation and clues in the context.
To the first category belong expressions by which a speaker explicitly indi-
cates that he has the intention of presenting a conclusion, such as "I conclude
that", "so': "therefore': "must", "cannot" and "it is impossible that': Clues in the
context can be derived from the type of discourse, for instance if the text is a
letter to the editor (Thomas 1986: 23, Govier 1992: 6, 40, Johnson and Blair
1994: 13-15, 29-30). In principle, these clues can also be useful for identifying
standpoints, but reliance on indicating expressions presupposes a systematic
pragma-linguistic analysis of these expressions and a reliance on clues in the
discourse context presupposes systematic analysis of discourse in particular
contexts. Another clue is provided by the fact that every argument must have
a conclusion. Thus, if an argument has been identified as such, there should
definitely be a conclusion as well. In order to be able to identify arguments, in-
formal logicians have listed characteristics oflogical structures that they con-
sider to be arguments; the listed characteristics can also be useful for identify-
ing argumentation in the functional sense (e.g., Johnson and Blair 1994: 15-
Toulmin's model appears to provide a clue for identifying clainls: a state-
mentisaclaimifitis supported by data (and a warrant) (1958/88: 97-105). The
presence of data and/or a warrant may thus indicate the presence of a claim.
However, a statement may also have the status of a claim before data (with or
without a warrant) have been put forward, so this clue is not always relevant.
Another clue appears to be provided by Toulmin's view that every assertion
implies a claim (1958/1988: u). Unfortunately, Toulmin does not make it clear
what is meant by an assertion. If assertions are to be regarded as indicative
statements with particular functional characteristics that distinguish them
from other indicative statements, then the data and the warrant cannot be re-
garded as assertions.'
If, however, data and warrants were also regarded as as-
sertions, this would run counter to the functional distinctions in Toulmin's
model. All in all, it can be concluded that Toulmin does not really
clues for identifying claims, let alone clues that are also relevant for identify-
ing standpoints.
Debate propositions are explicitly formulated at the beginning of the de-
bate. Identifying them is therefore never a problem. All the same, Freeley
mentions a clue for the identification of inciting propositions: they will often
contain the word "should" (1993: 59). Without further analysis, however, this
observation is not of much interest.
In Kopperschmidt' s view, a speaker can promote a validity claim to a thesis
by making the claim explicit. He can do this by using so-called meta -linguistic
expressions such as "I assert that" and "it is true that". The listener can pro-
mote a validity claim to a thesis by using expressions such as "it is not true
that" and "I disagree", and by asking"validityquestions" such as "why?" (1989:
65). Another clue is the presence of argumentation: in Kopperschmidt's
analysis argumentation is put forward to legitimize a virtualized validity
claim, and thereby to justify a thesis (1989: 70-73).Although in the latter case,
the pl:oblem is again shifted to the identification of argumentation, it should
be clear that the clues provided by Kopperschmidt are, in principle, also rele-
vant for the identification of standpoints.
( As argued in Houtlosser (1995), the pragma:-dialectical definition of ad-
i vancing a standpoint as a act provides fruitful criteria for identifying
standpoints. In particular, the first preparatory condition offers a powerful
criterion: a speaker who advances a standpoint is committed to believing that
the listener does not accept the expressed opinion to which the standpoint
pertains at face value. If this belief is justified, a standpoint must, in principle,
be defended. This is so because everyday interaction is governed by the inter-
actional principle that prescribes that speakers should not perform any
beech acts that are not acceptable to the listener. If a speech act turns out to
Tbe unacceptable to the addressee, something has to happen; the speech act
should be made acceptable or retracted. As a consequence, someone who as-
serts something which he believes not to be acceptable to the addressee
should justify or retract his assertion; if he wants to maintain it, he has the
obligation to_ defend it. Thus, the assertion, in principle, has the status of a

In order to be able to make adequate use of this criterion, it must be made
clear how it can be determined whether the first preparatory condition of ad-
vancing a standpoint is fulfilled. Three types of potential clues are available to
determine .whether this is the case (1995: 93-98). First, there are indications in
the presentation of an assertive by the speaker. Additions to the assertive
proper- the propositional content of the assertive- by means of expressions
such as "I believe that" and "I think that" may signal that the first preparatory
condition is fulfilled. Strictly speaking, by adding expressions such as these,
the speaker does something that is superfluous. The fact that he believes that
what he asserts is true is already implied by his assertive; it is formulated in its
sincerity condition. If the speaker can at the same time be assumed to obey
the Gricean maxim that prohibits superfluity, it can be justified to infer an
implicature from the addition, i.e., the implicature that the speaker thinks
that the listener will not accept the assertive proper at face value.
Second, the listener's reaction to the speaker's assertive may be a clue. If the
listener casts doubt on the speaker's assertive and the speaker has understood
that this is the case, then again the first preparatory condition for advancing a
standpoint is fulfilled. In order to be able to identify expressions of doubt by
the listener, insight into the differences between the two main categories of
listeners' reactions pertaining to an assertive's acceptability and listeners' re-
actions pertaining to an assertive's comprehensibility can be of help. Only re-
actions that belong to the former category indicate that doubt is cast on a
speaker's assertive.
Third, clues can be found in follow-ups by the speaker. Here too, two
categories can be distinguished: follow-ups pertaining to the acceptability of
the preceding assertive and follow- ups pertaining to the comprehensibility of
the preceding assertive. The first category consists of statements that are de- ',
signed to further inform the listener, such as specifications, definitions, and (
explanations. The second consists of statements that are intended to convince 1
the listener, such as motivations, justifications and reasons. Only the latter
type of statement indicates that the listener is assumed not to have accepted
the preceding assertive at face value, and may thus point to a standpoint.'9 J
In Houtlosser (1995), a broad range of clues for the fulfillment of the first
preparatory condition of advancing a standpoint are discussed, as they ap-
pear in the speaker's presentation, his follow-up or in the listener's reaction.
Further research has to make it clear which clues can be derived from the oth-
er felicity conditions. In such research, for instance, one could investigate the
ways that speakers assume an obligation to defend a standpoint and express
their readiness to fulfill that obligation, and in what ways listeners attribute
such an obligation to the speaker.
' ~
i '
! I
1 The term formal dialectic was introduced by Hamblin (1970 ).
2 There are significant similarities between the pragma-dialectical defini-
tion of a standpoint and the notion of standpoint in everyday life, but there
are also differences. In everyday life, a standpoint need not necessarily be
presented to others. It is, for instance, common practice for people to
maintain that they hold a particular standpoint on a certain matter with-
out ever having presented this point of view to others, or even without hav-
ing expressed it. It is also not the case that in everyday life standpoints nec-
essarily imply a burden of proof. People may think that they are entitled to
maintain their standpoint even when they are not capable of supporting it
adequately; witness familiar contentions such as "This is my point of view
and I have every intention to stick to it:'
3 Along the same lines, the felicity conditions for a negative standpoint can
be stated. References to a speaker and listener apply, mutatis mutandis, also
to a writer and a reader.
4 Foll9wing Van Eemeren and Grootendorst's (1984: 21, 42) critique of Sear-
le's formulation of the sincerity condition of promises, it should be added
that someone who has advanced a standpoint does not really have to be-
lieve that the opinion to w h i c ~ the standpoint pertains is the case; the point
is that he is publicly committed to believing that it is the case.
5 For the problems involved in 'reconstructing standpoints that are not pre-
sented as such, see Van Eemeren, Grootendorst, Jackson, and Jacobs (1993:
6 For a survey of the various positions on the ontological status of the con-
tent ofbeliefs, see Schiffer (1987: xvi-xvii).
7 Harman does not explain how a commitment to oneself can best be under-
stood. For a totally opposite view of the relation between belief and accep-
tance, see Cohen (1989).
8 The commitments towards others also involve a commitment to the belief
that the opinion to which the standpoint pertains is true. As indicated in
2.2.1, the speaker does not necessarily need to have this belief, but he is nev-
ertheless responsible for having it- he cannot deny the belief without con-
tradicting himself (as happens, for instance, in "In my view they should
leave it at that, but I don't think that they should").
9 An opinion always expresses a belief, but- in Schiffrin's definition- there-
verse is not the case: not every belief is inherently disputable.
10 For a conception of opinions that is closer to common sense see Weddle
(1988); an elaboration of such a conception in terms of speech acts is given
by Atelsek (1981).
n Interestingly, Whately (1826!1975) reserves the term conclusion to refer to a
proposition which is proven in an argument; before it is proven, it is still
considered a question.
12 Although Fisher (1988) closely follows Thomas, he sticks to this distinc-
13 In Toulmin, Rieke, and Janik (1979), claims are defined as "assertions put
forward publicly for general acceptance- with the implication that there
are underlying 'reasons' that could show them to be 'well-founded' and
therefore entitled to be generally accepted" (1979: 29 ).
14 In their polyphonic approach, Anscombre and Ducrot (1989) assume that
every assertion expresses different (implicit) viewpoints, for one of which,
as a rule, the speaker claims responsibility (see also Van Eemeren et al.1996:
318-322). A viewpoint in this sense is not a standpoint as conceived in
argumentation theory.
15 In the pragma-dialectical argumentation theory, a similar distinction is
made between types of opinion to which a standpoint may pertain (Van
Eemeren and Grootendorst 1992: 159). Crawshay-Williams distinguishes
between types of statements on the basis of relevant testing criteria: logi-
cal, conventional and empirical (1957: 8-13; see also Van Eemeren et al.1996:
16 The difference of opinion about the debate proposition presupposes a dif-
ference of opinion about at least one of the answers to the questions for-
mulated in tlle stock issues. This means that the negative side should offer a
negative response to those questions at least once; otherwise, there is no
difference of opinion.
17 In some rhetorical approaches - especially those that are in part inspired
by dialectics- the term thesis is also applied to refer to a proposition put
forward for the adherence of a public (see, forinstance, Perelman and Ol-
brechts-Tyteca 1969).
18 The definition of claim in Toulmin et al. 1979 does not meet iliis objection.
In that definition, the characteristics of claims also apply to the statements
by means of which data and warrants are advanced.
19 Explanations may, of course, be instrumental in the process of getting a
standpoint accepted. If, for instance, a listener does not exactly understand
what a standpoint is about (or what its implications are), he may a fortiori
be reluctantto accept it. An explanation may then serve the purpose of elu-
cidating the standpoint. Once it has been elucidated, it must still be in need
of defense. Otherwise it is, dialectically speaking, not a standpoint. By
themselves, explanations do therefore not point to a standpoint.
. ~ ~ .(' ~ f
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