Designing premises

Posted on 13 July 12


Goodwin, Jean. “Designing Premises.” In Argumentation in Practice, edited by Frans H. Van Eemeren and Peter Houtlosser. 99-114. Amsterdam: Walter Benjamins, 2005.

To argue together, people need to share starting-points (premises) which both are willing to say are adequate.  Otherwise, their argument might encounter an infinite regress:  they would find that they had to debate W in order to debate X, and debate V in order to debate W, and so on. But how do people who disagree–often deeply–manage to locate such premises?  In this paper, I lay out a normative pragmatic (a/k/a design) approach to this problem.  I outline the general problem and identify some practical means arguers have to force their opponents to recognize the adequacy of premises.

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