The pragmatic force of making an argument

Posted on 1 October 19


Goodwin, Jean, & Innocenti, Beth (2019). The pragmatic force of making an argument. Topoi 4, 669–680.

Making arguments makes reasons apparent. Sometimes those reasons may affect audiences’ relationships to claims (e.g., accept, adhere). But an over-emphasis on audience effects encouraged by functionalist theories of argumentation distracts attention from other things that making arguments can accomplish. We advance the normative pragmatic program on argumentation through two case studies of how early advocates for women’s suffrage in the U.S. made reasons apparent in order to show that what they were doing wasn’t ridiculous. While it might be possible to identify this as a new function of argumentation, we encourage instead attention to a more important question: explaining how all the diverse uses of argument have pragmatic force.

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