Norms of advocacy

Posted on 1 June 20


Goodwin, Jean. (2020). Norms of advocacy. In J.A. Blair & C. Tindale (Eds.), Rigour and Reason: Essays in Honour of Hans Vilhelm Hansen (pp. 111-142). Windsor, ONT: WIndsor Studies in Argumentation.

This essay follows Hansen in spirit, if not in letter, by defending argumentation theory as rightfully centered on argument assessment. Although advocacy is one of the paradigmatic activities within which arguments get made, many theorists have viewed it as having no norms: as being assessable only by its empirical effectiveness. But the ethical principles articulated within the advocacy professions of law and public relations show that advocates are not just out to persuade. Instead, they undertake obligations of vigor in making the case for their positions while also maintaining the integrity of the communication systems within which they operate. While not fully audience-regarding, these undertakings can benefit audiences by revealing the outer boundaries of the arguable. This account of the ordinary activity of advocating demonstrates that it is intrinsically normative, and that rhetoric conceived of as the art of advocacy has a place in a unified theory of argumentation.

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