, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 243–263 | Cite as

Design Thinking in Argumentation Theory and Practice

  • Sally Jackson


This essay proposes a design perspective on argumentation, intended as complementary to empirical and critical scholarship. In any substantive domain, design can provide insights that differ from those provided by scientific or humanistic perspectives. For argumentation, the key advantage of a design perspective is the recognition that humanity’s natural capacity for reason and reasonableness can be extended through inventions that improve on unaided human intellect. Historically, these inventions have fallen into three broad classes: logical systems, scientific methods, and disputation frameworks. Behind each such invention is a specifiable “design hypothesis”: an idea about how to decrease error or how to increase the quality of outcomes from reasoning. As problems in contemporary argumentation practice become more complex, design thinking rises in relevance and importance. A design research agenda in argumentation would focus on theorizing design innovations (such as advanced patterns of argumentation) and on evaluating design hypotheses (such as proposals for how to incorporate expert opinion into public decision-making).


Design Pragma-dialectics Naturally occurring argumentation Deliberation Statistical reasoning 



Scott Jacobs and Mark Aakhus have contributed generously to the development of these ideas and to the argument as presented in this paper. Portions of the argument have been presented in different form at two conferences: “Between Citizens and Scientists,” sponsored by the Great Plains Society for the Study of Argumentation and held at Iowa State University in May, 2012, and “Empirical Approaches to Argumentation,” hosted in Paris by Le Laboratoire Communication et Politique in July, 2014.


  1. Aakhus, Mark. 1999. Science court: A case study in designing discourse to manage policy controversy. Knowledge, Technology and Policy 2(3): 20–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aakhus, Mark. 2007. Communication as design. Communication Monographs 74: 112–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aakhus, Mark, and Sally Jackson. 2005. Technology, design, and interaction. In Handbook of language and social interaction, ed. Kristine Fitch, and Robert E. Sanders, 411–436. Malwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  4. Bero, Lisa, and Drummond Rennie. 1995. The Cochrane collaboration: Preparing, maintaining, and disseminating systematic reviews of the effect of health care. Journal of the American Medical Association 274(24): 1935–1938.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Biro, John, and Harvey Siegel. 1992. Normativity, argumentation and an epistemic theory of fallacies. In Argument illuminated, ed. Frans H. van Eemeren, Rob Grootendorst, J. Anthony Blair and Charles A. Willard, 85–103. Amsterdam: International Centre for the Study of Argumentation.Google Scholar
  6. Borenstein, Michael, Larry V. Hedges, Julian P.T. Higgins, and Hannah R. Rothstein. 2009. Introduction to meta-analysis. Chichester: Wiley. doi: 10.1002/9780470743386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Craig, Robert T., and Karen Tracy. 1995. Grounded practical theory: The case of intellectual discussion. Communication Theory 5: 248–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Glass, Gene V. 1976. Primary, secondary, and meta-analysis of research. Educational Researcher 5: 3–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Goldman, Alvin I. 1997. Argumentation and interpersonal justification. Argumentation 11(2): 155–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Goldman, Alvin I. 1999. Knowledge in a social world. Oxford: Clarendon Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Goodwin, Jean. 2011. Accounting for the appeal to the authority of experts. Argumentation 25(3): 285–296. doi: 10.1007/s10503-011-9219-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Goodwin, Jean, and Lee Honeycutt. 2009. When science goes public: From technical arguments to appeals to authority. Studies in Communication Sciences 9(2): 19–30.Google Scholar
  13. Goody, Jack. 2000. The power of the written tradition. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.Google Scholar
  14. Goody, Jack, and Ian Watt. 1963. The consequences of literacy. Comparative Studies in Society and History 5(3): 304–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gutmann, Amy, and Dennis Thompson. 2009. Why deliberative democracy? Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Jackson, Sally. 1989. Method as argument. In Spheres of argument: Proceedings of the sixth SCA/AFA conference on argumentation, ed. Bruce E. Gronbeck, 1–8. Annandale, VA: Speech Communication Association.Google Scholar
  17. Jackson, Sally. 1992. “Virtual standpoints” and the pragmatics of conversational argument. In Argument illuminated, ed. Frans H. van Eemeren, Rob Grootendorst, J. Anthony Blair and Charles A. Willard, 260–269. Amsterdam: International Centre for the Study of Argumentation.Google Scholar
  18. Jackson, Sally. 1998. Disputation by design. Argumentation 12: 183–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jackson, Sally. 2008. Black box arguments. Argumentation 22: 437–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jackson, Sally. 2012. Black box arguments and accountability of experts to the public. In Between citizens and scientists: Proceedings of a conference at Iowa State University, ed. Jean Goodwin, 1–18. Ames, IA: Great Plains Society for the Study of Argumentation.Google Scholar
  21. Jackson, Sally. 2014. Deference, distrust, and delegation: Three design hypotheses. Paper presented at the conference of International Society for the Study of Argumentation, Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  22. Jackson, Sally, and Scott Jacobs. 1980. Structure of conversational argument: Pragmatic bases for the enthymeme. Quarterly Journal of Speech 66: 251–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jackson, Sally, and Scott Jacobs. 2006. Designing countermoves to questionable argumentative tactics. In Contemporary perspectives on argumentation: Views from the Venice argumentation conference, ed. Frans H. van Eemeren, Michael D. Hazen, Peter Houtlosser and David C. Williams, 83–100. Amsterdam: International Centre for the Study of Argumentation.Google Scholar
  24. Jacobs, Scott, and Mark Aakhus. 2002. What mediators do with words: Implementing three models of rational discussion in dispute mediation. Conflict Resolution Quarterly 20: 177–203. doi: 10.1002/crq.19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jacobs, Scott, and Sally Jackson. 1982. Conversational argument: A discourse analytic approach. In Advances in argumentation theory and research, ed. J. Robert Cox and Charles A. Willard, 205–237. Carbondale and Edwardsville, IL: So. Ill. U. Press.Google Scholar
  26. Jacobs, Scott, and Sally Jackson. 1983. Speech act structure in conversation: Rational aspects of pragmatic coherence. In Conversational coherence: Form, structure, and strategy, ed. Robert T. Craig, and Karen Tracy, 47–66. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  27. Jacobs, Scott, and Sally Jackson. 1989. Building a model of conversational argument. In Rethinking communication: Paradigm exemplars, ed. Brenda Dervin, Lawrence Grossberg, Barbara J. O’Keefe, and Ellen Wartella, 153–171. Beverly Hills/Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  28. Jacobs, Scott, and Sally Jackson. 1992. Relevance and digressions in argumentative discussion: A pragmatic approach. Argumentation 6: 161–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jacobs, Scott, Sally Jackson, Susan A. Stearns, and Barbara Hall. 1991. Digressions in third-party mediation of disputes: Multiple goals and standing concerns. In Understanding face-to-face interaction: Issues linking goals to discourse, ed. Karen Tracy, 43–61. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  30. Johnson, Ralph. 2000. Manifest rationality: A pragmatic theory of argument. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  31. Kneale, William, and Martha Kneale. 1962. The development of logic. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Krabbe, Erik C.W. 2008. Strategic maneuvering in mathematical proofs. Argumentation 22: 453–468. doi: 10.1007/s10503-008-9098-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Light, Richard J., and Paul Smith. 1971. Accumulating evidence: Procedures for resolving contradictions among different research studies. Harvard Educational Review 41: 429–471.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Nelson, Harold, and Erik Stolterman. 2012. The design way: Intentional change in an unpredictable world, 2nd ed. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  35. Rosenthal, Robert. 1979. The file drawer problem and tolerance for null results. Psychological Bulletin 86: 638–641.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Sacks, Harvey, Emmanuel A. Schegloff, and Gail Jefferson. 1974. A simplest systematics for the organization of turn-taking in conversation. Language 50: 696–735. doi: 10.2307/412243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Schegloff, Emmanuel A., Gail Jefferson, and Harvey Sacks. 1977. The preference for self-correction in the organization of repair in conversation. Language 53: 361–382. doi: 10.2307/413107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Snoeck Henkemans, A.F., and J.H.M. Wagemans. 2012. The reasonableness of argumentation from expert opinion in medical discussions: Institutional safeguards for the quality of shared decision making. In Between citizens and scientists: Proceedings of a conference at Iowa State University, ed. Jean Goodwin, 345–354. Ames, IA: Great Plains Society for the Study of Argumentation.Google Scholar
  39. Sprain, Leah, Martín Carcasson, and Andy J. Merolla. 2014. Utilizing “on tap” experts in deliberative forums: Implications for design. Journal of Applied Communication Research 42. doi: 10.1080/00909882.2013.859292.
  40. Sprain, Leah, Andy M. Merolla, and Martín Carcasson. (2012). Do experts help or hinder? An empirical examination of experts and expertise during public deliberation. In Between citizens and scientists: Proceedings of a conference at Iowa State University, ed. Jean Goodwin, 355–364. Ames, IA: Great Plains Society for the Study of Argumentation.Google Scholar
  41. van Eemeren, Frans H. 2010. Strategic maneuvering in argumentative discourse. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. van Eemeren, Frans H. 2012. The pragma-dialectical theory under discussion. Argumentation 26(4): 439–457. doi: 10.1007/s10503-012-9274-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. van Eemeren, Frans H., and Bart Garssen. 2013. In Virtues of argumentation: Proceedings of the 10th international conference of the ontario society for the study of argumentation, ed. Dima Mohammed and Marcin Lewiński. Windsor, ON: OSSA.Google Scholar
  44. van Eemeren, Frans H., and Rob Grootendorst. 1992. Argumentation, communication, and fallacies: A pragma-dialectical perspective. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  45. van Eemeren, Frans H., and Rob Grootendorst. 2004. A systematic theory of argumentation: The pragma-dialectical approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  46. van Eemeren, Frans H., Rob Grootendorst, Sally Jackson, and Scott Jacobs. 1993. Reconstructing argumentative discourse. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama.Google Scholar
  47. Walton, Douglas. 1997. Appeal to expert opinion: Arguments from authority. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Walton, Douglas. 2002. Legal argumentation and evidence. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Willard, Charles Arthur. 1990. Authority. Informal Logic 12(1): 11–22.Google Scholar
  50. Ziliak, Stephen T., and Deirdre N. McCloskey. 2008. The cult of statistical significance: How the standard error costs us jobs, justice, and lives. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA

Personalised recommendations