Underlying Assumptions of Examining Argumentation Rhetorically

  • David ZarefskyEmail author


Argumentation is the offspring of logic, dialectic, and rhetoric. Differences among them are matters more of degree than of kind, but each reflects basic underlying assumptions. This essay explicates five key assumptions of rhetorical approaches to argumentation: (1) audience assent is the ultimate measure of an argument’s success or failure; (2) argumentation takes place within a context of uncertainty, both about the subject of the dispute and about the process for conducting the dispute; (3) arguers function as restrained partisans and accept risks that follow from such a status; (4) despite its seemingly adversarial nature, argumentation is fundamentally cooperative, pursuing the shared goal of making the best decision; and (5) argumentation is grounded in the situational context of particular cases.


Rhetorical argumentation Audience Persuasion Uncertainty Fallibility Restrained partisanship Cooperative argumentation Personal risk Situatedness Context 



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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Emeritus Professor, Communication Studies, School of CommunicationNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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