pp 1–14 | Cite as

Argumentative Discussion: The Rationality of What?

  • Marcin LewińskiEmail author


Most dialectical models view argumentation as a process of critically testing a standpoint. Further, they assume that what we critically test can be analytically reduced to (1) individual and (2) bi-polar standpoints. I argue that these two assumptions lead to the dominant view of dialectics as a bi-partisan argumentative discussion in which the yes-side (proponent) argues against the doubter or the no-side (opponent). I scrutinise this binary orientation in understanding argumentation by drawing on the main tenets of normative pragmatic and pragma-dialectical theories of argumentation. I develop my argument by showing how argumentative practice challenges these assumptions. I then lay out theoretical reasons for this challenge. This paves the way for an enhanced conceptualisation of dialectical models and their standards of rationality in terms of multi-party discussions, or argumentative polylogues.


Argumentation Diairesis Dialectics Normative pragmatics Polylogue Pragma-dialectics Quine 



I would like to thank Mark Aakhus, Dima Mohammed, David Godden and two anonymous reviewers for, let us hope, rational polylogical discussion over earlier drafts of this paper. Work on the paper was supported by two Grants of the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT): SFRH/BPD/74541/2010 and PTDC/MHC-FIL/0521/2014.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ArgLab, Institute of Philosophy (IFILNOVA), FCSHUniversidade Nova de LisboaLisbonPortugal

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