, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 725–750 | Cite as

On the Rational Resolvability of Deep Disagreement Through Meta-argumentation: A Resource Audit

  • David GoddenEmail author


Robert Fogelin argued that the efficacy of our acts of reasons-giving depends on the normalcy of our discourse—to the extent that discourse is not normal disagreements occurring in it are deep; and to the extent that disagreements are deep, they are not susceptible to rational resolution. Against this, Maurice Finocchiaro argues that meta-argumentation can contribute to the rational resolution of disagreements having depth. Drawing upon a competency view of reasons-giving, this article conducts an inventory and audit of meta-argumentation’s resolution resources for disagreements having depth. It concludes that, because Finocchiaro mischaracterizes the relationship between meta-argumentation and normalcy in the underlying discourse, he systematically overstates the rational resolution value of meta-argumentation. To the extent that meta-argumentation can contribute to the rational resolution of disagreements, those disagreements are normal, not deep. According to the competency view, the only way to resolve depth in disagreement is to first re-establish its normalcy.


Competency view of reasons-giving Deep disagreement Discursive normalcy Fogelin, Robert Meta-argumentation Practice of reasons-giving Rational resolution Space of reasons Wittgenstein, Ludwig 



This paper began as a commentary responding to Maurice Finocchiaro’s paper “Deep disagreements: A meta-argumentation approach,” presented to the 9th international conference of the Ontario Society for the Study of Argumentation (OSSA), Argumentation: Cognition & Community, May 18–21, 2011, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Both Finocchiaro’s paper and my commentary appear in the proceedings for that conference available in the OSSA Archive: A revised version of Finocchiaro’s OSSA paper appears as chapter 7 of his 2013 monograph Meta-argumentation: An approach to logic and argumentation theory. The present paper also draws upon my commentary for Chris Campolo’s paper “Argumentative virtues and deep disagreement,” presented to the 10th OSSA conference, Virtues of Argumentation, May 22–26, 2013, Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Again, the paper and its commentary appear in the conference proceedings available in the OSSA Archive. A revised version of Campolo’s OSSA paper appears as “On staying in character: Virtue and the possibility of deep disagreement” in Topoi (this issue). Thanks are due to the audiences of those presentations for their discussion, which was formative of this paper’s subsequence development, and to the anonymous referees for this paper. Special thanks are due to Ian Dove, Matt McKeon, and especially, Chris Campolo.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethics Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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