, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 115–126 | Cite as

Arguing Without Trying to Persuade? Elements for a Non-Persuasive Definition of Argumentation

  • Raphaël MicheliEmail author


If we consider the field of argumentation studies, we notice that many approaches consider argumentation in a pragmatic manner and define it as a verbal activity oriented towards the realization of a goal. The idea that subtends—in an explicit or implicit way—most of these approaches is that argumentation fundamentally aims to produce an effect upon an addressee, and that this effect consists in a change of attitude with respect to a viewpoint: argumentation theories inevitably confront the issue of persuasion. In this article, I defend, on the contrary, the hypothesis that it is not necessary to have recourse to the notion of persuasion, nor even to speak of an attempt to provoke a change of attitude in the addressee, in order to develop a general definition of argumentation. It seems to me that there are serious reasons to uncouple, insofar as a definition is concerned, argumentation and persuasion. I will look to identify these reasons, to formulate them and to evaluate their strength. In the same vein as recent works by Christian Plantin and Marc Angenot, I will try to contribute to the development of a non-persuasive conception of argumentation. Such a conception bases the definition of argumentation on the pragmatic aims of “justification” and “positioning”, as well as on the articulation of a discourse and a counter-discourse. I argue that such a conception might offer a better empirical adequacy than those that link, insofar as a definition, the argumentative activity and the persuasive aim.


Argumentation Counter-discourse Discourse Justification Positioning Persuasion 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Département de Français, Faculté des LettresUniversité de LausanneDorignySwitzerland

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