, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 397–423 | Cite as

Argument Structure and Disciplinary Perspective

  • James B. Freeman


Many in the informal logic tradition distinguish convergent from linked argument structure. The pragma-dialectical tradition distinguishes multiple from co-ordinatively compound argumentation. Although these two distinctions may appear to coincide, constituting only a terminological difference, we argue that they are distinct, indeed expressing different disciplinary perspectives on argumentation. From a logical point of view, where the primary evaluative issue concerns sufficient strength of support, the unit of analysis is the individual argument, the particular premises put forward to support a given conclusion. Structure is internal to this unit. From a dialectical point of view, where the focus concerns how well a critical discussion comes to a reasoned conclusion of some disputed question, the argumentation need not constitute a single unit of argument. The unit of dialectical analysis will be the entire argumentation made up of these several arguments. The multiple/co-ordinatively compound distinction is dialectical, while the linked/convergent distinction is logical. Keeping these two pairs of distinctions separate allows us to see certain attempts to characterize convergent versus linked arguments as rather characterizing multiple versus co-ordinatively compound arguments, in particular attempts of Thomas, Nolt, and Yanal, and to resolve straightforwardly conflicts, tensions, or anomalies in their accounts. Walton's preferred Suspension/Insufficient Proof test to identify linked argument structure correctly identifies co-ordinatively compound structure. His objection to using the concept of relevance to explicate the distinction between linked and convergent structure within co-ordinatively compound argumentation can be met through explicating relevance in terms of inference licenses. His counterexample to the Suspension/No Support test for identifying linked structure which this approach supports can itself be straightforwardly dealt with when the test is explicated through inference licenses.

Linked, convergent argument structure multiple, co-ordinatively compound argumentation logical, dialectical analysis conclusive relevance inference rule 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Copi, Irving M. and Carl Cohen: 1990, Introduction to Logic, 8th edition, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York.Google Scholar
  2. Eemeren, Frans H. van and Rob Grootendorst: 1984, Speech Acts in Argumentative Discussions, Foris Publications, Dordrecht-Holland/Cinnaminson-USA.Google Scholar
  3. Eemeren, Frans H. van and Rob Grootendorst: 1992, Argumentation, Communication, and Fallacies: A Pragma-Dialectical Perspective, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, Hillsdale, NJ.Google Scholar
  4. Freeman, James B.: 1991, Dialectics and the Macrostructure of Arguments: A Theory of Argument Structure, Foris Publications, Berlin-Germany/New York-USA.Google Scholar
  5. Freeman, James B.: 1992, 'Relevance, Warrants, Backing, Inductive Support', Argumentation 6, 219–235.Google Scholar
  6. Govier, Trudy: 1985, A Practical Study of Argument, Wadsworth Publishing Company, Belmont, CA.Google Scholar
  7. Nolt, J. E.: 1984, Informal Logic: Possible Worlds and Imagination, McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York.Google Scholar
  8. Pinto, Robert C.: 1994, 'Review of A.F. Snoeck Henkemans, Analysing Complex Argumentation', Argumentation 8, 314–318.Google Scholar
  9. Snoeck Henkemans, A. F.: 1992, Analysing Complex Argumentation, SICSAT, Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  10. Thomas, Stephen N.: 1986, Practical Reasoning in Natural Language 3e, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.Google Scholar
  11. Toulmin, Stephen: 1958, The Uses of Argument, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  12. Walton, Douglas: 1996, Argument Structure: A Pragmatic Theory, University of Toronto Press, Toronto.Google Scholar
  13. Yanal, Robert J.: 1991, 'Dependent and Independent Reasons', Informal Logic 13, 137–144.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • James B. Freeman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyHunter College of The City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations