The Speech Acts of Arguing and Convincing in Externalized Discussions

  • Frans H. van EemerenEmail author
  • Rob Grootendorst
Part of the Argumentation Library book series (ARGA, volume 27)


In discussions directed towards solving a conflict of opinion the participants try to convince one another of the acceptability or unacceptability of the opinion that is under discussion. If the participants are co-operative, this means that they are prepared to externalize their position with regard to the opinion and to advance argumentation for or against it. In this article, which is a condensed translation of an article originally published in Dutch (van Eemeren and Grootendorst in Tijdschrift voor Taalbeheersing 2:271–310, 1980), the authors try to indicate, by reference to the speech act theory, what this entails. In the way in which it was originally conceived, the speech act theory is inadequate to characterize argumentation. In the authors’ view this objection can be met by regarding argumentation as an illocutionary act complex at a textual level. They formulate the conditions obtaining for a happy performance of this act complex and explain that for the speaker the performance is linked by convention to the perlocutionary act of convincing. In the case of an externalized discussion this means that with his argumentation the speaker tries to make the listener, in turn, perform an illocutionary act in which he expresses his acceptance of non-acceptance of the opinion.


Sincerity Condition Language User Argumentation Theory Sentence Level Preparatory Condition 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We are grateful to Else Barth, Dorothea Franck, Hartmut Haberland, Herman Parret and Daniel Vanderveken for their useful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Speech Communication, Argumentation Theory and Rhetoric, Faculty of HumantiesUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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