Analogy, Supposition, and Transcendentality in Narrative Argument

  • Gilbert Plumer
Part of the Argumentation Library book series (ARGA, volume 31)


Rodden writes, “How do stories persuade us? How do they ‘move’—and move us? The short answer: by analogies.” Rodden’s claim is a natural first view, also held by others. This chapter considers the extent to which this view is true and helpful in understanding how fictional narratives, taken as wholes, may be argumentative, comparing it to the two principal (though not necessarily exclusive) alternatives that have been proposed: understanding fictional narratives as exhibiting the structure of suppositional argument, or the structure of a kind of transcendental argument. Three key aspects of understanding a fictional narrative as an argument from analogy are identified. First, the argument will be relativistic or depend in an essential way upon the circumstances or intentions of the auditor or author. Second, in view of the first aspect, the argument will be loose and subjective, and accordingly less likely to yield knowledge. Third, the argument will not exhibit a distinctive structure applicable only to fictional narratives. I find that the third, and sometimes the first and second, of these same three aspects apply to understanding fictional narratives as suppositional arguments. I present considerations that point to a way of establishing that some extended fictions exhibit the structure of a kind of transcendental argument that is neither relativistic nor subjective, is knowledge-generating, and is uniquely applicable to fictional narratives. This supports literary cognitivism—the thesis that “literary fiction can be a source of knowledge in a way that depends crucially on its being fictional.”


Human Nature Thought Experiment Analogical Argument Argument Structure Target Case 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Law School Admission Council (retired)NewtownUSA

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