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Argumentative Topoi for refutation and confirmation
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences. (Retorik)
2012 (English)In: Topical themes in argumentation theory: twenty exploratory studies / [ed] Frans H. van Eemeren, Bart Garssen, Springer Netherlands, 2012, 209-220 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Topos is an important concept both in rhetorical and dialectical forms of argumentation theories. In dialectical theories, topos often signifies a kind of argument scheme, divorced from the context. In rhetoric, topos is intimately connected with the invention of argument for specific contexts. Long lists of topoi therefore fill the rhetorical handbooks. These lists are heuristic guides helping students to learn a habit of thinking by which they will be able to creatively find arguments for the occasion. In the rhetorical tradition, the art of finding arguments for and against a position is taught in the twin rhetorical exercises refutation and confirmation. They belong to the progymnasmata, a set of preliminary exercises designed to teach students the art of rhetoric. Both refutation and confirmation are built around a set of topoi which function both as heuristic guides and as analytical tools. These topoi are ‘the clear’, ‘the persuasive’, ‘the possible’, ‘the logical’, ‘the appropriate’ and ‘the advantageous’. Each of these topoi is accompanied by its opposite so that the student will look both for the clear and the unclear, for the persuasive and the unpersuasive, for the possible and the impossible, the logical and the illogical, the appropriate and the inappropriate, the advantageous and the disadvantageous. The students begin by clarifying the issue and defining the terms. Secondly they look to the audience for whom the position would be persuasive. They continue to consider the physical world and its limitations. Fourthly, they consider the formal relationship between the propositions in the argument. Finally they consider the appropriate conventions in the rhetorical situation and the advantage for which the different participants argue. The method is critical as well as creative, actively engaging the possible objections from the opposing side. This is a sophistic method of teaching argumentation and it has been at the heart of the rhetorical tradition ever since antiquity. The article compares this rhetorical method of teaching argumentation to modern dialectical theories and claims that the rhetorical topoi are better for teaching argumentation to students than modern approaches to argumentation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Netherlands, 2012. 209-220 p.
Series
Argumentation Library, ISSN 1566-7650 ; 22
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
Rhetoric
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-11692DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-4041-9_14ISBN: 978-94-007-4041-9 (print)ISBN: 978-94-007-4040-2 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-11692DiVA: diva2:346602
Conference
7th Conference on Argumentation of the International Society for the Study of Argumentation (ISSA), Amsterdam, June 29 - July 2, 2010
Available from: 2010-09-01 Created: 2010-09-01 Last updated: 2017-10-18Bibliographically approved

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Eriksson, Anders

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