Analyzing Arguments

Analyzing Arguments
What is an argument?
• “the claims that people make when
they are asserting their opinions
and/or supporting their beliefs.”
(Hollihan and Baaske)
• “. . . putting forth a claim, evidence,
and reasoning.” (Verlinden)
Other definitions:
• Reason: “a statement intended to
establish a claim.” (Herrick)
• Conclusion: “a statement
accompanied by supporting reasons.”
• Claim: “a statement that does not
stand alone without further proof, a
conclusion the audience will not
accept without verification.”(Rybacki)
Decision making
• Intrapersonal-rational arguments
with ourselves.
• Interpersonal-rational arguments
with others.
• Group-rational arguments used
within a team setting.
Reasons we make
• To justify our position on a topic.
• To seek to persuade someone.
• As a means of discovery, inquiry, and
The Narrative paradigm
• Developed by Walter Fisher
• Main premise is that “people
reason through narratives”
• Fisher believes that “people are
essentially storytellers.”
• We make decisions on the basis of
“good reasons.”
• History, biography, culture, and
character determine what we
consider good reasons.
• Narrative rationality is determined by
the coherence and fidelity of our
• The world is a set of stories from
which we choose, and thus
constantly re-create our lives.
• People come to understand their
world and their values through
• We will seek out stories that fit our
interests and disregard those that
don’t make sense to us.
• If the story holds together (cohesive)
we accept it as reality.
Arguer Orientations:
• Wayne Brockriede
published an article
in the 1970’s called
“Arguers as
• He proposed that
arguer orientations
can be framed as
“rapist”, “seducer”,
or “lovers”.
The arguer as “Rapist”
• Depersonalizes the other.
• Relies on verbal aggressiveness.
(name calling, ad hominems, etc . . )
• Uses force, authority, sanctions.
• Employs threats, ultimatums.
• An example: poor litigants vs. large
The Arguer as “Seducer”
• Relies on harm, beguilement,
• Creates an illusion of choice.
• Utilizes ingratiation strategies.
• Resorts to deception.
• Employs illicit reasoning (false
reasoning, withholding evidence,
“Rapists” and “Seducers” as
• Displays disregard for the other person.
• Views other as an “object” or “target”
rather than as a person.
• Emphasizes success, de-emphasizes
• Unwilling to expose oneself to the risk of
• Adopts only one perspective on a issue—
one’s own.
Arguers as “Lovers”
• Regards other as an equal, stresses power
• Values the relationship as much as (if
not more than) the outcome of decision.
• Emphasizes cooperation and
collaboration over competition.
• Values shared decision making, choice
• Willing to risk values, knowledge, and selfesteem by engaging in argument.
• The categories aren’t mutually
exclusive, they are a matter of
• The categories are situational and
• A person can change his or her
orientation to arguing.