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Claudio Conforti

jueves, 3 de mayo de 2012

Giving ReasonsA Linguistic-Pragmatic Approach to Argumentation Bermejo-Luque, LilianTheory

Springer, Argumentation Library, Dordrecht, 2011,
volume 20, 209 pp
C. Andone

Bermejo-Luque’s book Giving Reasons has the ambition of developing a new
theoretical approach to argumentation that integrates logical, dialectical and
rhetorical aspects. The author uses speech act theory to realize her ideal of
‘a linguistic-pragmatic approach’ to argumentation. After a severe criticism of the
major existing approaches to the study of argumentation, the author develops what
she claims to be ‘‘a systematic and comprehensive theory of the interpretation,
analysis and evaluation of arguments.’’

Chapter 1, Argumentation and Its Study, aims at offering a critical survey of
classical backgrounds and modern studies in the field of argumentation theory. After
a swift introduction to the classical background in logic, dialectic and rhetoric,
Bermejo-Luque takes us directly to the recent developments in argumentation
studies. An enumeration of these new developments seems to suffice to draw the
conclusion that each current model has established itself within one of the classical
approaches. For instance, informal logic is a theory within the logical approach, the
new Rhetoric finds its place within the rhetorical approach, and the pragmadialectical theory within the dialectical approach.
Why Do We Need a New Theory of Argumentation? comes as a natural question
in the title of Chapter 2. Bermejo-Luque’s answer is as simple as radical. She argues
that all current theories have drawbacks and weaknesses making them unsuitable for
the analysis and evaluation of argumentation. Thus, some theories embrace a
deductivist ideal of justification which leaves aside the pragmatic conditions for

argumentation as an activity of giving reasons. Pragmatic proposals, in turn, are
dubbed instrumentalist, because they offer ‘‘criteria for deciding on the value of acts
of arguing as means for achieving certain goals, such as persuading a universal
audience or resolving a difference of opinion’’ (p. 23). Therefore, the author is of the
opinion that a new normative model of argumentation is needed that overcomes the
problems of the current approaches. The model should, according to BermejoLuque, be ‘‘characterizing what justification is, […] by thinking of justification as
the value that constitutes argumentation as an activity’’ (p. 18). It remains to be seen
in the following chapters what the author exactly means with this remark.
In Chapter 3, Acts of Arguing, the author first criticizes once more the pragmatic
approaches to argumentation by focusing this time on the pragma-dialectical theory.
Although this theory provides a normative framework for the analysis and
evaluation of argumentation by understanding argumentation as a speech act
complex, it is seen as defective in three respects: (a) it advocates that the
perlocutionary goal of argumentation is to convince, (b) it contends that ‘‘the claim
for which the speaker argues is not part of the act of arguing, but is another
illocutionary act linked to the sentences uttered in argumentation’’ (p. 59), and (c) it
regards argumentation as complex because ‘‘arguing can consist of more than one
sentence’’ (p. 59). To overcome these apparent problems, Bermejo-Luque proposes
a model in which argumentation is a second-order speech act complex composed of
the speech act of adducing and the speech act of concluding. These speech acts are
characterized as second order ‘‘because they can only be performed by means of a
first order speech act—namely, constative speech acts’’ (p. 60). The author’s model
consists in formulating conditions for putting forward a reason as an illocutionary
act (also referred to as adducing), for putting forward a target-claim as an
illocutionary act (also referred to as concluding), and for the complex illocutionary
act of arguing.
Chapter 4 concerns The Logical Dimension of Argumentation. Bermejo-Luque
emphasizes that previous criticisms of formal logic as a tool for evaluating natural
language argumentation are correct. She argues that Toulmin’s conception of logic
as a non-formal normative theory of inference is instead fruitful, but normatively it
is insufficient. Therefore, the author proposes that the data, the warrant, the rebuttal,
and the backing in Toulmin’s model be ‘completed’ by adding an ontological
qualifier, which is ‘‘an explicit reference to the type of force with which we put
forward a given propositional content in claiming’’ (p. 115). Moreover, BermejoLuque suggests that the conclusion be ‘completed’ with an epistemic qualifier,
which is ‘‘an explicit reference to the type of force with which we put forward a
claim in concluding it’’ (p. 115).
Chapter 5 moves to The Dialectical Dimension of Argumentation. BermejoLuque tries to give an account of the dialectical normative conditions of
argumentation by establishing whether argumentation fulfills certain dialectical
criteria. She argues that putting forward a reason for a claim involves dialectical
conditions that are ‘‘constitutively normative for argumentation as a justificatory
device and regulatively normative for argumentative as a persuasive device’’
(p. 121). What is one to make of this idea remains unclear.

As one might expect, in Chapter 6 The Rhetorical Dimension of Argumentation is
investigated. After disagreeing with the way in which informal logic, pragmadialectics and Tindale’s rhetorical model have integrated rhetorical aspects into
argumentation theory, Bermejo-Luque emphasizes that her normative model
integrates a rhetorical perspective in order to determine ‘‘how well a piece of
argumentation does at accomplishing justification’’ (p. 140). At the end of this
chapter, the author turns to non-verbal argumentation, which she finds important
because it has ‘‘rhetorical power to induce beliefs’’ (p. 163).
The final chapter, Chapter 7, deals with Argument Appraisal, which includes a
semantic appraisal of argumentation and a pragmatic appraisal of argumentation.
With regard to the semantic appraisal—a term which remains undefined—BermejoLuque deals with enthymeme and incomplete argumentation. With regard to the
pragmatic appraisal of argumentation—again undefined—she tries to show that
there is a kind of argumentative flaw which consists in a failure to meet the
pragmatic conditions for arguing. One such example is, according to BermejoLuque, the fallacy of the ad baculum which gives the appearance of argumentation
to a threat.

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