Argumentation in Suboptimal Settings

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When parties attempt to persuade their opponents of the tenability of a certain standpoint using reasons, they will often find that the circumstances of the dialogue hinder their chances of resolution. Power imbalances, cognitive biases, lack of time or hidden interests are some of the circumstances they need to face. I will label these circumstances as suboptimal settings for argumentation. According to the pragma-dialectical tradition, higher-order conditions for critical discussion are unfulfilled in these cases (van Eemeren, Grootendorst, Jacobs, & Jackson, 1993). The main question of this paper is the following: what is the normative standard that parties in a discussion need to follow to arrive at a resolution within such circumstances? I will defend a middle-ground solution between two extreme ones. The first extreme position, the anything-goes policy, claims that, given that the conditions for a reasonable exchange of reasons are not satisfied, the dialogue stands outside the domain of reason, so anything goes for the parties. The second extreme position, the business as usual policy, claims that, since critical discussion is a normative model, the same rules should apply in suboptimal settings. Finally, the supernormal policy that I defend claims that we need a more general and comprehensive norm that I refer to as a supernorm to evaluate these cases. The supernormal policy divides argumentation into two stages: preparation and resolution. In the preparation stage, the parties attempt to restore or compensate for the suboptimality of the setting, while in the resolution stage, they attempt to resolve their disagreement. I contend that the moves of the preparation stage should be evaluated by using the supernorm instead of by the rules for critical discussion (van Eemeren and Grootendorst 2004). At this point, the paper considers theoretical insights from Gilbert (1995, 1997, 2002) and Jacobs (2000, 2006) to understand what this entails.

Idioma originalInglés
Páginas (desde-hasta)393-414
Número de páginas22
EstadoPublicada - sept. 2022
Publicado de forma externa

Áreas temáticas de ASJC Scopus

  • Filosofía
  • Lingüística y lenguaje


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