Argumentation is a crucial skill in life. People in the media, business, academia and politics constantly use argumentation styles to persuade viewers and opponents over to their side of an issue. There are many different aspects of argumentation and many different categories of argument styles. A person may adopt one style for logical argument and another style for rhetoric, for example.
The rhetorical side of argument consists of everything we do through voice tone, diction and body language to persuade people of the validity of a position. There are several different rhetorical styles that can be used in argumentation. A high-volume rhetorical style emphasizes the use of volume to dominate an argument, while a persistent argumentative style uses repetition of key questions and concepts. An antagonistic style of argument does not argue the point at hand but instead seeks to perpetuate argument by fueling any discussion with provocative statements.
The logical aspect of argument is the set of inference rules we use to arrive at logical conclusions. Inductive logic arrives at likely conclusions by counting up evidence, while deductive logic arrives at necessary conclusions by examining the logical meanings of statements. According to Purdue University English Profession Neil Gill, deductive arguments can be grouped into two categories: A Rogerian argument considers several viewpoints and selects the best one, whereas a Toulmin argument presents a single, linear argument (i.e., A therefore B) in support of a position.
Fallacious arguments are logical-seeming arguments that are not valid. Unlike logical arguments, fallacious arguments do not arrive at valid conclusions or inferences. There are literally dozens of fallacious arguments you can commit; a fallacious argument style is one that commits one or more fallacies frequently. For example, if a person in an argument persistently says, "the economy went up this year, therefore the party in power caused the economy to improve," that person is engaging in the "post hoc ergo propter hoc" fallacy, an invalid argument of the form "x happened, y happened, therefore x caused y."
Social Argumentation Styles
Argumentation can be looked at in terms of the way the interlocutors perceive each other. According to the textbook "Perspectives on Argument," a consensual style of argument sees interlocutors as working together and contributing ideas to reach a common goal, whereas an adversarial style of argument sees interlocutors as opponents who need to be made to look wrong. These styles of argument are neither strictly rhetorical nor logical; instead, they are defined by social dynamics between people in the argument.
- "Corrections"; A Quick Look at Three Logical Styles; Joe Bouchard; March 2011
- Purdue University; Styles of Argument; Neil Gill
- The Nikzor Project: Fallacies
- "Perspectives on Argument"; Developing Your Personal Argument Style; Nancy Wood; 1995
- University of Utah; More on Logic; Dr. Oakley Gordon; August 2007
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