The argumentative structure of persuasive definitions

Fabrizio Macagno, Douglas Walton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In this paper we present an analysis of persuasive definition based on argumentation schemes. Using the medieval notion of differentia and the traditional approach to topics, we explain the persuasiveness of emotive terms in persuasive definitions by applying the argumentation schemes for argument from classification and argument from values. Persuasive definitions, we hold, are persuasive because their goal is to modify the emotive meaning denotation of a persuasive term in a way that contains an implicit argument from values. However, our theory is different from Stevenson's, a positivistic view that sees emotive meaning as subjective, and defines it as a behavioral effect. Our proposal is to treat the persuasiveness produced by the use of emotive words and persuasive definitions as due to implicit arguments that an interlocutor may not be aware of. We use congruence theory to provide the linguistic framework for connecting a term with the function it is supposed to play in a text. Our account allows us to distinguish between conflicts of values and conflicts of classifications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)525-549
Number of pages25
JournalEthical Theory and Moral Practice
Volume11
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008

Keywords

  • Approval
  • Argument from values
  • Condemnation
  • Definitions
  • Emotive words
  • Persuasion
  • Values

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