Chapter “The Philosophy of Argument” in The Cambridge Handbook of the Philosophy of Language

Jean Wagemans contributed a chapter titled “The Philosophy of Argument” to The Cambridge Handbook of the Philosophy of Language edited by Piotr Stalmaszczyk. The chapter is part of the project on the Philosophy of Argument.


Wagemans, J.H.M. (2021). The Philosophy of Argument. In P. Stalmaszczyk (Ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of the Philosophy of Language (pp. 571-589). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Abstract (adapted from Wagemans, 2021, p. 571)

The chapter provides an overview of the philosophy of argument. It describes the conceptual and systematic aspects of logic, dialectic, and rhetoric, and illustrates how the insights developed within these classical disciplines are reflected in approaches within the present-day field of argumentation theory. The overview starts with a general introduction into the philosophy of argument, elucidating its research questions and the characteristics of the main perspectives from which these questions are answered.

The next section discusses how philosophers of argument conceptualize argumentative discourse at large. It first focuses on dialectical taxonomies of dialogue types and communicative practices in which argumentation plays a central role. Subsequently, it presents the classical rhetorical theory of genres of speech.

The chapter continues with an exposition of the various ways in which the three perspectives conceptualize and categorize individual arguments. In particular, it describes logical classifications of inferences, dialectical taxonomies of argument schemes and fallacies, and the classical rhetorical theory about the means of persuasion.

The final section of the chapter outlines recent developments in the philosophy of argument. They concern proposals for extending the scope of the definition of argument, the rapidly growing research area of computational argumentation, and responses to societal problems related to the tension between truth and persuasion. The chapter is concluded with a short reflection on “digital argumentation” as the future shape of the philosophy of argument.