Knowledge Claims in Rhetorical Criticism

David Zarefsky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This essay examines the function of argumentation in making and defending critical judgments. When claims cannot be verified empirically, and yet we wish for them to be justified rather than arbitrary or whimsical, argumentation is the method employed. The goal is to convince critical listeners that what are offered as reasons for a claim do count as reasons, making the claim more acceptable. Although the specific focus is on rhetorical criticism, the essay applies to critical claims more generally. This essay originally was published in the Journal of Communication, 58 (December, 2008), 629–640, as part of a symposium about how different methods of inquiry can enrich and benefit from one another.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationArgumentation Library
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 2014

Publication series

NameArgumentation Library
ISSN (Print)1566-7650
ISSN (Electronic)2215-1907


  • Definition of the situation
  • Framing
  • Rhetoric as epistemic
  • Rhetorical criticism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law
  • Philosophy
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Language and Linguistics


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