Underlying Assumptions of Examining Argumentation Rhetorically

David Zarefsky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Argumentation is the offspring of logic, dialectic, and rhetoric. Differences among them are matters more of degree than of kind, but each reflects basic underlying assumptions. This essay explicates five key assumptions of rhetorical approaches to argumentation: (1) audience assent is the ultimate measure of an argument’s success or failure; (2) argumentation takes place within a context of uncertainty, both about the subject of the dispute and about the process for conducting the dispute; (3) arguers function as restrained partisans and accept risks that follow from such a status; (4) despite its seemingly adversarial nature, argumentation is fundamentally cooperative, pursuing the shared goal of making the best decision; and (5) argumentation is grounded in the situational context of particular cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRhetoricians on Argumentation
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9783031188022
ISBN (Print)9783031188015
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022


  • Audience
  • Context
  • Cooperative argumentation
  • Fallibility
  • Personal risk
  • Persuasion
  • Restrained partisanship
  • Rhetorical argumentation
  • Situatedness
  • Uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Psychology


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