English Language


Shiken premium Upgrade Banner

The Importance of Argumentation in Communication

Effective argumentation plays a critical role in both academic and professional settings as it is the primary mode of communication. It allows for the exchange of ideas and the ability to deconstruct and understand the arguments of others, making one's own claims more convincing.

The Definition of Argumentation in Rhetoric

While the word "argument" may often have negative connotations due to personal experiences in relationships, in the context of rhetoric, it has a different meaning. Rhetoric encompasses all the choices a communicator makes in persuading their intended audience. Every time we communicate, we have a purpose, and rhetoric is essential in achieving it. Rhetorical modes, such as cause and effect, narration, description, and illustration, offer different ways to structure communication.

Understanding Arguments in Rhetoric

In rhetoric, an argument is a way to present one or more reasons to convince an audience of the validity of a particular action or idea. It does not necessarily involve conflict, but rather a method of advocating for a specific viewpoint.

Types of Argumentative Techniques

Argumentative techniques can be divided into two categories: inductive and deductive reasoning. While deductive reasoning is more well-known, it is essential to understand both methods of presenting an argument.

Inductive Reasoning in Arguments

Inductive reasoning involves considering various factors and using them to form a general conclusion. These factors, also known as 'clues,' provide sufficient grounds to believe in the accuracy of the generalization. Inductive reasoning moves from specific details to a broader, more generalized conclusion.

For example, observing several hundred students wearing closed-toe shoes and only a few wearing sandals outside of a school may lead to the conclusion that students prefer closed-toe shoes.

Deductive Reasoning in Arguments

Deductive arguments begin with a general principle and use it to reach a specific logical conclusion. The premises of deductive reasoning guarantee, by necessity, the truth of the conclusion. Deductive reasoning moves from generalizations to specific conclusions.

For instance, if the general principle is that all dolphins are mammals, and all mammals give birth to live young, the specific conclusion is that dolphins give birth to live young. Although it is one of the most natural ways to present an argument, many people are not aware of deductive reasoning as it is used frequently.

The Structure of Arguments in Rhetoric

To develop a strong argument and effectively analyze other arguments, it is essential to understand its structure. A sound argument consists of two main elements: a conclusion or main claim and a premise.

For example, in the argument "Albert Einstein was human, so he was mortal," the premise is that Einstein was human and the conclusion is that he was mortal. In most academic arguments, the structure is more complex, with multiple premises supporting a conclusion that may not be immediately evident.

For instance, consider the following example:

  • The United States should close Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp
  • Keeping the detention camp open hurts America's standing in the international community
  • America is violating principles of international law by keeping the camp open
  • Violating international law makes America disregard the law, ultimately undermining America's reputation and making it difficult to be a leader in international affairs
  • The United States of America should not participate in anything that would seriously compromise its reputation in the international community
  • America should not do anything that would make it difficult to be a leader in international affairs

In this example, the first three premises support the conclusion that the United States should close the detention camp, while the last three reinforce the idea that America should not do anything that would harm its standing in the international community.

Understanding the Art of Argumentation: Evaluating Claims and Validity

When it comes to influencing international human rights policies, America's reputation should be a top priority. To maintain a positive image, it is crucial for America to prioritize strategies that will not make it more challenging to achieve this goal.

To effectively analyze an argument, the first step is to identify the main claim, also known as the conclusion. This statement serves as the central point of the argument and is often signaled by words such as "therefore," "so," "as a result," "consequently," and "thus." While the main claim is typically located at the beginning of the argument, it can sometimes be found elsewhere. It is essential to differentiate the main claim from supporting premises, which are reasons presented to reinforce the main claim. Some indicators of a premise include "since," "if," "because," and "for these reasons."

To analyze an argument successfully, it is crucial to ensure that the premises effectively support the main claim. However, this can be tricky as arguments are not always presented in a clear and organized manner. It is necessary to follow the line of reasoning in order to assess the validity of each point. Understanding the common types of arguments can be useful in this process.

Types of Argumentation

There are various strategies for argumentation, but they can generally be categorized into three main types based on the audience's needs and the approach used to persuade them.

Classical Argumentation

The classical argument model, also known as the Aristotelian method, is the most commonly used and well-understood type of argumentation in western culture. Developed by the Greek philosopher Aristotle, this model suggests that there are three ways to appeal to an audience: through pathos (emotions), logos (logic), or ethos (the author's credibility).

Using ethos, the speaker or writer relies on their own authority or knowledge to convince the audience to agree with their claim. For example, experts in the field of environmental studies, such as Frances Seymour and Nancy Harris, may be referenced to support the argument that tropical deforestation has devastating consequences.

Logos, on the other hand, relies on logical reasoning to persuade the audience. This is often used in academic writing and speaking, where sound logic is highly valued. For example, citing statistics and data, such as the rate of deforestation in Brazil in 2020, can effectively appeal to the audience's logical side.

Lastly, pathos appeals to the audience's emotions and can be a powerful force in convincing them to act or think a certain way. For instance, using emotive language to describe the impact of deforestation on innocent animals can elicit an emotional response in the audience and motivate them to take action.

Rogerian Argumentation

The Rogerian method of argumentation, introduced by psychologist Carl Rogers, aims to find a middle ground between two opposing sides of an argument. This approach is particularly effective when the two sides are highly polarized. As the presenter of the argument, it is essential to acknowledge the validity and shortcomings of both sides and then seek a compromise between them by identifying common ground.

While some may argue against homeschooling, claiming it is driven by fear or extreme beliefs, proponents argue that homeschooled children are well-educated and high-achieving due to the individualized attention they receive at home. Ultimately, the most crucial factor to consider in the homeschooling debate is the safety and educational support of the child, regardless of the adults involved.

The final method of argumentation is the Toulmin technique, developed by philosopher Stephen Toulmin. This approach focuses on gathering substantial evidence to support the conclusion of an argument. The Toulmin method is based on three fundamental components: the claim, the grounds, and the warrant.

The Three Essential Elements of Argumentation: The Claim, The Grounds, and The Warrant

Argumentation is the skill of constructing and presenting a logical and persuasive argument. It is a crucial ability in both academic and professional settings, as it teaches individuals to think critically, reason systematically, and evaluate conflicting claims.

When crafting a persuasive argument, three essential elements must be present: the claim, the grounds, and the warrant. The claim is the main argument or conclusion, while the grounds refer to the evidence and data supporting the claim. The warrant is the logical connection between the claim and the grounds.

For instance, a claim could be "schools should not offer soda in the cafeteria," with the grounds being "to protect student health." In this case, the warrant would be that soda contains excessive amounts of sugar, which can have negative health implications such as obesity, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. The warrant may be implied or explicitly stated in an argument, depending on the context and purpose.

The Benefits of Mastering Argumentation

Besides being a necessary skill for academic success, argumentation has real-life applications. It can improve one's ability to make persuasive claims, leading to better grades on essays and assignments. It also enhances critical thinking and rhetorical analysis skills, which are often evaluated in placement exams.

The Three Types of Argumentation: Classical, Toulmin, and Rogerian

There are three main types of argumentation: classical, Toulmin, and Rogerian. Classical argumentation relies on deductive reasoning, starting with a general premise and presenting specific evidence to support the conclusion. Toulmin argumentation uses a similar deductive approach, but with a focus on the claim, grounds, and warrant. Rogerian argumentation, on the other hand, emphasizes finding common ground and understanding opposing viewpoints to reach a mutual agreement.

Ultimately, mastering the art of argumentation can lead to more persuasive and effective communication, making it a valuable skill for success in both academic and professional contexts.

Rhetorical Argumentation Explained

One common form of argumentation is presenting a chosen author and convincing an audience of their strengths, providing reasons to support this selection. This mode of argumentation is known as rhetorical argumentation.

But what exactly does rhetorical argumentation mean?

Rhetorical argumentation involves using multiple reasons or justifications to persuade an audience of the truth or legitimacy of an idea or action. It requires critical thinking, logical reasoning, and persuasive communication to effectively convince others of a viewpoint or position.

So, whether you are writing an essay or participating in a debate, understanding the art of argumentation is essential for success and effective communication.

References: Frances Seymour and Nancy Harris, 'WRI Experts Offer Perspective on Tropical Deforestation in Science Journal,' World Resources Institute, 2021.

Join Shiken For FREE

Gumbo Study Buddy

Explore More Subject Explanations

Try Shiken Premium
for Free

14-day free trial. Cancel anytime.
Get Started
Join 20,000+ learners worldwide.
The first 14 days are on us
96% of learners report x2 faster learning
Free hands-on onboarding & support
Cancel Anytime