Handbook of Communication and Social Interaction Skills

By John O. Greene; Brant R. Burleson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 11
ARGUING SKILL
Dale Hample
Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL

Argument has been variously defined by different scholars, each having a slightly different end in mind (e.g., Brockriede & Ehninger, 1960; Hample, 1985a; Jackson & Jacobs, 1980; D. O'Keefe, 1977; Toulmin, 1958; van Eemeren & Grootendorst, 1984; Willard, 1976). Without intending it as a definition that competes in any way with others, here I wish to say that an argument is the face-to-face exchange of messages, especially those conveying reasons, in contemplation of actual or potential disagreement. This is a definition of convenience, designed to focus our attention on the interpersonal arguments that dominate our personal lives. Still, it might be useful to notice how this definition connects with what I think are the two discussions that remain in conceptual control of argumentation studies.

One of these is D. O'Keefe's (1977), in which he was at pains to distinguish two everyday senses of the word argument. The first of these is argument1 (normally oralized as “argument one”). This is the sense in which we say that a person makes an argument. Thus, an editorialist makes an argument1. Arguments1 tend to be textual, relatively objectifiable products that can be studied at length and are therefore convenient for textbooks on argumentation, logic, and informal logic. Prototypically, they are made by a single person working alone. Argument2 is the second sense of the word, and here it is natural to say that two people have an argument2, perhaps about what movie to see or whose turn it is to clean the kitchen. Arguments2 are as ephemeral and transient as any other interpersonal exchange and are normally studied only by means of transcription, recording, or some other kind of textualization process. Throughout this chapter, I mainly have interpersonal argument in mind and so most directly discuss argument2. Nonetheless, both argument1 and argument2 have some features in common, notably the use of reasons and those reasons' connections to conclusions, and so the scholarly traditions that concern themselves with stable argument products remain relevant.

O'Keefe's discussion has been extended by the suggestion that there is a third thing, argument0 (Hample, 1985a). Argument0 refers to the cognitive experience of arguing, the thinking that goes on for argument production and reception to occur. Thus, the cognitive contents that exist when a person mulls over what to say or puzzles over the meaning of another person's discourse are arguments0. Arguing skill is displayed

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