What is Argumentation

The argument is a discursive process used to defend a position or demonstrate a proposition, through the exposition of reasoning.

Their objective it is to influence the person to whom it is addressed, so that they change their opinion and accept the position defended. It aims to reach a consensus through understanding.

For this, it is important that the author (or speaker) has recipients to address, that is, readers or listeners to whom to express their argument.

In addition, there needs to be a dialectic, a disparity of opinions that generates a reason for discussion, something to persuade the audience about.

The context of the argument it is the set of circumstances in which it develops. That is, the situation that fosters the argumentative process, the linguistic code used by the issuer, the judgments and opinions previously conceived by the receiver, etc.

Argumentation is commonly used in fields such as science, academia, politics or law, both in writing and orally.

Characteristics of the argument

  • The argument is based on dialectics, on the difference of opinions. If no one disagrees with the position defended, there is nothing to argue.
  • Within the argument different items: object of the argument, sender, receiver, arguments, framework or context, etc.
  • The argument has structure defined, composed of a thesis or position to defend, some arguments that support that position through premises that lead to a conclusion.
  • Argumentative discourse is characterized by being consistentthat is, the ideas it expresses are linked and maintain a logical relationship, they do not contradict each other.
  • To connect the different parts of speech, he uses linguistic resources as links, textual connectors and rhetorical figures.
  • The language in the argument fulfills a appellate functionthat is, the sender’s intention is to influence the receiver, modify his opinion.
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Types of argument

The argument can vary depending on its object or intention, its elements, its structure and its language. There are different types of argumentation that fit different scenarios.

Scientific or demonstrative argumentation

It is the type of argumentation used to defend and demonstrate new theories or discoveries within the scientific community.

Scientific or demonstrative argumentation is based on rational thought to develop irrefutable arguments, which are as solid as they are complex. Uses deductive arguments to reach true conclusions through true premises.

Probable or persuasive argumentation

It is the argumentation used to express ideas or opinions, as opposed to scientific demonstration.

This modality is applicable to less formal topics or discussions, the object of the argument, in this case, does not need logic or rational thought. The arguments used do not use knowledge, but probable or commonly accepted criteria.

Argumentation theory

Argumentation Theory studies the argumentative essence of language. It analyzes the language, from the pragmatic, semantic and structural point of view, and its argumentative nature.

Although this concept was already contemplated by Aristotle in his rhetoric, the Theory of Linguistic Argumentation was elaborated from the studies of authors such as Chaim Perelman, Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca, Stephen Toulmin, Jean-Claude Anscombre and Oswald Ducrot.

According to the Theory of argumentation, all sentences contain a meaning that leads to certain conclusions.

Aristotle already identified a series of topical on which the arguments are built and which are characterized by being generally accepted.

Topics establish relationships between a phrase and its meaning. They take into account aspects such as the statement itself, the attitude or intention of the sender, the preconceived judgments of the receiver, or the context in which the statement takes place.

By exampledoes not have the same semantic value “I’ll call you” that “I’ll call you on Thursday”although apparently they are similar statements.

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“I’ll call you” gives off a negative semantic value. Depending on the intonation used by the sender and the circumstances surrounding the sentence, the receiver may conclude that the call will never take place.

In “I’ll call you on Thursday” instead, a positive value is deduced. The receiver can perceive with greater security that on Thursday he will receive that call.

These differences are also perceptible in statements with a more argumentative character, such as the following example:

You should vote for Party X” versus “For the common good, let’s vote for Party X

In the first sentence, “You should vote for Party X“, an imposition emerges, it has little argumentative and a lot of imperative. In addition, little empathy is perceived on the part of the speaker, he does not maintain a close posture towards his audience.

For the common good, let’s vote for Party XInstead, he offers a reason in advance to vote for that party. The speaker includes himself in the speech as one more voter, he is close to his listeners, he encourages them to make a decision, but voluntarily, without excessive authority.


  • Anscombre, JC, & Ducrot, O. (1994). The Argumentation in the Language (J. Seville, M. Tordesillas, Trans.). Madrid: Editorial Gredos (Original work published 1983).
  • Perelman, C., & Olbrechts-Tyteca, L. (1989). treatise on argumentation. Ed. Gredos.

See also:

  • Plot
  • Argument types
  • Argumentative text