We explain what argumentation is, what it is for, how it differs from opinions and what its main characteristics are.
What is argumentation?
Argumentation is the art of expressing oneself verbally in favor or against a certain subject or position, using examples, reasoning and concrete propositions for the purpose of persuading or convincing.
Argumentation has been a topic of human interest since antiquity, especially in those areas of work that tend to social communication and the persuasion of the masses. Philosophers of the stature of Aristotle took care of it, and many schools of ancient philosophical thought distinguished themselves from their argumentative methods and logical customs.
An argument differs from an opinion in that the latter does not need to be supported with relevant reasons or information, while an argument does. The study of the theories of argumentation, thus, allows to discern the logical mechanisms through which conclusions are obtained from a premise.
Characteristics of argumentation
Every argument constitutes an attempt to convince one or several recipients of the veracity or convenience of a conclusion, obtained from one or a set of premises, through deductive or inductive processes of a logical, rational order.
Opinions are not arguments, founded or unfounded, nor feelings, nor premonitions; although all this can be used as a premise in a debate, for which they will serve as premises for further arguments.
Components of argumentation
The argumentation process comprises the following components:
Thesis. A main conclusion in favor or against which will be discussed.
Premises A set of propositions that allow to approach the thesis from a logical perspective.
Argument. The connection between the premises and the thesis, demonstrating the way in which the first leads to the second.
Debate. Logical and ordered opposition of arguments on the part of those who converse, defending or attacking the positions involved. You can give examples, establish hypotheses, comparisons, etc.
Conclusion. A new thesis obtained from the revision of the premises and the initial thesis. It may be the same or different from the latter.
Every debate will require the participation of several positions, defended and attacked by a series of arguments and propositions. During the confrontation of these reasons, it will be reviewed that they are valid, that they are credible, that they are convincing and correct, but also that there are no better ones holding the opposite position.
At the end of the debate, those involved will have reached a number of conclusions, and will be (or will not) agree on a common view on the subject, whether this is one of the two opposing or a third emerged in the debate.
The flaws or weaknesses of the arguments may lie in their fallacious character (if they are not true), implausible (if they are not credible), weakness (if they are easily flip-flops) or invalidity (if they are not relevant). In any case, the argument debate will consist of demonstrating the flaws of the contrary arguments and defending those of their own.
Argumentative context is called to the conditions that accompany the argumentative opposition, that is, to the conditions external to the debate but that also influence it, such as the culture of the debaters, the place, certain linguistic conventions, the pre-existing relationship between them, etc.
Types of argumentation
There are three types of argumentative discourse, namely:
Demonstration. Part of a premises in search of a conclusion, using deductive mechanisms for this. It is supposedly “objective”: the speaker does not enunciate himself, he talks about objective facts.
Argumentation. It approaches the thesis from causes and consequences, using an appropriate language for it.
Description. It tends to intermediate between demonstration and argumentation, since it describes the problem by laying the foundations of the debate.
One of the conditions for the argument involves the knowledge of the characteristics of the recipient of the argument, namely:
that the opponent does not share the argument but can do so,
that the adversary has the knowledge, the intelligence and the will to debate in good faith and to be able to be convinced.
Without this condition of ownership, it is impossible (or sterile) to engage in a debate.
The other condition for the argumental exercise implies that the adversary may or may not be convinced of the legitimacy of the arguments that we make, and for this there are possible legitimatory mechanisms, such as:
The appointment, in which one goes to the words of another to validate one’s reasoning.
The concrete examples, as factual situations that prove the validity of the reasoning.
Without this condition of legitimacy, any debate is futile, because the opposing arguments are rejected a priori.
The debate is also called “negotiation”, a preferable term to allow the emergence of a third position, and not the imposition of one of the two confronted. In fact, understood as such, the negotiators are those capable of conducting the confrontation argument towards conciliatory grounds, to find a conclusion or joint resolution.
The term fallacy refers to an argument that seems to be valid and correct, but it is not. It is commonly used as a synonym for deception, although it is not necessarily so: many logical fallacies are actually faulty reasoning, logical flaws, which should not necessarily be at the service of manipulation and lying.