Edited by Cornelia Ilie and Giuliana Garzone
[Argumentation in Context 10] 2017
► pp. 21–38
Most contemporary argumentation theories stress the pragmatic and interactive aspects of argument. Some even claim that any argument takes place in a dialectical and/or dialogical context, based on a preliminary disagreement. Hence all arguments could be said to be controversial. I propose a revision of this view, based on a distinction between dialogical and dialectical, two terms often considered as synonymous. I suggest they do not entail each other and an agonistic connotation is associated only to dialectic. A second suggestion is that, unless you make it a postulate, an argument does not always presume a preliminary disagreement between individual arguers or communities. There are arguments which are not controversial. I admit that it is possible to imagine a virtual opponent to any standpoint but, in practice, sometimes nobody opposes our arguments. This may happen when someone puts forward strongly field or disciplinary dependent arguments in front of people who are beginners or outsiders with no opinion about the standpoint at stake. This may look like borderline cases, but this kind of situation is quite frequent in the media. Hence, in practice there are uncontroversial arguments and argumentation theories should take into account that the reach of argument goes beyond expert controversies and across unforeseen communities.