The Argumentative Structure of Persuasive Definitions

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, Vol. 11, No. 5, pp. 525-549, 2008

25 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2011  

Fabrizio Macagno

Universidade Nova de Lisboa

Douglas Walton

University of Windsor

Date Written: 2008

Abstract

In this paper we present an analysis of persuasive definition based on argumentation schemes. Using the medieval notion of differentia and the traditional approach to topics, we explain the persuasiveness of emotive terms in persuasive definitions by applying the argumentation schemes for argument from classification and argument from values. Persuasive definitions, we hold, are persuasive because their goal is to modify the emotive meaning denotation of a persuasive term in a way that contains an implicit argument from values. However, our theory is different from Stevenson’s, a positivistic view that sees emotive meaning as subjective, and defines it as a behavioral effect. Our proposal is to treat the persuasiveness produced by the use of emotive words and persuasive definitions as due to implicit arguments that an interlocutor may not be aware of. We use congruence theory to provide the linguistic framework for connecting a term with the function it is supposed to play in a text. Our account allows us to distinguish between conflicts of values and conflicts of classifications.

Keywords: Values, Emotive words, Persuasion, Approva, Condemnation, Argument from values, Definitions

Suggested Citation

Macagno, Fabrizio and Walton, Douglas, The Argumentative Structure of Persuasive Definitions (2008). Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, Vol. 11, No. 5, pp. 525-549, 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1744718

Fabrizio Macagno (Contact Author)

Universidade Nova de Lisboa ( email )

Av. Berna 26 I&D Building, office 4.02
Lisbon, 1069-061
Portugal

HOME PAGE: http://fabriziomacagno.altervista.org/

Douglas Walton

University of Windsor ( email )

401 Sunset Avenue
Windsor, Ontario N9B 3P4
Canada

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