Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Karen Tracy

Second Advisor

David Boromisza-Habashi

Third Advisor

Robert T. Craig


Argumentation theory, as a field, has moved over time from the abstractions of formal logic to a growingly direct concern for more pragmatic ways of thinking about matters that it has traditionally taken up (such as reasoning, rules of argument, fallacies, etc.). An overview of this trajectory in which the field has been traveling suggests that language pragmatics will take on an increasing importance. In anticipation of language pragmatics' growing importance, this study reviews it as it relates to current interests in argumentation theory. The pragma-dialectical approach, which has made major contributions to the field of argumentation theory and already pushes toward language pragmatics (along with `conversational argument' work), is explicated and critiqued. The study calls upon argumentation scholars to re-envision their work as becoming less a matter of argumentation theory, and more a matter of `argument pragmatics.' The re-envisioned field of argument pragmatics is tentatively outlined in terms of its general theoretical and methodological posture, its role in describing, explaining, and improving argumentative practice(s), and its theoretical significance with regards to some concerns that are (and have long been) central to argument studies. This discussion is supported and facilitated by use of data samples taken from a specific case of appellate advocacy.

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