In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Argumentation

  • Introduction
  • Textbooks
  • Anthologies
  • Journals
  • Conferences
  • Defining Argument
  • Fallacies
  • Multimodal Argument
  • Domains of Argument
  • Public Sphere
  • Argument and Style
  • Argument and Emotion
  • Presumption and Burden of Proof

Communication Argumentation
Beth Innocenti
  • LAST REVIEWED: 22 May 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 March 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0013


Two broad divisions characterize orientations to studies of argumentation by communication scholars and scholars in other disciplines. First, communication scholars perform descriptive and normative studies of argumentation, as well as studies that attempt to integrate these two perspectives. Descriptive studies typically employ qualitative and social-scientific research methods and may analyze argumentation both in laboratory and real-world settings. Normative studies typically employ humanistic research methods and frequently analyze argumentation in the public sphere. Second, scholars may view argumentation as more of an epistemological activity—one that generates knowledge or justifies belief—or as more of a practical activity that is designed to achieve a variety of outcomes such as persuasion, consideration of a proposal, or acceptance of a premise. Various basic questions are addressed by argumentation research: How should we define “argumentation”? How should we analyze it? How should we evaluate it?


Textbooks typically feature the production, presentation, analysis, and evaluation of arguments. Authors’ treatment of these topics is shaped by their theoretical perspective. Working from a pragma-dialectical perspective, van Eemeren, et al. 2002 coaches students in conducting a critical discussion designed to resolve a difference of opinion. Coming out of a speech communication tradition, Inch and Warnick 2010 and Schiappa and Nordin 2014 are oriented toward debate and use examples from public discourse. Freeley and Steinberg 2014 is squarely in the tradition of academic debate in the United States, and Govier 2005 and Johnson and Blair 2006 come to argumentation from informal logic. Trudy Govier focuses more on argument schemes such as generalizations and analogies, and Ralph Johnson and J. Anthony Blair include a detailed discussion of fallacies. Gilbert 2014 supplements an informal-logic perspective with a rhetorical perspective. Herrick 2007 (in detail) and Weston 2000 (more synoptically) cover argument schemes and fallacies as well, although their discussions are oriented toward presentation to situated audiences and so are more rhetorical.

  • Freeley, Austin J., and David L. Steinberg. 2014. Argumentation and debate: Critical thinking for reasoned decision making. 13th ed. Boston: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.

    Oriented toward debate. Organized around debate activities such as foundations of debate, critical thinking, propositions, and gathering and testing evidence. Includes exercises and appendixes such as debate propositions and bibliography. Good for novices, advanced undergraduates, and those interested in the history and teaching of academic debate in the United States.

  • Gilbert, Michael A. 2014. Arguing with people. Peterborough, ON: Broadview.

    Designed to be a supplement to textbooks on critical thinking by focusing on arguments with people rather than arguments on paper or a screen. Oriented toward conversational, interpersonal arguments and the model of coalescent argumentation in Gilbert 1997 (cited under Multimodal Argument). Good for novices.

  • Govier, Trudy. 2005. A practical study of argument. 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

    Oriented more toward critiquing than practicing argumentation. Covers what arguments are and how to analyze and evaluate them. Treats in detail specific kinds of deductive and inductive arguments, including categorical and propositional logic, causal reasoning, and analogies. Cites argumentation research and includes exercises. Better for advanced undergraduates than novices.

  • Herrick, James A. 2007. Argumentation: Understanding and shaping arguments. 3d ed. State College, PA: Strata.

    Oriented more toward critiquing than practicing argumentation but includes a section on developing a case and adapting to audiences. Covers what argumentation is and conditions for good ones, as well as analysis and evaluation of different argument types, including categorical, definitional, analogies and examples, causal reasoning, and fallacies. Includes exercises.

  • Inch, Edward S., and Barbara Warnick. 2010. Critical thinking and communication: The use of reason in argument. 6th ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

    Oriented more toward debate. Organized around defining argument and its contexts, different kinds of claims and propositions, different kinds of evidence, and arguing about values and about policies. Attempts to balance criticizing and producing arguments. Better for advanced undergraduates than novices.

  • Johnson, Ralph H., and J. Anthony Blair. 2006. Logical self-defense. New York: International Debate Education Association.

    Organized around the basics of identifying, analyzing, evaluating, and producing arguments; fallacies; argumentation and mass media; and advanced analysis and production of arguments. Good introduction for novices.

  • Schiappa, Edward, and John P. Nordin. 2014. Argumentation: Keeping faith with reason. Boston: Pearson.

    Organized around identifying, analyzing, developing, and supporting and defending arguments; includes forms of reasoning, problems, and examples. Designed for novices.

  • van Eemeren, Frans H., Rob Grootendorst, and A. Francisca Snoeck Henkemans. 2002. Argumentation: Analysis, evaluation, presentation. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Organized around analysis, evaluation, and presentation of arguments from a pragma-dialectical perspective. Explains analyzing arguments as critical discussions—procedures for resolving a difference of opinion. Defines fallacies as violations of rules for critical discussions. Presentation covers oral and written arguments. Includes exercises and further reading, mostly in pragma-dialectical theory.

  • Weston, Anthony. 2000. A rulebook of arguments. 3d ed. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett.

    In about a hundred pages, covers different kinds of arguments and rules for evaluating them, including example, analogy, authority, cause, and deductive forms; researching, outlining, and writing an argumentative essay; and fallacies. Includes many examples. Ideal for beginners and as a quick reference.

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