Theory of argumentation: concept, definition, types and key components

Without a doubt, everyone knows what the arguments are, moreover, they use them repeatedly and daily. However, not everyone knows that there is a separate concept called “argumentation”.

It has its own theory, numbering several directions or varieties, components. Of course, this theory includes the scientific definition of the concept of “argumentation”.

What is this theory? Definition

The theory of argumentation is nothing more than a disciplinary scientific study regarding the effectiveness of thematic communication. In other words, this theory parses and clarifies exactly what conclusions can be reached by proceeding through communication consisting of a series of reasonings subordinate to logic. That is, research theory affects the entire path of dialogue, starting from the premises and ending with conclusions and results.

Accordingly, the theory of argumentation is applicable to all spheres of life in which there is communication, containing not just the exchange of information, but claims that have logical reasons, prerequisites. That is, it is necessary for those who comprehend the art of dialogue, debate, and conversation in order to convince themselves of something.

Where does this theory apply?

In fact, the logic and theory of argumentation is present to one degree or another in every conversation in which a goal is pursued. An ordinary everyday dialogue in which one family member convinces the other of the need to take out the trash and go to the store for groceries or make a small tourist trip on the weekend, and the other does not agree with what he heard, this is a good example of the practical application of this theory. In order to achieve the desired goal, the person who started the conversation, logically reasoning and using arguments. His opponent, in turn, also voices the arguments, but already in favor of his position.

Pondering arguments

Accordingly, the areas of practical use of argumentation are:

  • dialogues;
  • debate;
  • communication seller and buyer, customer and contractor;
  • conversation;
  • disputes and other components of human communication, components.

But these are not the only areas of life in which arguments are needed. For example, theories of legal argumentation are applied in legal proceedings, in filing lawsuits or documentation. They are especially important when transferring criminal cases and civil claims relating to material claims to legal proceedings.

Key components of this theory

The fundamentals of the theory of argumentation, or its key points, are as follows:

  • identification of the goals of opponents;
  • determination and refutation of counter-arguments;
  • understanding of the premises, the origin of the opposite point of view;
  • finding and providing justifications for their own claims.

In addition to these simple postulates characteristic of any equal discussion, the theory also involves specific concepts. There are only two of them, the generic name is “burden”. The burden is divided into a couple of types:

  • evidence;
  • objections.

These are the key points involved in any practical application of the theory. For example, almost every person had to deal with advertising of any services by telephone, carried out by means of a direct conversation with the operator. As a rule, various cosmetology rooms, medical and health centers resort to this method of familiarizing the population with their activities.

Before discussing work issues

Listening to the operator and communicating with him, few people thought about how the conversation is built. And it is built on the principle of "fighting objections." Usually, for every argument brought by a potential visitor, there is a counter-argument, starting with an expression of understanding of the interlocutor’s position or even agreement with her. The same methods of conducting conversation at special trainings are taught by managers, sellers, insurance agents and representatives of other similar professions. The basis of such trainings are the logical foundations of the theory of argumentation.

What is the “burden of proof”?

In every conversation that pursues specific goals, in a discussion in which people seek to convince others of their rightness or to achieve something from their opponents, there is always an initiator of dialogue and the one who simply entered into it supported communication.

Thus, establishing the burden of proof is nothing more than finding out who is responsible for starting and, therefore, leading the discussion. This person during the dialogue provides opponents with evidence of their own rightness, convinces them of something.

What is the “burden of objection”?

The burden of objection in any dialogue is created by the refutation of argument-proof. That is, the person who supported the discussion, entered into a polemic, and did not start it, is responsible for this burden.

Evidence and objection

The task of the objection bearing the burden is to detect logical inconsistencies, to find "weak" places in the evidence and, accordingly, their refutation. Moreover, the cited counterarguments or objections must be sustained in the same vein as the voiced evidence, and relate to the topic of the conversation.

About structure

The theory and practice of argumentation are characterized by the same structural structure as any dispute, discussion, controversy, debate and other, similar types of communication.

The main points in this structural structure are considered to be the following points:

  • stage of abstracts becoming a topic for discussion;
  • bringing arguments, deriving logical chains of reasoning;
  • achieving a result, ending a conversation.

These items have brief structural names:

  • abstracts;
  • arguments
  • demonstration.

All of them are necessarily present in any dialogue pursuing any goals, regardless of what topic or sphere of life it concerns.

On the origin of the theory

The theory of argumentation begins in philosophy, namely, fundamentalism and epistemology. It arose thanks to the aspirations of scientists to derive and justify the laws in the formulation of claims, the conduct of polemics. The desire to determine the actual, objective laws of logic, to which the system of knowledge and communication as a whole obeys, played a role.

Initially, the theory was based on the principles deduced by Aristotle, that is, systematic philosophy. They were supplemented by more idealistic postulates of Plato, Kant and others.

However, the views of modern scientists are largely at odds with the primary principles of argumentation. In the modern world, the thesis that formal argumentation should be a prerequisite for argument and its validity is not an axiom.

About varieties of argumentation

Due to its specificity, the theory of argumentation admits an infinite number of its varieties. However, only a few basic, title species stand out.

Public discussion

The argument may be:

  • conversational;
  • general scientific;
  • mathematical;
  • political;
  • explanatory;
  • legal.

The essence of each variety is clear from its name. For example, everything related to legal proceedings, investigative or other legal actions, disputes refers to the theory of legal argumentation. When speaking in court, the lawyer, like the prosecutor, presents legally sound, legal arguments in favor of their positions. Each of these statements, evidence and objections, of course, is carefully recorded, in other words, documented. Each oral objection or evidence in a legal dispute is also recorded - it is accompanied by a corresponding note.


Without a doubt, conversational, explanatory and political differs from the model of the theory of legal argumentation. But in scientific discussions, there is a great resemblance to the structure of the legal model.

What do psychologists think?

Unlike philosophy, psychology does not deal with logical arguments, but with their opposite. That is, psychologists are interested in measures of influence on opponents that do not have the prerequisites and logical justification.

For example, in psychology, the arguments include a simple repetition of a thought or idea, excluding the entry into discussion and not implying interaction with the mind, the opponent’s thinking. It is this type of argument used in propaganda and advertising, brand building, promotion of "stars".

Discussion of issues

In connection with the high efficiency and wide range of applications of such methods of exposure, the belief arose that they are more effective than the classical argument. In fact, the theory of argumentation involving logic and direct contact with the opponent does not at all oppose psychological methods. Each of them has its own field of application in which they are most effective.

For example, it is impossible to achieve a result in a legal dispute by simply repeating the wording of one’s own position. In the same way, it is not possible to make a person's face recognizable only by broadcasting discussions with his participation.

How to build an argument?

Of course, everyone who is interested in the practical application of the theory of argumentation is curious to know what patterns obey evidence and objection.

A well-composed argument includes three required components and the same number of additional ones. The following are mandatory:

  • statement;
  • data;
  • grounds.

An affirmation is the main idea that a person advocates in a polemic, his position on any issue or a claim to an opponent. For example, in an ordinary family dispute, phrases may appear as statements: “Go to the store”; “Need new curtains”; "Wash the dishes" and others. At the same time, on the part of the one who supports the conversation, that is, bears the burden of objection at the beginning of the discussion, the statement also sounds. An example of such statements: “I can’t go to the store”; “No need to change curtains”; "I will not wash the dishes."

Next, the data exchange stage begins. Each of the parties gives some facts, examples in favor of their thoughts, explaining to the interlocutor its truth and correctness. Usually in a conversation, they refer to something. For example, a person explains the need to go to the store due to lack of bread. His opponent may well refer to the fact that his shoes are wet, and therefore he is not able to go out.

Foundations are the logical link between statements and data. Without it, the argument does not sound convincing and, as a rule, does not force the opponent to agree with the arguments presented.

Dispute between people

Additional components of the argument include:

  • supporting;
  • refuting or limiting;
  • defining.

Supporting components - these are all kinds of additions, descriptions, examples aimed at confirming the main idea. The refuting or limiting components are those elements of statements that correct the main idea, make it narrower, concrete, indicate a framework. The defining components of the argument are those statements that show the degree of confidence, conviction of a person in his own statement. As a rule, these speech elements are correctly perceived at a subconscious level and often have a direct impact on the outcome of the discussion.


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