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On philosophical argumentation

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Abstract

Philosophical argumentation presents a puzzle for pragma-dialectics: both from the perspective of 2500 years of history and from what we can ourselves witness in the present, philosophers seem to be exclusively intent on strengthening and elaborating their differences of opinion. Nothing like that happens in other academic endeavors. This is an anomaly in pragma-dialectical terms because, if philosophical discussants do not want to resolve their differences of opinion, then they would seem to be unreasonable by definition. In other words, no critical discussion would be possible in philosophy because of the peculiar way philosophers argue. The anomaly can, however, be dispelled by using the elementary distinction between single and multiple differences of opinion. It is argued that, in spite of occasional appearances, all philosophical differences of opinion are multiple. From that it is argued that the ‘institutional point’ (van Eemeren, 2010) of philosophy is to create the broadest map of arguable positions. If this is true, then philosophers may after all be pursuing a higher-order kind of consensus, bearing in particular on how many arguments can be marshaled around any given philosophical question.

Keywords: differences of opinion; institutional point; mixed/non-mixed; philosophical argumentation; questions; single/multiple

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 25, 2019

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