Argumentative topoi seen from a discourse analytic perspective


One core aspect of argumentation is the inferential reasoning that justifies the transition from the premises to the conclusion. Classical rhetoric accounted for such inference in terms of topoi (or topics), while contemporary approaches have introduced the notion of argumentation schemes, even if the two concepts still largely coexist. Different approaches exist to the analysis and classification of topoi/schemes. This paper ponders on how two different approaches, the Argomentum Model of Topics (AMT) and the pragma-dialectical account of schemes, can serve the purposes of discourse analysts interested in argumentation. While discourse analysis tends to approach topoi from a content-based perspective, in this paper the view is taken that relying on more formalised accounts may add methodological rigour to the analysis of real-life argumentation, while enhancing points of contact between discourse analysis and argumentation theory. In particular, the AMT and the pragma-dialectical schemes are applied to the analysis of arguments used in editorials on Brexit, with a focus on populism. Building on a previous study in which recurrent topoi were analysed drawing on a content-based approach, this paper will try to establish connections between the topoi thus identified and more formalised classifications of argument schemes, considering the pros and cons of the two approaches.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v42p51

Keywords: discourse analysis; argumentation; topoi; schemes; Argomentum Model of Topics; pragma-dialectics; Brexit; populism


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