A topical approach to argument: an un-enlightened paradigm of rhetorical invention

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University of Alabama Libraries

In contemporary society, expertise is often a liability for those seeking to persuade the public. This work argues that the contemporary rejection of expertise is caused by a lack of proper rhetorical training, that the lack of rhetorical training is in turn an effect of rhetorical pedagogies rooted in Enlightenment values, and finally that rhetoricians must return to a pre-Enlightenment pedagogy if expertise is ever to obtain the recognition it deserves. Contemporary rhetorical training in argument is examined through a discussion of the argument systems of Stephen Toulmin, Chaïm Perelman, and Aristotle. The important aspects of these argument systems, the Toulmin model of argument, Perelman’s universal audience, and the Aristotelian enthymeme, are reviewed and critiqued. In the latter portion of the work, the study describes a distinctly rhetorical method for inventing arguments and discusses its implications for the problem of popularizing expertise.

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Rhetoric, Philosophy, Communication