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What Logic did to Rhetoric

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image of Journal of Cognition and Culture

Abstract Aristotle’s early works, Topics and Rhetoric, analyse argument as a means to persuasion, in almost exactly the same sense as the “argumentative theory” of Mercier and Sperber (2011). Why then does the argumentative theory seem so radical? In part because, after Aristotle had invented the syllogism, it seemed to provide a higher standard of argument, which subsequent generations took as the gold standard of reasoning, dismissing mere persuasion. The paper also traces the fortunes of one of Aristotle’s two types of argument in Rhetoric, namely, the example (Paradeigma: the other being the enthymeme). It is argued that the cause of paradigm’s final demise was a change in the conception of induction. Nevertheless, argument by example remains an important and neglected type of argument in our and many other societies.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto 170 St. George Street, Toronto, ON Canada M5R 2M8


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