© 2014

The Concept of Argument

A Philosophical Foundation

  • Outlines a thoroughly reflected philosophical fundament of the concept of argument and its role in the growth of knowledge

  • Proposes a pragmatic and more nuanced understanding of the concept of argumentative practice and the role of subjectivity in the dynamics of argument

  • Deploys fascinating historical and contemporary case studies from the French Revolution to today’s embryo debate

  • Critically examines axiomatic ‘rational’ arguments, such as economic ones, to expose the need to transcend the limitations of subjectivity


Part of the Logic, Argumentation & Reasoning book series (LARI, volume 4)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-lxii
  2. Harald R. Wohlrapp
    Pages 1-54
  3. Harald R. Wohlrapp
    Pages 55-91
  4. Harald R. Wohlrapp
    Pages 93-125
  5. Harald R. Wohlrapp
    Pages 127-173
  6. Harald R. Wohlrapp
    Pages 175-229
  7. Harald R. Wohlrapp
    Pages 231-265
  8. Harald R. Wohlrapp
    Pages 267-314
  9. Harald R. Wohlrapp
    Pages 315-360
  10. Harald R. Wohlrapp
    Pages 361-391
  11. Harald R. Wohlrapp
    Pages 393-419
  12. Back Matter
    Pages 421-443

About this book


Arguing that our attachment to Aristotelian modes of discourse makes a revision of their conceptual foundations long overdue, the author proposes the consideration of unacknowledged factors that play a central role in argument itself. These are in particular the subjective imprint and the dynamics of argumentation. Their inclusion in a four-dimensional framework (subjective-objective, structural-procedural) and the focus on thesis validity allow for a more realistic view of our discourse practice. Exhaustive analyses of fascinating historical and contemporary arguments are provided. These range from Columbus' advocacy of the Western Passage to India, over the trial of King Louis XVI during the French Revolution, to today’s highly charged controversies surrounding euthanasia and embryo research.

Excavating foundational issues such as the purpose of argument itself (assent of an audience or critical examination of validity claims) and the contested role of argument as a generator of knowledge, the book culminates in a discussion of the relationship between rationality and reasonableness and criticizes the restrictions of ‘rational’ argument relying on fixed logical, economic or cultural criteria that in reality are mutable. Here, a true, open argument requires the infusion of Paul Lorenzen’s principle of ‘transsubjectivity’, which recognizes but transcends the partiality of the individual, and which can be seen in the pragmatic and expanding consensus that humanity can control itself to safeguard the future of a fragile, damaged world.


Argumentation Analysis Belief system, Orientation system Circular argument Dialogue, Argumentative Dynamics of Argument Embryo debate Framing, Reframing Growth of knowledge Neopragmatism Phlogiston Theory Reflexivity, Meta-argumentation Self-referentiality Transsubjectivity Trial of Louis XVI

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Professor emeritus of philosophy Universität HamburgHamburgGermany

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title The Concept of Argument
  • Book Subtitle A Philosophical Foundation
  • Authors Harald R. Wohlrapp
  • Series Title Logic, Argumentation & Reasoning
  • Series Abbreviated Title Log., Argum. Ration.
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Humanities, Social Sciences and Law Philosophy and Religion (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-94-017-8761-1
  • Softcover ISBN 978-94-024-0685-6
  • eBook ISBN 978-94-017-8762-8
  • Series ISSN 2214-9120
  • Series E-ISSN 2214-9139
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages LXII, 443
  • Number of Illustrations 2 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Logic
    Philosophy, general
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“The book is intended to be a contribution to contemporary argumentation theory. Wohlrapp’s main goal in this book is to provide a philosophical foundation for a theory of argumentation … . philosophers and argumentation theorists alike will find plenty to engage with in this voluminous book. … it is a welcome addition to the literature on argumentation theory.” (Moti Mizrahi, Metascience, Vol. 24, 2015)