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Argumentation is often understood as a coherent set of Western theories, birthed in Athens and developing throughout the Roman period, the Middle Ages, the Enlightenment and Renaissance, and into the present century. Ideas have been nuanced, developed, and revised, but still the outline of argumentation theory has been recognizable for centuries, or so it has seemed to Western scholars. The 2019 Alta Conference on Argumentation (co-sponsored by the National Communication Association and the American Forensic Association) aimed to question the generality of these intellectual traditions.
This resulting collection of essays deals with the possibility of having local theories of argument - local to a particular time, a particular kind of issue, a particular place, or a particular culture. Many of the papers argue for reconsidering basic ideas about arguing to represent the uniqueness of some moment or location of discourse. Other scholars are more comfortable with the Western traditions, and find them congenial to the analysis of arguments that originate in discernibly distinct circumstances.
The papers represent different methodologies, cover the experiences of different nations at different times, examine varying sorts of argumentative events (speeches, court decisions, food choices, and sound), explore particular personal identities and the issues highlighted by them, and have different overall orientations to doing argumentation scholarship. Considered together, the essays do not generate one simple conclusion, but they stimulate reflection about the particularity or generality of the experience of arguing, and therefore the scope of our theories.
About the Author
Dale Hample is Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Maryland, and Professor Emeritus of Communication at Western Illinois University. He has been a spotlight speaker at argumentation conferences in Canada, Chile, the Netherlands, and the United States. His previous books are Interpersonal Arguing (2018), Arguing: Exchanging Reasons Face to Face (2005), and Readings in Argumentation (1992; co-edited with William and Pamela Benoit). He is a past editor of Argumentation and Advocacy. For the past decade, his research has concentrated on studying orientations toward interpersonal arguing in more than a dozen nations across the world.