Argument by Association: On the Transmissibility of Commitment in Public Political Arguments

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Abstract

In this paper, I examine the question of commitment transmissibility in public political arguments. I explore the idea that under certain conditions, arguers become accountable for the commitments of their “argumentative associates” (Mohammed 2019a). I present cases where arguers make discursive effort to distance themselves from an undesirable associate in order to avoid acquiring the associate’s commitments, as well as cases where arguers fail to do so and face the consequences. I discuss the concept of commitment in argumentation (e.g. Hamblin 1970, Walton & Krabbe 1995), and I build on the scheme of guilt and honour by association (Groarke and Tindale 2004). The result is a nuanced normative view of arguments by association: the transmissibility of commitments between argumentative associates is a way to hold arguers accountable for the argumentative potential (Mohammed 2019b; see also Kjeldsen 2017; Serafis 2022) of their discourse, and yet, commitment transmissibility remains defeasible to avoid the over-attribution of commitment by association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)625-634
Number of pages10
JournalTopoi
Volume42
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

Keywords

  • Ad hominem
  • Argumentative associate
  • Argumentative potential
  • Commitment
  • Commitment transmissibility
  • Guilt by association
  • Implicit meaning
  • Inference
  • Political argument
  • Standing standpoint

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