Classifying the patterns of natural arguments

Fabrizio Macagno, Douglas Walton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


The representation and classification of the structure of natural arguments has been one of the most important aspects of Aristotelian and medieval dialectical and rhetorical theories. This traditional approach is represented nowadays in models of argumentation schemes. The purpose of this article is to show how arguments are characterized by a complex combination of two levels of abstraction, namely, semantic relations and types of reasoning, and to provide an effective and comprehensive classification system for this matrix of semantic and quasilogical connections. To this purpose, we propose a dichotomous criterion of classification, transcending both levels of abstraction and representing not what an argument is but how it is understood and interpreted. The schemes are grouped according to an end-means criterion, which is strictly bound to the ontological structure of the conclusion and the premises. On this view, a scheme can be selected according to the intended or reconstructed purpose of an argument and the possible strategies that can be used to achieve it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-53
Number of pages28
JournalPhilosophy and Rhetoric
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Argumentation
  • Argumentation schemes
  • Classification
  • Interpretation
  • Pragmatics
  • Textual analysis
  • Types of reasoning


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