Reasoning from classifications and definitions

Douglas Walton, Fabrizio MacAgno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper we analyze the uses and misuses of argumentation schemes from verbal classification, and show how argument from definition supports argumentation based on argument from verbal classification. The inquiry has inevitably included the broader study of the concept of definition. The paper presents the schemes for argument from classification and for argument from definition, and shows how the latter type of argument so typically supports the former. The problem of analyzing arguments based on classification is framed in a structure that reveals the crucial role it plays in the persuasion process. The survey of the literature includes the work of Hastings, Perelman, Kienpointner and Schiappa, but still finds much of value in Aristotle. Lessons drawn from Aristotle's Topics are shown to be useful for developing new tools for assessing definitions and arguments from definition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-107
Number of pages27
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009


  • Argument from definition to classification
  • Argumentation schemes
  • Aristotle
  • Definition
  • Persuasive definition
  • Topics


Dive into the research topics of 'Reasoning from classifications and definitions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this