Design Thinking in Argumentation Theory and Practice

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This essay proposes a design perspective on argumentation, intended as complementary to empirical and critical scholarship. In any substantive domain, design can provide insights that differ from those provided by scientific or humanistic perspectives. For argumentation, the key advantage of a design perspective is the recognition that humanity’s natural capacity for reason and reasonableness can be extended through inventions that improve on unaided human intellect. Historically, these inventions have fallen into three broad classes: logical systems, scientific methods, and disputation frameworks. Behind each such invention is a specifiable “design hypothesis”: an idea about how to decrease error or how to increase the quality of outcomes from reasoning. As problems in contemporary argumentation practice become more complex, design thinking rises in relevance and importance. A design research agenda in argumentation would focus on theorizing design innovations (such as advanced patterns of argumentation) and on evaluating design hypotheses (such as proposals for how to incorporate expert opinion into public decision-making).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-263
Number of pages21
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 18 2015


  • Deliberation
  • Design
  • Naturally occurring argumentation
  • Pragma-dialectics
  • Statistical reasoning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Linguistics and Language


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