Analyzing Conversational Reasoning

Merrilee H. Salmon, Colleen M. Zeitz


This work discusses an empirical study of reasoning as it occurs in conversations. Reasoning in this context has features not usually accounted for in standard methods for describing argumentation (e.g., Toulmin, (1964), Toulmin, Rieke, and Janik (1984)). For example, insufficient attention has been paid to challenges which can be used to shift the ground of an argument and to the development of multiple conversational grounds. Moreover, even though the value of cooperative efforts in building arguments is widely recognized, more needs to be said about analyzing co-constructed arguments. This empirical work was primarily descriptive and concerned with how people construct arguments in conversations, but one goal of the study was to lay groundwork for comparing the quality of reasoning in conversations which differ with respect to whether the arguments they contain are primarily the contributions
of individuals or are genuinely co-constructed arguments.


discourse, argumentation, conversational analysis, pragmatics, implicit premises, shared reasoning

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ISSN: 0824-2577