The arguments from coherenceThe arguments from coherence
Faculty of Law
Grondslagen van het recht
Oxford journal of legal studies. - Oxford
25(2005), p. 369-391
In this article, the theory of argumentation set out by the Dutch scholars Frans van Eemeren and Rob Grootendorst is brought to bear in subjecting the general form of the argument from coherence to a critical analysis. First, a distinction is brought out between two basic kinds of argument from coherence: in one use this argumentative structure occurs as a sequence of two arguments establishing that a standpoint constitutes a particular instantiation or a inherent quality of the system it will become part of (symptomatic argument); in the other use we have a main symptomatic argument supported by a subordinate argument appealing to instrumental considerations (pragmatic argument). It is then claimed that arguments from coherence are complex types of argumentation, structured at various argumentative levels, where the premises must be taken together to yield an adequate defence of the conclusion (coordinative argumentation). Finally, an evaluative assessment is made as to whether arguments from coherence can serve acceptably as tools for settling disputes: it will be maintained that we can generally welcome these argumentative structures as sound and fully acceptable provided we are aware of the interpretive discretion their use entails.