Special Issue "Pragmatics and Argumentation"

Rebecca Shen's picture
Call for Papers
Subject Fields: 
Languages, Linguistics

Dear Colleagues,

You are cordially invited to submit an abstract for a special issue of Languages, titled “Pragmatics and Argumentation”. This special issue is meant to (i) take stock of more than four decades of research at the interface of pragmatics and argumentation scholarship, (ii) reflect the current vigour of this research interface, and (iii) provide an overview of the different directions of investigation that have been explored (and continue to be explored) at this interface.

The connexion between pragmatic studies and argumentation studies is a strikingly natural one, given the proximity between their respective objects of inquiry and the way argumentation theory has steadily incorporated pragmatic models in many of its ramifications. Such proximity can for instance be witnessed in important theoretical endeavours such as in the pragma-dialectical full integration of speech act theory in its conception of argumentation as a speech act complex (see Snoeck Henkemans, 2014; van Eemeren & Grootendorst, 1984, 2004) and partial integration of Grice’s cooperative principle as a normative standard for the resolution of differences of opinion (van Eemeren & Grootendorst, 1988), or in the theoretical discussions highlighting the affinities between Grice’s (1989) notions of speaker meaning, implicature (see e.g. Kauffeld, 2001; Macagno & Walton, 2013; Moldovan, 2012) and principles of argumentative rationality (e.g., Jacobs, 2015; Sbisà, 2006), as well as in work on the pragmatic notion of commitment, as it relates to the management of disagreement in dialectical exchanges (Lewiński, 2011; Lewiński & Aakhus, 2014; Oswald & Lewiński, 2014; Walton & Krabbe, 1995). This proximity equally permeates methodological contributions to the issue of the reconstruction of argumentative discourse for evaluative purposes (see e.g. Becker, 2012; Gerritsen, 2001; Oswald, 2016) and current reflexions on the relationship between pragmatic and argumentative inference (Oswald, 2018; Oswald et al., 2020; Rigotti & Greco, 2019; Rocci, 2006). Moreover, a ‘linguistic turn’, many times driven by a semantic and pragmatic impulse, has steadily gained momentum in argumentation theory over the past decades, from early work by French scholars (Anscombre & Ducrot, 1983; Ducrot, 1980; Ducrot et al., 1980) on the inherently argumentative nature of meaning, to work on argumentative indicators (van Eemeren et al., 2007) and on specific linguistic structures and affordances that are argumentatively exploited by arguers (see e.g., Boogaart et al., 2021; Herman et al., 2018; Hinton, 2019; Oswald et al., 2018, 2020; Pollaroli et al., 2019). In recent years, some conversational approaches (e.g., Luginbühl & Kreuz, 2020; Mundwiler & Kreuz, 2018), philosophical approaches (Sbisà, 2018; Witek & Witczak-Plisiecka, 2019) and experimental approaches (Ozols et al., under revision, 2016; Schumann et al., accepted, 2019) to argumentation have all drawn on various strands of pragmatic research to address argumentative issues, thereby contributing to expand the already growing investigation of the pragmatics/argumentation interface.

We take all these to be clear indications of the mutual cross-fertilisation at play between the two disciplines, and at the same time as an indication that the time is right to take stock of these advances in order to provide a snapshot of what pragmatics has offered to argumentation, and vice-versa. While many international initiatives and research projects instantiate this interface in one way or another, a thorough collection of studies which frontally tackles it still missing. The projected special issue is meant to fill this gap.

We therefore invite abstracts for contributions which address one or more dimensions of the pragmatics/argumentation interface, across the board of approaches in pragmatics and in argumentation theory. Contributions of a theoretical, methodological, empirical, and experimental nature are welcome, and may deal with the following (non-exhaustive) list of topics:

  • meaning and argumentation
  • historical connexions between pragmatics and argumentation
  • (pragmatic and/or argumentative) inference
  • speech acts and argumentation
  • illocutionary and perlocutionary acts in argumentation
  • linguistic markers of argumentation
  • conversational aspects of argumentative practices
  • identity, face and argumentation
  • pragmatic constraints on the persuasiveness of argumentation
  • language, ethos and pathos
  • rhetorical advantages of pragmatic meaning

Important: As a general criterion for inclusion in the special issue, contributions which explicitly identify the pragmatic approach they draw on in discussing the modalities under which it can be fruitfully interfaced with argumentation theory will be privileged.

We request that, prior to submitting a manuscript, interested authors initially submit a proposed title and an abstract of 400-600 words summarizing their intended contribution. Please send it to the guest editor (steve.oswald@unifr.ch) or to Languages editorial office (languages@mdpi.com). Abstracts will be reviewed by the guest editors for the purposes of ensuring proper fit within the scope of the special issue. Full manuscripts will undergo double-blind peer-review.

Tentative completion schedule:

  • Abstract submission deadline: 15 April 2021
  • Notification of abstract acceptance: 15 May 2021
  • Full manuscript deadline: 1 December 2021

Dr. Steve Oswald
Guest Editor


  • pragmatics
  • argumentation
  • interface
  • inference
  • meaning
  • conversation
Contact Email: