EDNA: Argumentation

Many years ago when I began to teach English at the Kent School in Connecticut, I devised an acronym for my students based on two primary sources: Aristotle’s Rhetoric (4th century BCE) and Modern Rhetoric (1949) co-authored by Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren. 

Since then, I have introduced the acronym to thousands of students n the classroom and to even more executives in the workshops and seminars I have conducted.


Exposition explains with information

Description makes vivid with common details

Narration tells a story or explains a sequence

Argumentation convinces with evidence and/or logic (deduction and/or induction)

*     *     *

Almost all communications involve two or more of these levels of rhetoric. Let’s take a closer look at ARGUMENTATION.

The Greek word literally means to present proof or a line of reasoning in support of one position in a situation of contention or disagreement.


If evidence is involved, it must be credible; that is, sufficient and verifiable, obtained from a reliable source or sources.

The process of deduction begins with accumulating and then evaluating a body of information in order to reach a tentative conclusion or working hypothesis.

“Based on the evidence, it seems probable that the victim knew the killer.”

The process of induction begins with a theory or working hypothesis and extrapolates to its relevant implications.

“If we assume that the victim knew the killer, the persons of interest include all family members, neighbors, friends, and business associates.”

I realize this is a simplistic example. To learn more about dedication and induction, please click here.

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