ArgLab • Permanent Seminar

How to approach an arguer?

Lucija Duda (University of Manchester)

Feminist argumentation theory claims that, at least, race and/or gender should be considered part of the contextual argument analysis, given their impact on argumentation. The request is valid. Our social identity determines how others perceive us in argumentation (Yap, 2020; Hundleby, 2013; Rooney, 2012; Burrow, 2010) and can potentially determine our reasoning style (Henning, 2018; Hundleby, 2013; Orr, 1989). However, introducing social identity into analysis brings the threat of essentialism. As the history of feminist argumentation has shown, the arguments for recognising gender as influencing the reasoning presuppose the essentialist claim that a woman necessarily reasons contextually and cooperatively, crumbling down into universalism that all women do so. Standing in strict opposition to masculine adversariality, the ‘feminine’ in this so-called feminine style referred to privileged white women’s femininity (Henning, 2018). Lacking recognition that there is no fixed meaning of femininity, feminist argumentation failed to find a way to include social identity without falling into essentialist and universalist traps.

In this talk, I suggest a methodological tool which avoids the problems feminist argumentation face. Firstly, I propose to treat the arguer as socially positioned, where the position is the articulation of the major social systems of power (not only gender and race) mutually creating each other under specific historical conditions. Secondly, inspired by Quine’s context relativism about properties, I suggest that given the context of our inquiry, we treat the social position as more salient (essential) to an arguer and their style of reasoning as accidental to them. Consequently, we cut the necessary link between an arguer’s social position and the reasoning style. However, we do not deny the link altogether.

Everybody is welcome to join!

For online participation, please use the following link.

This event is organized by E. Rast. The purpose of this seminar series is to give researchers a platform to discuss ongoing work and problems in the philosophy of language, epistemology, argumentation, metaethics, and related areas. For administrative inquiries, please contact Erich Rast at