Synthesizing major views of argument: From metaphor to model
Nguyen, Duc Minh
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Argumentation is studied not only in argumentation studies but also in many other disciplines, and there are needs identified in the literature for the synthesis of argumentation theory within argumentation studies and across disciplines. This exploratory study aims to be a step towards addressing those needs by synthesizing some major theoretical views on the concept of “argument,” one of the most central concepts in argumentation theory. The theoretical synthesis conducted in this study is built around a proposed new metaphor for the concept of argument and a model based on that metaphor, which together serve as the crystallization of the relevant theoretical views being synthesized. By starting with a metaphor and developing it into a model, this study emulated the metaphor-to-model process that is observed in the literature as occurring in the history of theory development and consolidation of some disciplines. The aim of this study is, thus, twofold: to develop a methodology for implementing this novel approach and to explore whether synthesizing the major views on the concept of argument using this novel approach is viable and beneficial. The evaluation of the resulting metaphor and model—a proof-of-concept prototype obtained from implementing a heuristic method specifically developed for this novel approach—especially the potential benefits of their use, shows that taking this novel approach to theoretical synthesis is indeed viable and beneficial. In addition, given their characteristics and the beneficial cascading effect that results from a synthesis of theoretical views on such a central concept in argumentation theory, they are also found to provide a fruitful framework for further theory synthesis, and potentially even theoretical development and application, not only within argumentation studies but also across related disciplines.