Scott F. Aikin The notion of universality in argumentation is as fecund as is it is controversial. Chaïm Perelman and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca's notion of universal audience (UA), given their requirement that all arguments be evaluated in terms of their audiences, clearly promises a rich account of argumentative norms. It equally yields a variety of questions. For the most part, the questions come in three forms: what, precisely, is the universal audience; whether it is, in the end, a coherent notion; and how its norms actually constrain argument. Many objections to the notion claim that it is either incoherent or too empty to constrain. My objective here is to provide an account of Perelman's notion of UA that avoids these objections. I will argue that the UA can be clarified with a distinction between two functions it plays in argumentation-- one pragmatic and another epistemic. Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca do not explicitly disambiguate these roles themselves, though they do use the notion in two distinct ways in The New Rhetoric (TNR ), and so it seems clear that although the view in the end may be Perelmanian, it is arguably not Perelman's. No matter. The purpose of this essay is
Philosophy and Rhetoric – Penn State University Press
Published: Sep 17, 2008
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