Reasonable decision-making: the importance of argumentation

The Council of States in session (image:
The Council of States in session (image:

Institutional Communication Service

31 January 2018

The second edition of Argage (Argumentation and Language – Argumentation et Langage) will see experts and academics from all over the world convene at the USI Lugano campus from February 7 to 9 to explore the intersections between argumentation and language. The seminar will also analyse the very current theme of the automatic mining of argumentative patterns from texts, an innovative practice that is potentially useful for the analysis of large amounts of written content which, supported by big data, can support the work of policy makers, journalists and other media professionals. 

The conference is organised by academics at USI from the Institute of Argumentation, Linguistics and Semiotics (IALS) and the Institute of Italian Studies (ISI), in collaboration with other scholars of argumentation from the universities of Lausanne, Fribourg and Neuchâtel.   

In current times when public debate and democracy seem to falter in many parts of the world, when emotions risk to have a negative influence on persuasion and the ability to make well-founded decisions, it becomes essential to reinstate reasonableness in the decision-making processes of political and civic contexts. In this, the study of argumentation plays an important role. For instance, the scrupulous analysis of political discourse in different areas (e.g. citizens' initiatives in Switzerland, communication by the European Union, presidential speeches in the United States, parliamentary debates, etc.) enables us to shed light on the positive and problematic aspects and compare current practices with texts and practices taken from history and tradition. Through this analysis, which concerns in an important way information and the media, as well as interpersonal communication in different spheres of society, one acquires a critical awareness of current reality and, ultimately, defends the democratic role of dialogue. 

The Argage conference benefits from the support of the Swiss National Science Foundation and of the Swiss Association for Applied Linguistics (VALS-ASLA).

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