Journal of Pragmatics

Volume 186, December 2021, Pages 129-141
Journal of Pragmatics

Stock issues and the structure of argumentative discussions: An integrative analysis

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2021.09.021Get rights and content
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We integrate ‘stock issues’ in the analysis of argumentative discussions.

Stock issues are general, normative, field-dependent and are accompanied by decision-rules.

The method can be employed to solve some persistent problems in the analysis of argumentative exchanges.

The method allows for the analysis of polylogues (with more than two speakers).


We develop a method for analyzing argumentative discussions centered around the notion of ‘stock issues’, i.e., the field-dependent standard issues addressed by the participants in such discussions. The method yields an overview of the structure and content of complex argumentative discussions with multiple participants, including the activated stock issues and the ‘depth’ of the argumentation advanced per each stock issue. We start from the assumption that any given discussion context requires a set of stock issues to be addressed by the participants through their argumentation, tied together by a decision rule regulating the weight of each stock issue on the matter at hand. The building blocks of our method and the results of its application are illustrated through an example. We discuss several extensions and problems, concluding with directions for further research.


Argumentative discussions
Structure of interaction
Stock issues

Dr. Eugen Popa is a communication scholar who works in the field of STS (science and technology studies) and RRI (responsible research and innovation). He works as postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Communication, Philosophy and Technology where he is involved in various European and Dutch projects relating to stakeholder interaction in innovation. His work has been published in Informal Logic, Science and Public Policy, Public Understanding of Science, Philosophy and Technology, Cogency. He is the winner of the 2016 J. A. Blair prize fort he study of argumentation.

Eugen Popa obtained his PhD in 2015 with a thesis on argumentative interactions in science (Popa, 2016b) and published papers on the reasonableness of argumentative interactions (Popa, 2016a), discussion structures for reconstructing scientific debates (Popa, Blok and Wesselink, 2020b), friction between stakeholders in innovation projects (Popa, Blok and Wesselink, 2020c), technological conflict (Popa, Blok and Wesselink, 2020a).

He has been involved as a postdoctoral researcher in several Horizon 2020 such as RRI Tools, RiConfigure, NewHoRRIzon and since March 2021 in the RRIstart project. He has also worked with the Dutch Health Council in studying the interaction between scientists and policy makers in cases of public controversy.

Highlighted publications:

Popa, E. O. (2016a). Criticism without fundamental principles. Informal Logic, 36(2), 192–216.

Popa, E. O. (2016b). Tought experiments in academic communication. Doctoral dissertation. University of Amsterdam. Amsterdam. Retrieved from https://pure.uva.nl/ws/files/2759368/176326_proefschrift_eugen_popa_UBA_complete.pdf

Popa, E. O., Blok, V., & Wesselink, R. (2020a). An Agonistic Approach to Technological Conflict. Philosophy & Technology, 1–21. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13347-020-00430-7

Popa, E. O., Blok, V., & Wesselink, R. (2020b). Discussion structures as tools for public deliberation. Public understanding of science, 29(1), 76–93. https://doi.org/10.1177/0963662519880675

Popa, E. O., Blok, V., & Wesselink, R. (2020c). A processual approach to friction in quadruple helix collaborations. Science and Public Policy. https://doi.org/10.1093/scipol/scaa054

Dr Jean Wagemans is a philosopher who specializes in rhetoric, argumentation, and debate. He is a senior researcher at the Amsterdam Centre for Language and Communication (ACLC) and serves as the Chair of the Department of Speech Communication, Argumentation Theory, and Rhetoric of the University of Amsterdam.

Wagemans is the initiator of the Periodic Table of Arguments, a systematic and comprehensive overview of persuasive techniques with applications in formal linguistics, rhetoric-checking, and explainable artificial intelligence (XAI). His research collaborations include the RPA Human(e) AI funded research project Towards an Epistemological and Ethical XAI, the HORIZON 2020 funded COST action APPLY – European network for argumentation and public policy analysis, and the NWO funded research project Resistance to Metaphor.

Wagemans co-authored the Handbook of Argumentation Theory (2014) and Argumentation and debate (in Dutch, 2014). His other publications include scientific articles, book reviews, and popularizing columns. Wagemans gives guest lectures, invited talks, and keynote speeches at international conferences and regularly appears in the media to talk about his research and to provide expert commentary on current affairs.

At the University of Amsterdam, Wagemans teaches courses and supervises theses at the BA, MA, and PhD level. He is a member of the editorial board of the journal Argumentation and a reviewer for Informal Logic, Argument & Computation, Journal of Argumentation in Context, and other scientific journals. Wagemans co-directed the ISSA 9th International Conference on Argumentation and was a member of the scientific panels of ECA 2, ARGAGE 2018, DIS 3, and other conferences in the field.