Conceptions of Speech Acts in the Theory and Practice of Argumentation: A Case Study of a Debate About Advocating

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Far from being of interest only to argumentation theorists, conceptions of speech acts play an important role in practitioners’ self-reflection on their own activities. After a brief review of work by Houtlosser, Jackson and Kauffeld on the ways that speech acts provide normative frameworks for argumentative interactions, this essay examines an ongoing debate among scientists in natural resource fields as to the appropriateness of the speech act of advocating in policy settings. Scientists’ reflections on advocacy align well with current scholarship, and the scholarship in turn can provide a deeper understanding of how to manage the communication challenges scientists face.

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