Rowland 1987 – professor of communication at the University of Kansas (Robert, Philosophy and Rhetoric, 20.3, “On defining argument”, p. 155-6, EBSCO)
The final two characteristics identified by Brockriede--a willingness to risk confrontation and a shared frame of reference--also are not necessary attributes of argument. People often support their claims with reasons and evidence although they don't share a frame of reference or risk confrontation. When the Soviet and United States ambassadors to the United Nations engage in debate, they support their claims, but there is no risk of self and no shared frame of reference. Thus, characteristics (5) and (6) are not essential to the definition of argument. Rather, they are essential to the successful resolution of argument. Without a shared frame of reference and a willingness to risk the self, there is little chance of rationally resolving a dispute.
The functional approach to the study of argumentation is valuable because it provides a clear definition of the scope of argumentation. It recognizes that while all argument is rhetorical, not all rhetoric is argument. One danger associated with some recent work on argument is that the term argument itself becomes so broad that it loses all meaning. If argument is defined to include all disagreement, all comparison ofconstruct systems, and all instances in which an individual believes that he or she is arguing then essentially all communication is argument.
A more useful definitional move is to treat argument as the symbolic form(s) we use to solve problems rationally. This implies that argument is the method of reason. Such a definition sets the limits of argumentation and defines the form of argument in relation to the function of arguing. Moreover, so to define argument recognizes the role of evaluation in the study of argument. Merely to describe an argument or set of arguments leaves their human significance out of consideration. Once the arguments of a speech, essay, or other verbal interaction have been described with accuracy, the next point of critical interest is naturally the arguments' relative quality as efforts to induce closure. The value of examining arguments is undercut if description becomes the only aim of criticism of argumentation. A socially satisfying definition of argument and a useful theory of argumentation must provide at least trained theorists with grounds for distinguishing between weak and strong arguments, as the functional definition does.
Some will perhaps object that the functional definition of argument for which I have contended restricts a student of argumentation to study of propositional discourse. This is true in the sense that my definition identifies reason-giving as a fundamental characteristic of argument, and reason-giving is propositional. On the other hand, an issue that needs clarification in theory of argument, as I have shown, is whether "argumentation" and "rhetoric" are to be considered synonymous. If so, the concept of "argument" becomes unnecessary; the concept of "rhetoric" is sufficient. My contention is that arguments occur in rhetoric and need to be recognized, described, and evaluated in light of their unique functional and formal features. Arguments cannot be understood by applying the same kinds of analysis as we would apply if, say, rhythm were our point of interest. Arguments are formally and functionally different from rhythmic patterns, situational constraints, levels of vocabulary, and the like-all features of rhetoric. If argument is taken to be the means by which humans rationally solve problems-or try to, arguments can be identified , described, and evaluated critically as part of the broader enterprise of identifying, describing, and evaluating rhetoric. Across centuries, people have believed there is such a process as trying to arrive atpreferredconclusions by rational means, rather than by non-rational means. That process, I have argued, entailsdistinctive verbal formsappropriate to the function of the process. It is at least useful to give such purposeful forms and function a name. Traditionally and contemporaneously "argument" is philosophically and etymologically the appropriate name.