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Jean Wagemans has been appointed Professor of Cognition, Communication and Argumentation at the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Amsterdam (UvA). His research will focus on the cognitive aspects of persuasive communication and argumentation, with a specific emphasis on innovative research methods and applications. ‘The changes in the means, modes and speed of human communication call for an innovative approach.’
Jean Wagemans (photo: Greetje van der Werf)

Jean Wagemans is a philosopher specialising in rhetoric and argumentation theory. His research primarily revolves around describing the various ways people employ to persuade one another. Within this context, he has developed the Periodic Table of Arguments, a systematic representation of the traditional philosophical and rhetorical overviews of arguments and other persuasion techniques.

Furthermore, the professor has been involved in several other projects, including Towards an Epistemological and Ethical XAI, funded by RPA Human(e) AI. This project focuses on Explainable AI. ‘The complete or partial artificial generation of information has gained momentum in recent years’, says Wagemans. ‘How can we ensure that AI employed in this domain is transparent and can be comprehended at a human level? Expertise in reasoning and persuasion processes is indispensable for achieving this goal.’

The challenges of the information age

In his role of Professor of Cognition, Communication and Argumentation, Wagemans will conduct research on the cognitive aspects of persuasive communication and argumentation. ‘More insight in this area will also contribute to the development of concrete tools and applications that can help people navigate the challenges posed by the information age’, he says. ‘One of the ongoing projects is Argument-Checking, an extension of fact-checking that enables people to assess the argumentative quality of information.’

The new chair aims to promote interdisciplinary cooperation, fostering connections with the social sciences and media studies. This endeavour also incorporates innovative methods such as big data analysis and the development of computational models. ‘The changes in the means, modes and speed of human communication call for an innovative approach, which combines theoretical knowledge with empirical research methods’, Wagemans explains. ‘My goal is to develop a coherent research programme at the intersection of cognition, communication and argumentation, with applications in the field of AI.’

About Jean Wagemans

Jean Wagemans obtained his PhD in 2009 at the UvA, based on research into the relationship between dialectical and rhetorical approaches to argumentation. Following that, he continued to be affiliated with the UvA as a lecturer and researcher. Currently, he serves as the chair of the Department of Speech Communication, Argumentation Theory, and Rhetoric and coordinates the interdisciplinary research group Language and Cognition in Argumentation (LANCAR). Wagemans authored the chapter The Philosophy of Argument (2022) in the Cambridge Handbook for the Philosophy of Language and is co-author of the Handbook of Argumentation Theory (2014) and Argumentatie en debat (2014). He is a member of the editorial board of TOPOI and Argumentation and serves as a reviewer for journals such as Synthese, Informal Logic, and Argument & Computation.

Prof. J.H.M. (Jean) Wagemans

Faculty of Humanities

Capaciteitsgroep Taalbeheersing, Argumentatietheorie en Retorica