Dr Jean Wagemans is a philosopher who specializes in rhetoric, argumentation, and debate. He completed an MA in Philosophy and a PhD in Argumentation Theory at the University of Amsterdam and is currently working as a senior researcher at the Amsterdam Centre for Language and Communication (ACLC).
Wagemans is the initiator of the Periodic Table of Arguments, a systematic and comprehensive overview of the techniques people use to convince others of their point of view. He participates in the RPA Human(e) AI funded research project Towards an Epistemological and Ethical XAI, the NWO funded research project Resistance to Metaphor, and the HORIZON 2020 funded COST action APPLY – European network for argumentation and public policy analysis.
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 regularly appears in the media to talk about his research as well as to provide expert commentary. 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.
February 22, 2020
Three Amsterdam philosophers and a programmer have an ambitious plan: to develop an argumentation machine that helps to recognize false reasoning from speeches by Donald Trump or Greta Thunberg, for example.
Read the article (in Dutch).
October 22, 2019
Federica Russo, Jean Wagemans and Federico Gobbo are nominated for receiving the Amsterdam Science & Innovation Award 2019 in the category Alpha / Gamma with their project "KRINO: An AI engine for causal inference and argumentation".
Read more about the KRINO project.
September 10, 2018
The website on the Periodic Table of Arguments has been updated. Apart from new example analyses, it now also contains a step-by-step procedure that helps the analyst to recognize specific types of arguments in the wild.
December 9, 2017
You are invited to visit the new website about the Periodic Table of Arguments. It contains a description of the theoretical framework of the table, information on the types of arguments within the four different quadrants, and analyses of concrete examples. Please follow the link below.
May 12, 2017
Wagemans presented the Periodic Table of Arguments in a plenary lecture at the PhiLang 2017 conference in Łódz, addressing an audience of philosophers of language, linguists, and argumentation theorists. After a general explanation of the state-of-the-art in argument classification, he expounded the theoretical framework of the Periodic Table of Arguments, focusing on the characteristics of arguments based on the concept of analogy (and adjacent concepts such as comparison, metaphor, parallel, proportion, similarity, and resemblance).
March 16, 2017
Dutch philosopher Jean Wagemans pleaded for what he coined ’rhetoric-checking’ in a lecture for the interdisciplinary student society Kairos. According to Wagemans, fact-checking is very useful, but it only produces information about the truth of statements and not about their relevance. Moreover, fact-checking does not apply to propositions of value nor to propositions of policy, both of which play an important role in politics and the public debate. After having explained a method for rhetoric-checking, Wagemans performed a rhetoric-check of statements taken from campaign ads and speech fragments of Joe the Plumber and Donald Trump.
January 10, 2017
Dat is een heel goed idee! Want wie de retorica niet bestudeert, wordt er zelf het slachtoffer van. Lees het onderstaande interview met Jean Wagemans.
October 20, 2016
Wagemans contributed to a documentary on the Dutch Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement referendum by giving his expert opinion on the role of rhetoric in the public debate preceding the referendum. The documentary was made by Misja Pekel and Judith Konijn and was broadcasted on Dutch national television.
August 22, 2016
On the occasion of the start of the talk show season on Dutch national television Wagemans was invited to analyze rhetorical manoeuvres in an exemplary talk show debate broadcasted during the previous season. The infamous debate was about the question whether soccer clubs should take measurements to prevent young players of Moroccan origine from joining the club. Wagemans' comments were incorporated in an article written by Haro Kraak that was published in the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant.
April 27, 2016
Dutch philosopher Jean H.M. Wagemans of the University of Amsterdam presented his Periodic Table of Arguments on a conference on argumentation and rhetoric in Postira (Croatia) that was held last week. The table is an attempt to integrate philosophical (dialectical) and rhetorical accounts of the types of argument into a new standard model of argument.
Wagemans chose the Days of Ivo Škarić International Conference on Rhetoric to be the first occasion to present his Periodic Table of Arguments. “It is one of the most important and enjoyable conferences in the field. Because of the relatively small size and the great hospitality of the organizers, there is ample opportunity to discuss your findings at length with a group of top scholars”.
According to Wagemans, who has been working on the project for almost two years, the age-old antagonism between philosophy and rhetoric is reflected in the present-day field of argumentation theory: “Scholars working from a dialectical perspective tend to adhere to a strict division between reasonable arguments and fallacies. But since fallacies may be very effective, rhetoricians do not hesitate to include them in their accounts of the means of persuasion. As a result, there is a great divide between dialectical and rhetorical accounts of the types of arguments.”
Apart from narrowing the gap between philosophy and rhetoric, creating a Periodic Table of Arguments addresses another vexing problem in the field of argumentation theory. “Some scholars say that there are 63 types of arguments, others say 300, and yet others stick to only 3 different types. Now one may state that this is unproblematic since in the humanities, contrary to the situation in the sciences, it is always a positive thing to have such a wide variety of opinions. But I don’t buy that.” According to Wagemans, who studied physics and astronomy before switching to philosophy, any account of the types of argument should be based on clear and explicit theoretical starting points. “Only in this case, our elaborate analyses and evaluations of argumentative discourse can be compared to one another.”
The construction of the Periodic Table of Arguments has already generated several interesting hypotheses concerning the nature of arguments. “It appears to be the case that fallacies and several rhetorical means of persuasion can be reconstructed as second-order arguments. The periodicity of the table makes it easier to detect all kinds of differences and commonalities between the types of argument. I expect the table to generate a lot of interesting new research, not only theoretical but also empirical and computational research.”
As was pointed out by one of the attendants of the conference, the Periodic Table of Arguments may also be used for educational purposes. At the moment, Wagemans is working on a book on the table and its applications. “It sure is a lot of work, but I really enjoy writing it. The Periodic Table of Elements wasn’t created in one day either. So if you have any comments or questions, please drop me a line!”