Antagonistic and Non-antagonistic Argumentation

There is an basic difference between antagonistic and non-antagonistic argumentation: The goals of antagonistic argumentation are usually:

  • promoting, increasing, and taking advantage of disunity among opponents and their allies,
  • seeking verbal and material dominance, pushing opponents out of the way,
  • bringing about psychological, verbal and physical confusion and demobilization of opponent forces,
  • causing the disruption, neutralization and ultimate elimination and disbanding of opponent forces,
  • creating favorable conditions for ultimate total material victory for yourself and allies.
  • Antagonism may start out as rhetorical but often ends up very material: In antagonistic argumentation, you try to  accuse, discredit, indict, convict, impeach, defeat, eliminate or sometimes even kill the opponent.

    Antagonistic argumentation is a loaded weapon. Never point it at someone unless you intend to destroy them!

Peace, Hope, UnityNon-antagonistic differences are sometimes material, but are always most appropriately settled by discursive (rhetorical) means:

  • seeking unity,
  • practicing respect and mutual support,
  • understanding, consciousness-raising and compassion,
  • seeking peace and reconciliation,
  • democracy,
  • free and open discussion and
  • finding ways of working together toward the common goal.

Cooperation builds.

Your task as a writer  is to correctly determine when each form of argument  is appropriate, and when it is not.

O.W. 10/05 rev 2/10



For educational purposes only.





Owen M. Williamson - Education Bldg 211E - phone: (915) 747 7625 - fax: (915) 747 5655
The University of Texas at El Paso - 500 W. University Ave. - El Paso, TX 79968
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