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IM: 9781891136436

314 pages
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Understanding and Shaping Arguments

sixth edition

James A. Herrick
Hope College

This highly regarded textbook explores the skills—clear thinking, critical listening, and careful analysis—that are vital to rational, democratic discourse, and that today’s citizens and professionals need to make and evaluate arguments in real-life contexts.

Drawing on classical and contemporary theory, it explores the structure of arguments; the criteria of evidence, validity, and linguistic clarity; common types of arguments and fallacies; and issues in adapting arguments to audiences. Abundant examples and exercises illustrate principles in terms of students’ personal, professional, and civic lives.

The new edition is updated to reflect current theory and public concerns, including issues that arise with rapidly expanding internet resources and digital media.


  • focus on argument in students’ own lives, with examples from a wide array of current issues and contexts

  • emphasis on ethical responsibility and audience-centered argument

  • substantive, clear, engaging explanations of concepts, principles, and guidelines

  • thorough, step-by-step approach to understanding and analyzing arguments


  • updated examples and exercises, reflecting current events, issues, and media forms

  • expanded, updated discussions of visual evidence and arguments (Chapters 6 and 17) 

  • new discussion of conspiracy theories and critical evaluation of evidence (Chapter 6)

  • expanded discussion of internet resources and discourse, with a new section on podcasts (Chapter 7)


  • key terms at the beginning of each chapter, with a glossary at the end of the book

  • abundant exercises following each chapter

  • websites with additional resources listed after each chapter

  • epigrams, pull quotes, and figures highlighting salient points

  • photographs illustrating visual arguments and the pervasiveness of argument in our lives

  • instructor’s manual with many additional exercises and teaching resources


"This is a high-quality book that presents key concepts succinctly while maintaining the complexity and integrity of the scholarship. The book does a nice job of offering contemporary examples taken from a wide variety of contexts that students can relate to."
Jennifer Biedendorf
California State University, Stanislaus

"I like Argumentation a great deal. It is very well organized. It breaks concepts up into small digestible chapters that provide sufficient but not excessive explanation. It provides many exercises and specific examples to help students engage with the material."
Sarah T. Partlow LeFevre
Idaho State University

"The major strengths of this textbook are its clarity, clear discussion of deductive reasoning, and use of relevant examples."
Margaret M. Michels
Pennsylvania State University

"I am thrilled to see that the sixth edition continues to ground itself in ethical and audience-based approaches to argumentation."  
Michaela Frischherz
Towson University

"The text focuses on cooperative argumentation rather than competitive, which gives students a positive lens by which to view the concepts."
Jill James
Tarrant County College

"My students have been very happy with the text. The examples in the text are clear and it is well organized."
David Romanelli
Loyola University Chicago

"I consider this new edition to be the best textbook on this subject currently available. Both students and teachers will appreciate the author's straightforward and clear writing style. They will also appreciate its thorough and well-organized coverage of the important concepts necessary to truly understand argumentation and debate."
Samuel Mayer Nelson
Cornell University

“Concise and accessible to students with little background in logic.”
Joel S. Ward
Geneva College

"I have found Argumentation: Understanding and Shaping Arguments to fit the class really well. I like how the book is structured around the concept of argumentation as a process of reasoning through to a decision. I have also found that the exercises provide a good point of discussion and analysis."
George Dionisopolous
San Diego State University

"Another strength of the book consists of the chapter length discussions of ethics and reasonableness, which generated a lot of fruitful discussion in my class and which students found particularly relevant in terms of thinking about the state of argument on campus and in our nation at large."
Martin Camper
Loyola University Maryland

"I really like the updates with current examples. I think my students will respond well to these additions."
Heather May
Emerson College

"I always prefer to choose a text with a quality instructor’s manual.  For this class, I use exercises from the text as application questions in class.  I also used the Instructor’s Manual to develop my syllabus, my writing assignment, and to create online quizzes from every chapter." 
Sarah T. Partlow LeFevre
Idaho State University


“This is a quality book. It is very clear, with obvious cues for students to follow with respect to definitions and key terms.” 
Michael Butterworth
Bowling Green State University 

“Herrick offers a solid introduction to the basics of argumentation. The book works well on the theoretical and practical levels. Students who study it will become stronger at constructing and deconstructing arguments of all sorts. I also appreciate the discussion of civil discourse and the role of advocacy in society.” 
Samuel Mayer Nelson
Cornell University 

“The author approaches argumentation in a practical and useful way. My students leave the classroom at the end of the semester with an understanding of HOW arguments function.” 
Treva Hodges
Indiana University Southeast 

“I hoped to find a book that was strong on theoretical methods for testing reasoning patterns (warrants) and had good coverage of evidence and case construction, as well as general material on the ethics and contexts of arguments. The text does all of this nicely. I find Herrick’s book the strongest by far.” 
Brandon Inabinet
Furman University 

“I like the emphasis on evidence. . . . I encourage a healthy skepticism towards Internet sources and appreciate extended coverage of how to assess the credibility of web sites.” 
Stephen Andon
Nova Southeastern University 

“My favorite thing about this book is Herrick’s accessible writing style and his ability to ‘break down’ difficult concepts so they are easily digestible. I also love Herrick’s wide range of examples to clarify concepts and give richness to his analyses.” 
Abbie Syrek
University of Nebraska at Omaha 

“This text has met my teaching purposes well. I especially like the author’s use of examples to illustrate the concepts.” 
Douglas Fraleigh
California State University, Fresno 

"The text is concise yet thorough. I get very positive feedback from students."
Diana Bowen
University of Houston-Clear Lake

“The examples are phenomenal.” 
Ryan Louis
Ottawa University

“Herrick’s book effectively addresses the role of critical thinking in argumentation, the questions we should ask in light of the different forms that arguments take, and the different assumptions that are foundational to those forms.” 
Cory Hillman
Central Michigan University

“This text is universal—it applies well to all facets of argumentation.” 
R. V. Barello
Lewis University

“The Instructor’s Manual is a good check on faulty reasoning, particularly in the difficult sections of the text, such as validity in argumentation.” 
Carl Isaacson
Bethany College 

“Overall organization, test bank, timing were excellent.” 
Bryan P. Jacobs
Dixie State College 


James A. Herrick is the Guy Vander Jagt Professor of Communication at Hope College. He received his B.A. from California State University, Fresno; his M.A. from the University of California, Davis; and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Professor Herrick regularly teaches courses in argumentation, rhetorical criticism, and the history of rhetoric. He has received the John and Ruth Reed Faculty Achievement Award for excellence in teaching and research.

Herrick is the author or editor of eight books, on topics ranging from the history of rhetoric to Enlightenment religious discourse. His co-edited collection of essays, After the Genome: A Language for our Biotechnological Future, received the edited volume of the year award from the Ethics Division of the National Communication Association. His latest book is Visions of Technological Transcendence: Human Enhancement and the Rhetoric of the Future (2017).



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