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IM: 9781891136498
328 pages
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suggested list price: $105.00
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Understanding and Shaping Arguments

seventh edition

James A. Herrick
Hope College


This highly regarded textbook explores the clear thinking, critical listening, and careful analysis skills that are vital to productive 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, the book 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, concerns, and controversies of public discourse.


  • focus on argument in students’ own personal, professional, and civic 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 throughout, reflecting current events, issues, and media

  • enhanced emphasis on ethics, with a new section on the rights of audiences (Chapter 4) 

  • expanded discussion of the characteristics and dangers of conspiracy theories (Chapter 6) 

  • expanded section on assessing a source’s expertise (Chapter 6)

  • new section on activism as argument (Chapter 17)


  • 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 at the end of 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


"Argumentation: Understanding and Shaping Arguments has worked exceptionally well in my course. It is accessible to students who have little background in logic and rhetoric because it breaks down complex concepts into manageable, readable chunks and provides clear, straightforward explanations and up-to-date illustrations. At the same time, it provides plenty of challenging, thought-provoking material and examples for students with stronger levels of preparation and skill in logic, analysis, research, and writing. It’s an adaptable text that works for a wide range of students."
Sherry Truffin
Campbell University

"The Herrick book is direct and easy for students to follow. This is especially important for teaching online since there is less interaction with the students on a regular basis."
Meredith Neville-Shepard
University of Arkansas

"I use Herrick’s argumentation textbook because of the clarity of his explanations and the accessibility of his examples. I haven’t reviewed any other argumentation textbook that gets close, and it gets even better with every edition (present new edition included)."
Billy Huff, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

"Clearest, most accessible treatment of formal logic; careful attention to ethics; excellent exercises."
Bryan Kampbell
Buena Vista University

"Herrick’s text adds a certain reasoned heft to understanding the commentary that swirls amid events in the world today."
Joseph R. Piasek
State University of New York, Delhi

"Breaks down the elements of argument clearly, provides good examples, suits my course needs." 
Deborah Anthony
University of Illinois Springfield

"The text is clear. Good analysis and it is easy to comprehend."
David Romanelli
Loyola University Chicago

"It’s still the best on the market."
Ryan Neville-Shepard
University of Arkansas


"I think the new edition of this book is even more suited for my teaching needs than it has been in the past and I have been very satisfied with it in the past."
Samuel Mayer Nelson
Cornell University

"A major strength of the new edition is a discussion of the rights of audiences concept in chapter 4 coupled with the extended (and timely) discussion of conspiracy theories in chapter 6. These sections help with 'normalizing' discussions that students may otherwise perceive as very charged."
Jennifer Biedendorf
California State University, Stanislaus

"I very much appreciate the updated examples in the new edition, including references to vaccinations, COVID-19, immigration, and Bitcoin."
Billy Huff
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

"The new material on the rights of audiences, on the nature of expertise, and on conspiracy theories represent welcome additions."
Sherry Truffin
Campbell University

"I’m happy to see a renewed focus on ethics."
Jennifer Biedendorf
California State University, Stanislaus

"The new section on social activism is good. It provides a good counterpoint to a discussion about ethical arguments, and it’s fresh."
Dr. Judith Fourzan
University of Texas El Paso

"The addition of information about conspiracy theories is useful and timely."
Erica Bailey
Angelo State University

"A major strength of the new edition is the addition to Chapter 4 regarding the rights of the audiences. This is a crucial component of argumentation and something that I haven’t seen deeply covered in other textbooks."
Celeste Wells
Boston College


"I find the Instructor’s Manual useful for quiz questions and activity ideas."
Kelly Young, Wayne State University

"The Instructor’s Manual has been helpful as it puts the chapters into a linear context for teaching and provides thoughtful exercises."
Joseph R. Piasek, State University of New York, Delhi


"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

"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


James A. Herrick is professor emeritus at Hope College, where he was the Guy Vander Jagt Professor of Communication for twenty years. 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 has regularly taught courses in argumentation, rhetorical criticism, and the history of rhetoric. He 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.



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