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Revista signos

On-line version ISSN 0718-0934


VICUNA, Ana María  and  MARINKOVICH, Juana. A pragma-dialectical analysis of the debate about controversial issues in high school contexts. Rev. signos [online]. 2008, vol.41, n.68, pp.439-457. ISSN 0718-0934.

This article deals with the difficulties that may arise when classroom oral argumentation focuses on controversial ethical issues, such the legalization of euthanasia in Chile. In analyzing the turn-takings of an 11th-grade Spanish Language and Communication class in a simulated debate about euthanasia, while the learning unit "Argumentation" was being covered, it was observed that the students found hard to grasp the most complex concepts and to establish the required distinctions. To identify the problems that the students encounter when they had to argue orally, the argumentative structure of their turn-takings was analyzed, using the pragma-dialectical approach, and the students' arguments were compared with the most frequent philosophical arguments on this issue. The findings show the students' pitfalls in conducting a "critical discussion" and, at the same time, they account for the teachers' inexperience to distinguish between an ethical (or deontological) argumentation and a pragmatic argumentation.

Keywords : Pragma-dialectics; critical discussion; ethical argumentation; pragmatic argumentation; euthanasia.

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