Call for papers - Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio

Vol. 12, N. 1/2018: Argumentation and Medicine

Edited by Roberta Martina Zagarella

Deadline: 20.01.2018

Argumentation theory, or “new rhetoric”, focuses on our uses of language when a decision with an action in sight is at stake. Today, argumentation theory has proven particularly pertinent to the analysis of the role language plays in clinical practice and more generally in biomedicine – areas that increasingly involve individual choices regarding health and the body.

The combination of rhetoric and medicine, however, is not a new one. The methodological affinities of the two disciplines constituted, in fact, a topos of ancient Greek thought, especially with regards to the ability of the rhetor and the physician to make good decisions; the constitutive possibility of deviating from pre-established, fixed paths by elaborating new hypotheses; as well as the importance of the individual case in both practices.

The objective of this journal issue is to thematise the relationship between argumentation/rhetoric and medicine, by putting ancient tradition and the contemporary debate into dialogue. We hope to gather contributions from a variety of disciplines which will emphasise the key elements of this relationship. The interconnections between argumentation and medicine merit scrutiny from points of view that are diverse and complementary. On the one hand, this interdisciplinary approach will allow us to test a number of theoretical models of argumentation on an area of application that is less common than politics or law. Medicine entails ethically complex and continuously shifting individual situations, not least due to biomedical innovations. Furthermore, a juxtaposition of the two disciplines enables us to linger on some of their common epistemological traits, as well as on the status of proof; on the notions of credibility, trust, truth, and liberty; and finally on bioethical principles such as self-determination and autonomy. On the other hand, argumentation studies can offer tools for reflection on the era of post-paternalistic medicine, from a bioethical as well as biopolitical point of view. Moreover, a rhetorical or argumentative perspective can contribute to the contemporary need for what is called “high-quality communication” in the field of health. Finally, argumentation allows us to tackle – not only from a political, but also from a theoretical point of view – the issue of science's loss of credibility in the eyes of citizens, as seen, for instance, in the controversy over the safety and efficacy of vaccines; as well as to dissect the debate over fake news, post-truth and science communication.

We welcome contributions that focus on: historical as well as theoretical reconstructions of the relationship between rhetoric and medicine; the role of persuasive language in contemporary medicine; the bioethical and biopolitical issues that underlie it; the discursive and decision-making processes that involve physicians and patients, including securing informed consent; the relationship between the word and the cure, or between discourse and biopower; the divulgation of science; the ways in which citizens understand, evaluate, and discuss medical information; the impact of fake news and the notion of post-truth. We will consider contributions which analyse the relationship between argumentation and medicine from diverse theoretical standpoints and disciplines, such as, but not limited to: argumentation theory; rhetoric; philosophy of language; linguistics; semiotics; history of ideas; bioethics; moral philosophy; philosophy of law; philosophy of science; medicine; psychoanalysis; psychology; neuroscience; sociology.


Submissions may be in English, French, Italian and Spanish. Abstract in English of no more than 250 words is required for all manuscripts submitted. Each manuscript should have title and 5 keywords in English. Submissions must be prepared for blind review. The author’s name, the institutional affiliation and the title’s paper must be placed in a separate file. Manuscripts must be sent as Microsoft Word file (.doc or .rtf) to:

Instructions for authors:

Max length:
40000 characters (including spaces) for articles (including the references) and reviews;
20000 characters (including spaces) for interviews;
10000 characters (including spaces) for specific paper review.

Submission deadline: January 20, 2018
Issue publication: June 2018


Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio - - - ISSN 2036-6728


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The works published in this journals are released under Creative Commons Licence - Attribution Non Commercial.