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IM: 9781891136351
309 pages
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Understanding and Shaping Arguments

fifth edition

James A. Herrick
Hope College

Clear thinking, critical listening, and careful analysis are vital to democratic discourse and to our civic, professional, and personal lives—in the arguments we make in face-to-face conversation as well as those we encounter in the mass media, social media, blogs, and Twitter.

This highly regarded textbook explores the skills that active citizens and professionals need to make and evaluate arguments effectively, with an emphasis on argument in a wide range of real-life contexts. Drawing on classical and contemporary theory and principles, Dr. Herrick explores the structure of arguments; relationships between reasons and conclusions; the criteria of evidence, validity, and definitional clarity; common types of arguments and fallacies; and issues of adapting arguments to audiences.

The new edition is updated to reflect recent theory, including expanded discussion of visual argument and evidence, and the issues that arise with the rapidly expanding use of Internet resources and digital media. Throughout the book, examples have also been carefully updated to reflect current events and public concerns.


  • focus on argument in students’ own lives, from personal and professional contexts to public and civic discourse

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

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

  • an emphasis on ethics and audience-centered argument

  • examples from a wide range of contemporary issues and contexts


  • extensive updating of examples and exercises, reflecting current events, issues, and media

  • expanded discussion throughout of Internet resources and digital literacy, including a new section on public discourse in our era of social media, blogs, and Twitter (Chapter 3)

  • expanded discussion of visual evidence (Chapter 6) and visual arguments (Chapter 17)

  • expanded discussion of practical debate concepts and skills (Appendix A)

  • conversion of audience and analysis and policy debate chapters to appendixes for greater classroom flexibility


  • recommended web sites at the end of each chapter, providing additional resources for students

  • abundant exercises following each chapter

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

  • epigrams, pull quotes, figures, and photos highlighting salient points and adding visual interest

  • photographs illustrating visual argument and evidence, and underscoring the pervasive role of argument in contemporary life

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


“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

"The revisions are excellent. I appreciate the updated examples and treatment of the Internet as a tool."
Treva Hodges
Indiana University Southeast


"I particularly like the book’s tools for analyzing argument. I find students dog-ear this section as much as they do the fallacy chapter, and I refer to it constantly so that the students don’t fall back on their previous habit of forming their opinions without thinking about why they hold those opinions.”
Carroll Nardone
Sam Houston State University

“It’s crisply written, brief, and well suited for classroom discussion.”
Philip Voight
Gustavus Adolphus College

“It’s a great book. It has suited my needs exceptionally well.”
Beth Brunk-Chavez
University of Texas at El Paso

“Major strengths include the scanning and diagramming material.”
Fred Sternhagen
Concordia College, Moorhead

"This building-block process helps the students assimilate new cognitive processes more easily.”
M. I. Lauer
Western Illinois University

"Direct, easy to read; explains without overexplaining. Good examples."
Debra L. Hoover
Tiffin University

“Helpful exercises; clear writing; solid content; strong, logical organization.”
Robert Greenstreet
East Central University

“I asked my students on the course-end evaluation to rate the book and the overwhelming majority recommended using it again.”
Lisa M. Gring-Pemble
George Mason University

“Students read it—it is accessible and the chapters are an appropriate length.”
Cynthia Martin
James Madison University

“Thanks for writing it!”
Nancy Nicole Meyer
Metropolitan State College of Denver

“Students really like the book.”
Samuel Nelson
Cornell University

"Best I've found."
Randall Iden
Northwestern University


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 seven 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 in 2013.





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