Jean Wagemans is a philosopher of argument who specializes in dialectic and rhetoric. He serves as the Chair of the Department of Speech Communication, Argumentation Theory, and Rhetoric of the University of Amsterdam and is the Coordinator of the research group Language and Cognition in Argumentation (LANCAR) at the Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication (ACLC).
Wagemans is the originator of the Periodic Table of Arguments, an argument classification framework that systematizes the traditional descriptions and taxonomies of persuasive techniques and has applications in formal linguistics, argument-checking, and explainable artificial intelligence (XAI). He is involved in the RPA Human(e) AI funded Towards an Epistemological and Ethical XAI, the NWO VC funded Resistance to Metaphor, and the HORIZON 2020 funded COST action APPLY – European network for argumentation and public policy analysis, for which he also serves as the Science Communication Officer.
Wagemans co-authored the Handbook of Argumentation Theory (2014) and Argumentation and debate (in Dutch, 2014), publishes scientific articles, web content, and popularizing columns, and regularly appears in the media to talk about his research and to provide expert commentary on current affairs.
At the University of Amsterdam, Wagemans teaches courses and supervises theses at the BA, MA, and PhD level. He is a member of the editorial board of the journal Argumentation and a reviewer for Informal Logic, Argument & Computation, Journal of Argumentation in Context, and other scientific journals. Wagemans co-directed the ISSA 9th International Conference on Argumentation and was a member of the scientific panels of ECA 2, ARGAGE 2018 and 2021, DIS 3, and other conferences in the field.
August 25, 2021
Federica Russo and Jean Wagemans are teaching the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies (IIS) Honoursmodule “From fact-checking to argument-checking“. The module is available for students enrolled in the Honours Programme of the University of Amsterdam and the VU Amsterdam.
May 27, 2021
Colin Guthrie King and Jean Wagemans are teaching a course on argumentation at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Heidelberg. The course is entitled “Argumentation in the Wild” and follows the set-up of a textbook with the same title to be published by MIT Press.
November 30, 2020
Federica Russo and Jean Wagemans talk about their cooperation with MMGA. Interview by Camilla Nieman. Read it here.
February 22, 2020
Three Amsterdam philosophers and a programmer have an ambitious plan: to develop an argumentation machine that helps to recognize false reasoning from speeches by Donald Trump or Greta Thunberg, for example. Interview by Maarten van Gestel.
Read the newspaper article (in Dutch)
November 26, 2019
Federica Russo, Jean Wagemans and Federico Gobbo are finalists of the Amsterdam Science and Innovation Award 2019. They are the scientific team behind KRINO, an AI engine for causal inference and argumentation.
Read more about the KRINO project.
March 19-22, 2019
The European network for Argumentation and Public PoLicY analysis (APPLY) improves the way European citizens understand, evaluate and contribute to public decision-making on such matters of common concern as climate change or energy policies.
Jean Wagemans has been appointed as the Science Communication Manager of this COST Action.
December 9, 2017
You are invited to visit the new website about the Periodic Table of Arguments. It contains a description of the theoretical framework of the table, information on the types of arguments within the four different quadrants, and analyses of concrete examples. Please follow the link below.
October 20, 2016
Wagemans contributed to a documentary on the Dutch Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement referendum by giving his expert opinion on the role of rhetoric in the public debate preceding the referendum. The documentary was made by Misja Pekel and Judith Konijn and was broadcasted on Dutch national television.
April 27, 2016
Dutch philosopher Jean H.M. Wagemans of the University of Amsterdam presented his Periodic Table of Arguments on a conference on argumentation and rhetoric in Postira (Croatia) that was held last week. The table is an attempt to integrate philosophical (dialectical) and rhetorical accounts of the types of argument into a new standard model of argument.
Wagemans chose the Days of Ivo Škarić International Conference on Rhetoric to be the first occasion to present his Periodic Table of Arguments. “It is one of the most important and enjoyable conferences in the field. Because of the relatively small size and the great hospitality of the organizers, there is ample opportunity to discuss your findings at length with a group of top scholars”.
According to Wagemans, who has been working on the project for almost two years, the age-old antagonism between philosophy and rhetoric is reflected in the present-day field of argumentation theory: “Scholars working from a dialectical perspective tend to adhere to a strict division between reasonable arguments and fallacies. But since fallacies may be very effective, rhetoricians do not hesitate to include them in their accounts of the means of persuasion. As a result, there is a great divide between dialectical and rhetorical accounts of the types of arguments.”
Apart from narrowing the gap between philosophy and rhetoric, creating a Periodic Table of Arguments addresses another vexing problem in the field of argumentation theory. “Some scholars say that there are 63 types of arguments, others say 300, and yet others stick to only 3 different types. Now one may state that this is unproblematic since in the humanities, contrary to the situation in the sciences, it is always a positive thing to have such a wide variety of opinions. But I don’t buy that.” According to Wagemans, who studied physics and astronomy before switching to philosophy, any account of the types of argument should be based on clear and explicit theoretical starting points. “Only in this case, our elaborate analyses and evaluations of argumentative discourse can be compared to one another.”
The construction of the Periodic Table of Arguments has already generated several interesting hypotheses concerning the nature of arguments. “It appears to be the case that fallacies and several rhetorical means of persuasion can be reconstructed as second-order arguments. The periodicity of the table makes it easier to detect all kinds of differences and commonalities between the types of argument. I expect the table to generate a lot of interesting new research, not only theoretical but also empirical and computational research.”
As was pointed out by one of the attendants of the conference, the Periodic Table of Arguments may also be used for educational purposes. At the moment, Wagemans is working on a book on the table and its applications. “It sure is a lot of work, but I really enjoy writing it. The Periodic Table of Elements wasn’t created in one day either. So if you have any comments or questions, please drop me a line!”