Arguing about Muslims: (Un)Reasonable argumentation in letters to the editor

Albert Atkin*, John E. Richardson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


This article analyses letters to the editor written on or about Muslims printed in a British broadsheet newspaper. The pragma-dialectical theory of argumentation is applied as a model for explaining and understanding the arguments employed in the sampled letters. Our presentation of pragma-dialectical theory focuses on argumentative reasonableness. More specifically, we introduce the four dialectical stages through which any argument must pass and explain the ten rules of critical discussion that participants must follow throughout if they are to resolve the argument. The article focuses in particular on the letter writers' use of argument schemes - that is, the manner in which these writers use arguments to support their standpoints. We conclude by highlighting the role that unreasonable arguments can play in perpetuating racialized inequalities and hence the importance of analyzing argumentation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalText and Talk
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Argumentation
  • Broadsheet newspapers
  • Muslims
  • Pragma-dialectics
  • Readers' letters
  • Reasonableness


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