Chaim Perelman

In the annals of the 20th century there can be no other person who was more influential in the development in the field of rhetoric than Chaim Perelman. He is a person who looked to ancient rhetoric as a foundation for the logic that dictates the behavior of people use in creating and implementing laws in society. This is important as his work dictates to each of us the reason that governments enact and enforce certain laws in society. Anyone who is interested in philosophy is going to look to Perelman’s work so that they can gain a complete and perfect understanding of the actions that lead to the establishment of law and order.

Logical Positivism

The initial work done by Perelman was in support of the movement of logical positivism. However as he continued to analyze laws he found that most laws were based in the development of emotion. This is because value judgments need to be used in order to determine law and order. This means that there is going to be no logical way that these developments can be predicted or studied. That meant that there was a randomness to the establishment of laws that was not logical or concrete.

Ancient Rhetorical Value

Due to the inability of logical positivism to dictate law, Perelman turned to the ancient teachings of rhetoric to evaluate and try to predict the moral judgments that led to the establishment of certain legal precedents. The greatest contribution that Perelman gave was to modern argumentation tactics and developments. There was flexibility in his philosophy that the speaker to any group needed to dictate the information dispensed based on the dynamics of the audience. By controlling the information, and streamlining it to fit best to the listeners, there was a greater chance of converting the audience to be receptive to your arguments.

The value that someone reveals to an audience should also be determined by the knowledge of the makeup of that audience. By doing this, the argumentation that an orator uses is going to meet with a minimum of skepticism. Although many people are naturally skeptical, by appealing to values that they share there will be a conversion to the belief that the orator possesses.


Chaim Perelman is one of the most important and influential people in the 20th century dealing with argumentation and using rhetoric to convert listeners to the manner of thinking that you possess yourself. He changed the way that public orations was performed and understood by all people who look to form an argument in the world.