This text presents the New Theory of Argumentation, popularly known as the New Rhetoric, as an innovative theoretical and methodological system which is expected to become increasingly important. Two factors determine the importance of this philosophy: (1) The collapse of all modern ideologies, many sociopolitical systems and their associated philosophies, whether of the right or the left, means that the era of the quick, dogmatic perception of how to force people to feel free and happy is over. (2) New forms and institutions of social and economic life must be found among the wreckage. The solutions sought must work best for the greatest number of people and must be flexible enough to allow the reinterpretation of all our determinations, from the very beginning. The New Rhetoric rejects all absolutist and dogmatic ideas. But neither does it support absolute relativism. lt constitutes a method for the endless search for truthful explanations and for enlightened practical activity. Truth is only the process of approaching it. While critical of formal logic, the New Rhetoric develops the concepts of "other", "experimental", "flexible" and "logic of good sense".
The introduction and elaboration of the concept of "reasonableness" is presented as a milestone in the evolution of scientific methodology. The New Rhetoric has overcome the traditional contradictions between logic, rationalism and dialectic and has laid new foundations for a modern theory of morality, law, legal interpretation, and human rights. This book discusses such problems as: new moral notions; the new dilemma of Cain; the spurious notions of "centrism"; Antigone's new arguments; "argumentation is not bargaining"; and new foundations of tolerance and justice. It ends with a section on "Resolutions for the New Century", written in the spirit of traditional enlightenment, rule of reason and humanism, but which goes beyond them.