The term figure is used in syllogistic, in fallacy theory and in rhetoric with different meaning
1. Figures of the syllogism
The figures of the syllogism correspond to the different forms of the syllogism, according to the position of the middle term in the premises.
2. Fallacy of “figure of speech”
The fallacy of misleading expression is sometimes referred to as the fallacy of figure of speech.
3. Figures of Rhetoric
The figures of rhetoric are variations in the manner of signifying “which give to the discourse more grace and vivacity, luster and energy” (Littré, Figure). Dictionaries of rhetoric include entries in the field of argumentation, even though they are primarily concerned with literary rhetoric. For example, the dictionary “Gradus. The literary processes — Dictionary (Dupriez, 1984), includes the entries argument, argumentation, argument, deduction, enthymeme, epicheirema, example, induction, refutation, paralogism, premise, reasoning, sophism… These basic concepts within the field of argumentation do not belong specifically to the literary domain.
The word figure is used to cover tropes and figures of speech. Metaphor, irony metonymy and synecdoche are considered to be the “four master tropes”. The metaphor as a model has a clear argumentative function. There is correspondence between the mechanisms of metonymy and synecdoche and those that legitimize the passage from an argument to a conclusion. Moreover, irony argues from a self-evident situation.
The expression figure of speech can actually refer to any salient and recurrent form of discursive organization. This is why the enthymeme can be considered as a figure, the enthymemism, along with refutation or prolepsis. Other figures of rhetoric, from antanaclasis (S. Orientation) to analogy and interpretation correspond to well-identified argument schemes.
Other figures play a role in the construction of argumentative structures. For example, a figure of syntactic disposition, such as parallelism, can act as an analogy or antithesis indicator, S. Analogy; Antithesis.
The figures of opposition are all directly interpretable as argumentative, insofar as they correspond to various modes of presentation of the discourse vs. counter-discourse confrontation.
Without reducing each and every figure to a feature of the argumentative situation, it can be observed that the classical definition of argumentation is based on the idea that arguing constitutes an attempt to gain acceptance for a discourse (conclusion) on the basis of good reasons (argument). A clear index of such acceptance is the resumption, repetition, and development of the convincing discourse, particularly as fragments or slogans. Since to have things repeated, it is necessary to facilitate their memorization, figures of sounds and every kind of rhetorical pun can be used to that effect, and must be viewed as a feature of argumentation.