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Rhetorical Analysis Within a Pragma-Dialectical

The Case of R. J. Reynolds


Department of Speech Communication,
Argumentation Theory and Rhetoric
University of Amsterdam
Spuistraat 134
1012 VB Amsterdam
The Netherlands

ABSTRACT: The paper reacts against the strict separation between dialectical and rhetor-
ical approaches to argumentation and argues that argumentative discourse can be analyzed
and evaluated more adequately if the two are systematically combined. Such an integrated
approach makes it possible to show how the opportunities available in each of the dialec-
tical stages of a critical discussion have been used strategically to further the rhetorical aims
of the speaker or writer. The approach is illustrated with the help of an analysis of an ‘adver-
torial’ published by R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.

KEY WORDS: argumentation theory, argumentative strategy, dialectic, pragma-dialectics,



In the 1970s, inspired by Karl Popper’s critical rationalism, an approach

to argumentation was developed at the University of Amsterdam that
aimed for a sound combination of linguistic insight from the study of
language use often called ‘pragmatics’ and logical insight from the study
of critical dialogue known as philosophical ‘dialectics’ (van Eemeren and
Grootendorst, 1984). Therefore, its founders labelled this approach pragma-
dialectics. In pragma-dialectics, argumentation is viewed as a phenomenon
of verbal communication; it is studied as a mode of discourse character-
ized by the use of language for resolving a dispute.1 In the firm belief that
argumentation is a type of discourse that requires special critical atten-
tion, its quality and possible flaws are measured against criteria connected
with this purpose.
In the 1980s, a comprehensive pragma-dialectical research programme
was started. This programme was, on the one hand, based on the assump-
tion that a philosophical ideal of critical rationality must be developed, in
which a theoretical model for argumentative discourse in critical discus-
sion could be grounded. On the other hand, the programme’s point of depar-
ture was that argumentative reality has to be investigated empirically to

Argumentation 14: 293–305, 2000.

 2000 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.

achieve an accurate description of actual discourse processes and the

various factors influencing their outcome. In the analysis of argumenta-
tive discourse the normative and descriptive dimensions were to be linked
together by a methodical reconstruction of the actual discourse from the
perspective of the projected ideal of critical discussion. Only then, the prac-
tical problems of argumentative discourse as revealed in the reconstruc-
tion could be diagnosed and adequately tackled.2
Crucial to grounding the pragma-dialectical theory in the philosophical
ideal of critical rationality is a model of critical discussion. The model
provides a procedure for establishing methodically whether or not a stand-
point is defensible against doubt or criticism. It is, in fact, an analytic
description of what – public as well as private – argumentative discourse
– irrespective of the subject matter it deals with and the monologue or
dialogue form it may take – would be like if it were solely and optimally
aimed at resolving a difference of opinion (van Eemeren and Grootendorst,
1984, 1992). The orientation toward dispute resolution is not tantamount
to entertaining the philosophical ideal of aiming for consensus: it is merely
instrumental in the endeavor of critically testing the acceptability of a stand-
point by dealing in a reasonable way with all the doubts and criticisms of
a – real or imagined – antagonist (or group of antagonists), not just by
logically valid reasoning, but by taking into account all the rules for critical
The model of critical discussion specifies the resolution process, its
stages and the various types of speech act instrumental in each stage. Four
stages are distinguished: the ‘confrontation’ stage, where the difference of
opinion is defined; the ‘opening’ stage, where the starting point of the
discussion is established; the ‘argumentation’ stage, where arguments and
critical reactions are exchanged; and the ‘concluding’ stage, where the result
of the discussion is determined. At every stage, specific obstacles may arise
that are an impediment to the resolution of the difference. The pragma-
dialectical rules, which provide a definition of the general principles of
constructive argumentative discourse, are designed to prevent such obsta-
cles, traditionally known as fallacies, from arising – and to enable the
analyst to point them down.
Apart from its critical function, the model of a critical discussion
serves a heuristic goal in the reconstruction of implicit or otherwise
opaque speech acts that are relevant to a critical evaluation (van Eemeren,
Grootendorst, Jackson and Jacobs, 1993). A pragma-dialectical recon-
struction is aimed at achieving an analytic overview that provides a descrip-
tion of the difference of opinion that lies at the heart of the discourse,
the point of departure chosen in dealing with the difference, the arguments
put forward to resolve it, the argumentation schemes employed, and
the argumentation structure (van Eemeren and Grootendorst, 1992, pp.


People engaged in argumentative discourse are characteristically oriented

toward resolving a difference of opinion and may be regarded committed
to norms instrumental in achieving this purpose – maintaining certain
standards of reasonableness and expecting others to comply with the
same critical standards.3 This does, of course, not mean that they are not
interested in resolving the difference in their own favor. Their argumenta-
tive speech acts may even be assumed to be designed to achieve primarily
this effect. There is, in other words, not only a dialectical, but also a
rhetorical dimension to argumentative discourse.4
The alleged rhetorical quality of argumentative discourse does not mean
that speakers or writers are exclusively interested in getting things their
way. Even when they try as hard as they can to have their point of view
accepted, they have to maintain the image of people who play the resolu-
tion game by the rules and may be considered committed to what they have
said, presupposed or implicated. If a given move is not successful, they
cannot escape from their ‘dialectical’ responsibilities by simply saying ‘I
was only being rhetorical.’ As a rule, they will therefore at least pretend
to be primarily interested in having the difference of opinion resolved.5
The need of balancing of a resolution-minded dialectical objective with
the rhetorical objective of having one’s own position accepted can be
occasion for strategic maneuvering in which the parties seek to meet their
dialectical obligations without sacrificing their rhetorical aims. In so doing,
they attempt to exploit the opportunities afforded by the dialectical situa-
tion for steering the discourse rhetorically in the direction that best serves
their interests.



In spite of their initial close connection, since Aristotle there has been a
distinct division between rhetoric and dialectic. The conceptual frame-
work for the study of rhetoric was provided in the Rhetoric by Aristotle’s
‘argumentative’ definition of rhetoric as an ability or capacity (dynamis)
in each case to see the available means of persuasion. 6 Beside the Aris-
totelian perspective, an Isocratian tradition developed that concentrated
more on style and literary aspects. In Cicero’s De oratore these aspects
are integrated in the Aristotelian framework. Until the seventeenth century
western history of the theory of rhetoric is foremost Ciceronian; after its
rediscovery in the fifteenth century, Quintilian’s Institutio oratoria became
the major classical authority on rhetoric in education (Kennedy, 1994, pp.
158, 181).7
Dialectic was by the sophists seen as eristic, while Plato viewed dialectic

as a means of finding the truth. According to Reboul (1991), Aristotle

developed dialectic in the Topics into a system of regulated dialogues for
refuting a claim starting from concessions of the other party. In medieval
times dialectic achieved an importance at the expense of rhetoric, which
– after the study of inventio and dispositio was moved from rhetoric to
dialectic – was reduced to a doctrine of elocutio and actio. With Ramus
this development culminated in a strict separation between dialectic and
rhetoric, rhetoric being devoted exclusively to style, and dialectic being
incorporated into logic (Meerhoff, 1988).8
Although there were indeed several precursory symptoms, according to
Toulmin (1997), the division between rhetoric and dialectic did not become
‘ideologized’ before the mid-seventeenth century, when the geometrical
conception of rationality, based on the exact sciences, became the ideal
model of a reasonable exchange of ideas. This resulted in the separate
existence of two mutually isolated and incompatible paradigms. While the
Humanists still viewed argumentation as a means of resolving a differ-
ence of opinion between people in a reasonable way, with rhetoric playing
a legitimate role, in the formal paradigm of the exact sciences argumenta-
tion was equated with rational reasoning by means of formal deriviations.
As a consequence, rhetoric has within the humanities become a field for
scholars in speech communication, language and literature. With the further
formalization of logic in the nineteenth century, dialectic has become incor-
porated into logic and has, as such, almost disappeared from sight. Although
recently the dialectical approach to argumentation has been taken up again,
there is still a yawning gap between the mainly formally-oriented theo-
rists who opt for a dialectical approach and the humanist protagonists of
a rhetorical approach – to whom the dialectial approach is sometimes even
During the last decades, there has also been a remarkable revaluation
of rhetoric. Most scholars now seem to agree that the division between
rhetoric and dialectic is not as sharp as earlier envisaged and that an interest
in the use of effective persuasion techniques can very well be reconciled
with the maintanance of an ideal of reasonableness of the kind represented
by the model of critical discussion.
For that matter, there have always been authors who see some connec-
tion between rhetoric and dialectic. For Aristotle, rhetoric is the mirror
image or counterpart (antistrophos) of dialectic;10 in the Rhetoric, he assim-
ilates the opposing views of Plato and the sophists (Murphy and Katula,
1994, Ch. 2).11 For Cicero rhetoric is also disputatio in utramque partem,
speaking on both sides of an issue. In late antiquity, Boethius subsumes
rhetoric in De topicis differentiis under dialectic (Kennedy, 1994, p. 283).
According to Mack, for Boethius dialectic is more important, ‘providing
rhetoric with its basis’ (1993, p. 8, n. 19). The development of humanism
‘provoked a reconsideration of the object of dialectic and a reform
of the relationship between rhetoric and dialectic’ (1993, p. 15). In De

inventione dialectica libri tres (1479), a major contribution to humanist

argumentation theory, Agricola builds on Cicero’s view that dialectic and
rhetoric cannot be separated and incorporates the two in one theory.
Unlike Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca, who – much later – bring elements
from dialectic into rhetoric, Agricola merges elements from rhetoric into
To overcome the sharp and infertile ideological division between rhetoric
and dialectic, we view dialectic – in line with Agricola – as a theory of
argumentation in natural discourse and fit rhetorical insight into our dialec-
tical framework.13 By conceiving dialectic as discourse dialectic, we
promote a conception that differs not only from Aristotelian dialectic, but
also from formal dialectics. Theoretically, we define dialectic as ‘a method
of regimented opposition’ in verbal communication and interaction ‘that
amounts to the pragmatic application of logic, a collaborative method of
putting logic into use so as to move from conjecture and opinion to
more secure belief ’ (van Eemeren, Grootendorst, Jackson and Jacobs, 1997,
p. 214). Rhetoric we view as the theoretical study of practical persuasion
We start from the assumption that argumentation can be described within
a dialectical framework in which the parties are supposed to act in accor-
dance with a normative procedure for reasonable argumentative discourse
in order to resolve a difference of opinion and make in every stage of the
discussion the moves that are instrumentally required. The rhetorical aspect
of argumentation manifests itself in our view in the strategic attempts to
direct the resolution process effectively toward the acceptance of one’s own
position. As the word goes, effective persuasion must be disciplined by
dialectical rationality. Therefore, in our view, the dialectical starting point
comes first, albeit that we claim at the same time that this does by no means
exclude the realisation of rhetorical aims, because strategic maneuvering
does not automatically imply that the critical principles for resolving con-
flicts are abandoned. On the other hand, rhetorical strategies may even be
persuasive if they are unreasonable, but then they are in our view not
acceptable, because the quality of argumentative discourse should never
escape critical assessment.


An understanding of the role of strategic maneuvering in resolving dis-

agreements can be achieved by revealing how, in practice, the opportuni-
ties available in a certain dialectical situation are used to handle that
situation most favorably for the speaker or writer. Each stage in the reso-
lution process is characterized by a specific dialectical aim. The parties
are committed to pursue this aim, but they may also be expected to make
the moves that serve their own interests best, thus shaping the dialectical

situation to their own advantage. So, the dialectical objective of a partic-

ular discussion stage always has a rhetorical complement.
In our view, three different aspects of strategic maneuvering aimed at
realising rhetorical aims are to be distinguished: (1) making an adequate
selection from the options constituting the topical potential associated with
a particular discussion stage, (2) selecting a responsive adaptation to
audience demands in that stage, and (3) exploiting the presentational
devices appropriate for the moves made in that stage. Given a certain dif-
ference of opinion, speakers or writers then choose the material they find
easiest to handle; they choose the perspective most agreeable to the
audience; and then they present their contribution in the most effective
The topical potential associated with a particular dialectical stage can
be regarded as the set of alternative moves relevant in that stage of the
resolution process. Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca rightly emphasize that
from the very fact that certain elements are selected, ‘their importance
and pertinence to the discussion are implied’ (1969, p. 119). Apart from
endowing elements with a ‘presence,’ deliberate suppression of a move is
also a noteworthy phenomenon of choice (1969, p. 116).15
As regards choosing from the topical potential, strategic maneuvering
in the confrontation stage aims for the most effective choice among the
potential issues for discussion, restricting the ‘disagreement space’ in such
a way that the confrontation concentrates on the subject or the points the
speaker or writer finds easiest to handle. In the opening stage, strategic
maneuvering amounts to creating the most advantageous starting point,
for instance by calling to mind – or by eliciting – helpful ‘concessions’
from the other party. In the argumentation stage the speaker or writer
can, starting from the list of ‘status issues’ associated with the type of stand-
point at issue, choose strategic lines of defence or attack that involve
selecting from the available loci those that suit him or her best. In the con-
cluding stage, all efforts will be directed toward achieving the result of
the discourse desired, for instance, by pointing out the consequences of
accepting a certain complex of arguments.
For optimal rhetorical result, the moves that are made in the various
stages of the discourse must be adapted to audience demand in such a
way that they comply with the listeners’ or readership’s good sense and
preferences.16 In general, adaptation to audience demand will consist of
an attempt to create a certain amount of empathy or ‘communion’ between
the arguer and his audience. This endeavor may manifest itself in the con-
frontation stage in the avoidance of unnecessary or unsolvable contradic-
tions. As a rule, an actor’s effort in the opening stage is directed to provide
(the basis for) his argumentation with ‘the status enjoying the widest agree-
ment’ (1969, p. 179). This explains why actors often attempt to enhance
the status of personal feelings and impressions to that of widely shared
value judgements and the status of subjective values to that of facts. In

the argumentation stage, strategic adaptation to audience demand may be

achieved by quoting arguments from sources the audience respects or by
appealing to argumentative principles shared by the audience. In the con-
cluding stage, emphasizing the joint responsibility for the outcome and its
consequences often stimulates fraternization.
For optimally conveying rhetorical moves and making them have a real
effect on the listener or reader, the various presentational devices that can
be employed must be put to good use. It is not surprising that Perelman
and Olbrechts-Tyteca observe that all argumentative discourse presupposes
‘a choice consisting not only of the selection of elements to be used, but
also of the technique for their presentation’ (1969, p. 119).
Among the rhetorical figures that can serve argumentative purposes
are, of course, classical ones such as praeteritio – drawing attention to
something by saying that you will refrain from dealing with it – and the
well-known ‘rhetorical questions.’ The success of using a figure also
depends on the stage of the discourse in which it is employed. Figures such
as conciliatio – in one interpretation: adopting the opponent’s premises to
support one’s own position – can, for instance, be brought to bear in the
opening stage, when it is being determined which premises will be used
for convincing the opponent. Leff (1999) pointed in fact at a similar
example of strategic exploitation of presentational devices in President
Lincoln’s Lyceum Address when Leff discussed the use of prolepsis – the
figure of anticipating and clearing away objections.17
We say that a ‘rhetorical strategy’ is being followed if the strategic
maneuverings in the discourse systematically converge with respect to
topical potential, audience demand, and the use of presentational devices.
Rhetorical strategies in our sense are methodical designs of moves, or ‘blue-
prints,’ for influencing the result of a particular dialectical stage, or the dis-
cussion as a whole, to one’s own advantage. Rhetorical strategies manifest
themselves in a systematic, co-ordinated and simultaneous exploitation of
the opportunities afforded by the dialectical situation at hand.18


To illustrate our integrated reconstruction method, we shall give a brief

analysis of the following advertorial:19
Some surprising advice to young people from R. J. Reynolds Tobacco.
Don’t smoke.
For one thing, smoking has always been an adult custom. And even for adults, smoking
has become very controversial.
So even though we’re a tobacco company, we don’t think it’s a good idea for young
people to smoke.
Now, we know that giving this kind of advice to young people can sometimes backfire.
But if you take up smoking just to prove you’re an adult, you’re really proving just
the opposite.

Because deciding to smoke or not to smoke is something you should do when you
don’t have anything to prove.
Think it over.
After all, you may not be old enough to smoke. But you’re old enough to think.

This ad appeared in a great many American magazines during the spring

of 1984, when public attitudes toward smoking in the United States had
shifted dramatically. Part of a call for Congressional hearings to consider
further restrictions on the advertising of cigarettes was the argument that
tobacco companies were advertising to children to replace the growing
number of adult smokers who were quitting or dying. The advertorial was
one of Reynolds’ responses. Since it belonged to Reynolds’ dialectical com-
mitments to make a real effort at convincing young people that they should
not smoke, whereas Reynolds – being a tobacco company – cannot be
expected to abandon altogether its rhetorical aim of persuading people
to smoke, it may be assumed that some strategic maneuvering is going
on. The question is how the various moves are selected, adapted to the
audience, and fashioned in such a way that the colliding dialectical and
rhetorical aims are more or less reconciled.
After the introduction has created the so-called ‘surprising’ perspective
on the advertorial desired by Reynolds, the real text begins with the pro-
nouncement ‘Don’t smoke,’ the case that, viewed dialectically, is to be
defended in the text. Paradoxically, the text that follows then is pervaded
with efforts to get young people to reject rather than accept this case. We
shall show that a strategy is followed here which is aimed at achieving a
counter-productive effect in all discussion stages.
In the confrontation stage, this strategy manifests itself in the presenta-
tion of the standpoint: this is not expressed as an assertion, but as – pater-
nalistic – advice. Although Reynolds is aware that young people are usually
not inclined to accept this kind of paternalistic advice, they put it, as
bluntly as they can, in the strongest possible terms – thus accepting the
considerable risk that exactly because of this presentation the advice will
be ignored.
The argumentation stage provides another example of strategic counter-
productivity. There are indeed arguments advanced to support the stand-
point presented – viewed dialectically, what happens is therefore what
should be happening –, but there is all the same something wrong, for it
is already clear from the start that these arguments will not at all appeal
to young people. At the very least, it is more than doubtful whether con-
vention and age will be the most decisive reasons for young people to
decide not to smoke. It is more likely that to the average young person the
conventional presupposition that smoking is the privilege of adults will be
an occasion to go against that. And that smoking has become ‘controver-
sial’ makes it only more interesting to the young. The wording that is
chosen is also most effective: ‘controversial’ implies that there are valid
reasons for not smoking, but also that there are valid reasons to smoke –

in other words, that the opinions on this matter are indeed divided. Reynolds
leaves conspicuously unmentioned the readily available, much stronger and
also more obvious arguments that smoking can become an addiction and
that you can get cancer from it. The reason for this will be clear: if the
firm would commit itself to these arguments, this would leave Reynolds
with an awkward dialectical inconsistency. The health argument would
strongly undermine the credibility of the standpoint that adults should be
allowed to smoke – a standpoint that Reynolds, as a tobacco company, is,
of course, also committed to.
Thus the arguments advanced for the standpoint that young people
should not smoke are – in a perverse way – selected for their incapacity
to contribute to the defence of the – official – standpoint that young people
should not smoke. By advancing arguments that so evidently do not support
the disputed standpoint, Reynolds evokes the topos ‘If there are only bad
reasons for not doing something, then there are no good reasons for not
doing it.’ This leads the young reader to the following reconstruction of
the desired conclusion:
(1) (There are no good reasons for young people not to smoke)
1.1a–b Smoking has always been an adult custom and even for adults
smoking has become controversial
(1.1a–b′) (These are the only reasons why young people should not
(1.1a–b″) (They are bad reasons)
(1.1a–b′′′) (If there are only bad reasons for refraining from doing some-
thing, then there are no good reasons for not doing it)
It is evident that Reynolds intends to convey (1) as an implication, but has
not committed itself to (1). It is now clear why there is no need for that:
it can be left to the young readers to draw this conclusion for themselves.
Having thus ‘argued’ why young people should not smoke, Reynolds
returns – viewed analytically – to the opening stage of the discussion for
an acknowledgement of a concession: ‘We know that giving this kind of
advice to young people can sometimes backfire.’ On the face of it, the
acknowledgement is followed by reasoning aimed at preventing the dreaded
effect from occurring: ‘But if you take up smoking just to prove you’re an
adult, you’re really proving just the opposite.’ On closer inspection,
however, a different effect must be aimed for, because that warning will
not be very effective. Reynolds suggests that young people who take up
smoking only do so to prove that they are adults. Strictly speaking,
however, they say that those who take up smoking only to prove that they
are adults prove exactly the opposite. In other words, when you take up
smoking for some other reason there is no problem. Then you don’t prove
that you are not an adult. The addition of ‘just’ even allows you to take
up smoking to prove that you are an adult as long as you also have other
reasons to do so. In sum, you are almost always in the right.
The concluding stage of this implicit discussion too is a manifestation

of counter-productive strategic maneuvering. In a public information text

it would be normal – and also relevant in light of a critical discussion – to
repeat the advice not to smoke (‘So, once more, we emphatically urge you
not to smoke’). Instead, Reynolds advises the young readers to reconsider
the matter, and deliberately avoids stating the obvious conclusion of the
discussion. Moreover, the advertorial ends in fact with contradictory state-
ments. It is said that the young should think about it first, but the phrasing
‘you may not be old enough to smoke, but you’re old enough to think’
suggests that it is already clear to the young readers that they should not
smoke. What is there to think about if they have already accepted that
they are too young to smoke?
Our brief analysis of this advertorial shows that in each of the four stages
of the implicit discussion Reynolds maneuvers strategically in order to
publicly comply, on the one hand, with their commitment to keep young
people from smoking, and, on the other hand, to protect the interests of
the firm. In this specific case, however, the strategic maneuvers cannot
conceal that the rhetorical aim prevails. Although Reynolds does its utmost
to maintain in all discussion stages the image that their position is consis-
tent, the analysis makes clear that all efforts are in fact directed toward
refuting their official standpoint that young people should not smoke.


A reconstruction with the help of a dialectical method of analysis in which

the rhetorical dimension of argumentative discourse is systematically taken
into account provides insight into the strategic maneuvers carried out
to reconcile rhetorical aims with dialectical commitments. In a critical
evaluation, some of these strategic maneuvers will prove to be acceptable
while other maneuvers involve a violation of the rules for critical discus-
sion. Our analysis of Reynolds’ advertorial shows that in this text there is
no lack of such violations. Reynolds thus illustrates that seemingly smart
strategic maneuvers do not lead to an acceptable strategy if they are not at
the same time dialectically justified. This example shows, by the way, not
only that a pragma-dialectical analysis becomes stronger and more useful
when rhetorical insight is incorporated, but also that a rhetorical analysis
of argumentative discourse is more illuminating when it takes place in a
well-defined dialectical framework.

Although we restrict our use of the term argumentation to verbal attempts at convincing
others, this does not mean that we object to referring in a more metaphorical sense to ‘argu-
mentation’ in cases where a persuasion process takes wholly or partly place by using images
or other non-verbal means.
In the pragma-dialectical research programme, argumentative discourse is approached with
four basic metatheoretical, or methodological, starting points: the subject matter under inves-
tigation is to be ‘externalized’, ‘socialized’, ‘functionalized’, and ‘dialectified’.
See for some empirical confirmation of this claim van Eemeren, Grootendorst, Meuffels
and Verburg (1997). Of course, arguers may also pursue goals that are foreign to resolving
a difference – e.g. being perceived as nice or wise. But, purportedly, argumentative discourse
is always aimed at resolving a difference.
For the rhetorical, dialectical and logical perspectives on argumentation, see Wenzel
(1990). We use the words ‘rhetorical,’ ‘dialectical,’ and ‘logical’ as theoretical terms, not
as denotations of specific kinds of practices or texts.
We do not follow Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca in differentiating between dialectical
discussion as ‘a sincere quest for the truth’ and rhetorical debate in which the protagonists
‘are chiefly concerned with the triumph of their own viewpoint’ (1969, p. 38).
According to Poulakos and others, there is also a sophistic rhetoric, which is to be dis-
tinguished from Aristotelian rhetoric, but Schiappa (1991) questions the concept of a sophistic
See for the classical background of the study of rhetoric Kennedy (1994). In later years
there were a philosophically-oriented persuasion rhetoric, inspired by Aristotle and Whately,
and an elocutionary, decorative, belletristic rhetoric. As Gaonkar (1990) explains, in the
United States there is also a tradition stemming from Burke, in which the frontiers of rhetoric
are expanded from ‘persuasion’ to ‘identification-as-an-explanation-for-social-cohesion’.
According to Van Eemeren, Grootendorst, Jackson and Jacobs (1997, p. 213), modern-day
persuasion theories, ‘which are heavily oriented to analysis of attitude formation and change,’
bear little resemblance to Aristotle’s rhetoric.
According to Mack, with the foundation of the universities, dialectic became from
the thirteenth century onwards the ‘intellectually dominant part of the trivium, while
rhetoric was left with the important practical task of teaching official letter-writing’ (1993,
p. 8).
Among the dialectical theories of argumentation with a formal character are Hamblin’s
(1970) and Barth and Krabbe’s (1982) ‘formal dialectic’ (based on the dialogue logic of the
Erlangen School) and the formal approach of the fallacies by Woods and Walton (1989).
Influential functional and contextual rhetorical approaches are Perelman and Olbrechts-
Tyteca’s (1969) ‘new rhetoric’ and some well-known traditions in American speech com-
munication and philosophy (see van Eemeren et al., 1996, Ch. 7).
Reboul (1991, p. 46) observes that for antistrophos the translators ‘donnent [. . .]
tantôt “analogue”, tantôt “contrepartie” ’. He adds: ‘Antistrophos: il est gênant qu’un livre
commence avec un terme aussi obscur!’
According to Reboul, in the first chapter Aristotle wrote ‘que la rhétorique est le “rejeton”
de la dialectique, c’est à dire son application, un peu comme la médécine est une applica-
tion de la biologie. Mais ensuite, il la qualifie comme une “partie” de la dialectique’ (1991,
p. 46).
According to Mack, Agricola’s work is unlike any previous rhetoric or dialectic: ‘[He]
has selected materials from the traditional contents of both subjects’ (1993, p. 122).
In Meerhoff’s (1988, p. 273) view, ‘pour Agricola, [. . .] loin de réduire la dialectique
à la seule recherche de la vérité rationelle, il entend parler de celle-ci en termes de
See for connections between rhetoric and dialectic, among others, Mack (1993), Meerhoff
(1988), and van Eemeren and Houtlosser (1997).
According to Simons (1990), rhetoric is, most neutrally, the study and the practice of
persuasion. Kienpointner (1995, p. 453) points out that many scholars see rhetoric as ‘a rather
narrow subject dealing with the techniques of persuasion and/or stylistic devices’, but others
conceive of rhetoric as ‘a general theory of argumentation and communication’ (while still
others deny that rhetoric is a discipline at all).
How suppression of presence can be used strategically, is clearly illustrated in Edward

Kennedy’s ‘Chappaquidick speech.’ See van Eemeren, Grootendorst, Jackson, and Jacobs
(1993, pp. vii–xi), and van Eemeren and Houtlosser (1997).
Ultimately, the rationale of adaptation to audience demand is that rhetoric has to deal
with the requirements of actors in the context of social interaction, as is in fact already implied
by the pragmatic aspect of pragma-dialectics.
In Leff’s view (1999a), the figure of prolepsis serves dialectical and rhetorical functions.
Lincoln uses it strategically to create a synthesis that involves a transcendence of the posi-
tions that were taken before.
There are specific ‘confrontation strategies,’ such as ‘humptydumptying’ – defining the
difference ‘to one’s own content.’ There are also specific ‘opening strategies,’ such as ‘first
listing all the things that we do agree about.’ Well-known ‘argumentation strategies’ are
referring to a particular authority, and pointing out all kinds of undesirable consequences of
adopting the opponent’s standpoint. A notorious ‘concluding strategy’ is stressing the ‘need
for consensus,’ which can obviously not be met if the listener or reader does not accept the
speaker’s or writer’s standpoint.
This analysis is to a large extent based on van Eemeren, Grootendorst, Jackson, and
Jacobs (1997); see also van Eemeren and Houtlosser (1999).


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