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Pragma-dialectical analysis of rhetorical texts. The case of Barack Obama in Cairo

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Abstract

The theory of pragma-dialectics has been developed largely with respect to dialectical argumentation, with dialogue between two interlocutors as a model. Rhetorical argument is significantly different, in that it is heterogeneous, large, and non-interactive. If the tools of pragma-dialectics can also be applied to the analysis of rhetorical texts, then the potential reach of the theory is broadened considerably. This possibility is explored through examination of U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo in 2009. Special attention is given to audience commitments, standpoint analysis, and strategic maneuvering. Results suggest that pragma-dialectics can be applied to rhetorical texts, although it is not always the most efficient or productive approach. This essay originally appeared in Keeping in touch with pragma-dialectics, a festschrift to Frans van Eemeren upon his retirement (E. Feteris, B. Garssen, and F. Snoeck Henkemans, Ed.) (pp. 89–102), published in 2011. It is reprinted by permission of John Benjamins Publishing Company.
... Adopting the pragma-dialectical approach of argumentation, van Eemeren (2010) has employed the strategies of argumentation in examining the motto of the European Union "in Varietate Concordia". Mohammed and Zarefsky (2011) have used this model of analysis in examining Barak Obama speech in Cairo 2009, where they conclude that this approach helps in 'reconstructing' Obama's logic and shows how he manages to deal with multiple audiences simultaneously. ...
... Arguments emerge to manage the disagreement (Jackson and Jacobs 1980;Jacobs and Jackson 1989) as part of a complex network where distinct lines in relation to different issues crisscross and overlap (Aakhus 2002;Lewiński and Mohammed 2015). For arguers, navigating one's way into this network requires careful craft in order to keep under control the contributions that one's arguments make to the different interrelated issues present (Mohammed 2016a, b;Mohammed and Zarefsky 2011). For analysts, an important challenge when making sense of the communicative design of an argument is to determine what the different interrelated issues in the complex disagreement network actually are. ...
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Media argumentation is a powerful force in our lives. From political speeches to television commercials to war propaganda, it can effectively mobilize political action, influence the public, and market products. This book presents a new and systematic way of thinking about the influence of mass media in our lives, showing the intersection of media sources with argumentation theory, informal logic, computational theory, and theories of persuasion. Using a variety of case studies that represent arguments that typically occur in the mass media, Douglas Walton demonstrates how tools recently developed in argumentation theory can be usefully applied to the identification, analysis, and evaluation of media arguments.
Remarks by the President on a new beginning Available at http:// www. whitehouse. gov/ the_ press_ office/ Remarks_ by_ the_ President_ at_ Cairo
  • B Obama
Strategic maneuvering with argument schemes in the European parliament
  • F H Van Eemeren
  • B J Garssen