, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 261-286

Rhetoric and Dialectic from the Standpoint of Normative Pragmatics

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Normative pragmatics can bridge the differences between dialectical and rhetorical theories in a way that saves the central insights of both. Normative pragmatics calls attention to how the manifest strategic design of a message produces interpretive effects and interactional consequences. Argumentative analysis of messages should begin with the manifest persuasive rationale they communicate. But not all persuasive inducements should be treated as arguments. Arguments express with a special pragmatic force propositions where those propositions stand in particular inferential relations to one another. Normative pragmatics provides a framework within which varieties of propositional inference and pragmatic force may be kept straight. Normative pragmatics conceptualizes argumentative effectiveness in a way that integrates notions of rhetorical strategy and rhetorical situation with dialectical norms and procedures for reasonable deliberation. Strategic effectiveness should be seen in terms of maximizing the chances that claims and arguments will be reasonably evaluated, whether or not they are accepted. Procedural rationality should be seen in terms of adjustment to the demands of concrete circumstances. Two types of adjustment are illustrated: rhetorical strategies for framing the conditions for dialectical deliberation and rhetorical strategies for making do with limitations to dialectical deliberation.