, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 399–416 | Cite as

Strategic Maneuvering through Persuasive Definitions: Implications for Dialectic and Rhetoric

  • David ZarefskyEmail author


Persuasive definitions – those that convey an attitude in the act of naming – are frequently employed in discourse and are a form of strategic maneuvering. The dynamics of persuasive definition are explored through brief case studies and an extended analysis of the use of the “war” metaphor in responding to terrorism after September 11, 2001. Examining persuasive definitions enables us to notice similarities and differences between strategic maneuvering in dialectical and in rhetorical argument, as well as differences between the role of strategic maneuvering in normatively ideal argument and in actually existing argument. This will avoid the double standard of comparing ideal dialectic with actual rhetoric, or vice versa. The results of the analysis suggest possibilities for a rapprochement between dialectical and rhetorical approaches to argumentation.


definition dialectic normative argument persuasive definition pragma-dialectics rhetoric universal audience 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Communication StudiesNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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