Using Quotations: Their Argumentative Uses and Their Manipulations

  • Fabrizio Macagno
  • Douglas Walton
Part of the Perspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy & Psychology book series (PEPRPHPS, volume 14)


Quotations are selections of an Original Speaker’s words that can be used for different argumentative purposes, such as supporting a viewpoint through the authority of an expert source, or attacking the interlocutor by confronting him with his past commitments. However, quotations can be also distorted for pursuing different goals. In this chapter, we will outline the various strategies for selecting the quoted part of a speech strategically or even for distorting a quotation. We will show how quotations and misquotations can be closely related to other dialogical tactics, such as, in particular, making explicit or implicit attacks on an opposing position or even on the interlocutor himself. The various strategies of selective quotation point out how it is difficult to draw a clear line between quoting and misquoting. Any quotation is itself a selection, which can be used strategically. Some distortion is inevitable. What is crucial is to understand what “significant” distortion amounts to. We point out how this notion can be assessed by determining the conclusion the quotation is alleged to support, and the conclusion that the original utterance was aiming at backing or leading to. We explain how it is possible to evaluate distortions in quotations beginning with comparing the alleged and actual conclusions of an argument.


Quotation Pragmatics Straw man Argumentation Dialectics Commitments 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fabrizio Macagno
    • 1
  • Douglas Walton
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e HumanasUniversidade Nova de LisboaLisboaPortugal
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of WindsorWindsorCanada

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