Seizing the Occasion: Parameters for Analysing Ways of Strategic Manoeuvring
People who are engaged in argumentative discourse are characteristically not only out to conclude their differences of opinion their way but also oriented towards reaching this conclusion in a reasonable way: they may be regarded to be committed to norms that are instrumental in maintaining critical standards of reasonableness and to hold others committed to the same standards. This means in practice that, while being out for the optimal rhetorical result, they may at the same time be presumed to hold at every stage of the discourse to the dialectical objective of the stage concerned. In their efforts to reconcile the simultaneous pursuit of these dialectical and rhetorical objectives, and to reduce any potential tension between them, they make use of what we have termed strategic manoeuvring (van Eemeren & Houtlosser, 2002). This strategic manoeuvring takes place by exploiting concurrently the available topical potential, the opportunities for framing the addressee’s perspective and the presentational possibilities. Every move made in argumentative discourse involves strategic manoeuvring and it is dependent on various factors which strategic function a certain move can have. Analysing the strategic function of a particular way of manoeuvring therefore requires insight into the parameters that determine the strategic function a particular move may have at the point in the discourse where it is made.
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