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Emotive Language in Argumentation


  • 25 tables
  • Page extent: 301 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.53 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 401/.4
  • Dewey version: 23
  • LC Classification: BC177 .M227 2014
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Reasoning
    • Language and emotions

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9781107035980)

This book analyzes the uses of emotive language and redefinitions from pragmatic, dialectical, epistemic and rhetorical perspectives, investigating the relationship between emotions, persuasion and meaning, and focusing on the implicit dimension of the use of a word and its dialectical effects. It offers a method for evaluating the persuasive and manipulative uses of emotive language in ordinary and political discourse. Through the analysis of political speeches (including President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize address) and legal arguments, the book offers a systematic study of emotive language in argumentation, rhetoric, communication, political science and public speaking.

• Shows how uses of emotive language and persuasive definitions work as argumentation tactics in virtually every argument concerning everyday matters such as politics and law • Proposes a multidisciplinary approach to emotive language, and provides both a theoretical and practical understanding of how linguistic mechanisms work • Uses many contemporary examples and shows how they can be analyzed to reveal the special characteristics of these tactics of argumentation


1. When words are emotive; 2. The emotions in our words; 3. When words are reasoning; 4. The acts of defining; 5. What our words hide: presupposition and dark-side commitments; 6. Dialogues and commitments; 7. Metadialogues and redefinitions.


'Very often, words have emotive meanings and present certain values and assumptions as uncontroversial, thus functioning as persuasive (and potentially manipulative) instruments of everyday argumentation. However, an in-depth study of this important and potentially dangerous property of words is still lacking. Macagno and Walton fill this gap with their brilliant and exhaustive study of the relationship between words' meanings and emotions, values, definitions, presuppositions and dialogue commitments.' Manfred Kienpointner, University of Innsbruck

'Emotive language and definitions do not stand in opposition to reasoning; they are involved in virtually all cases of reasoning and argumentation about personal and public life. Macagno and Walton explain why this is so, provide a comprehensive account of how these tools are used, and offer guideposts for argument evaluation that take the role of language seriously.' David Zarefsky, Northwestern University

'Macagno and Walton demonstrate how words can be powerful in evoking emotions and how redefining them can be an act of persuasion. The book is a logico-pragmatic-rhetorical tour de force exploring how emotive meanings are intertwined with definitions, with the dynamics of presupposition, and with implicitness in argumentation. A journey well worth taking for argumentation scholars and linguists interested in evaluative language.' Andrea Rocci, University of Lugano

'This book's title understates its significance. The authors make a compelling case that all language in public argument is emotive language. Richard Weaver's metaphor that language is sermonic is surpassed with a detailed and systematic explanation of how the language of public argument is saturated with values and ideological preferences. Moreover, the authors demonstrate how the tools of logic can be used to understand and evaluate such emotive language. This book is a great leap forward for scholars of logic and argumentation.' Edward Schiappa, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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