Lectures in Language, Culture and Communication 01.12.2022

01. Dezember 2022

01.12.2022 Fabrizio Macagno (Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal) 16:15 – 17:45 D2.2.228 Seminarraum Titel: "Preventing disagreements. The argumentative structure of common ground manipulation"


The disagreements between different parties on subject matters involving the public’s values and most uncritically accepted generalizations are normally described in philosophy and linguistics as “deep disagreements” (Fogelin, 2005). This label refers to a disagreement that cannot be rationally resolved, regardless of the evidence and acceptance thereof by the parties. However, how do deep disagreements develop? The analysis of discourses on heated topics shows how this inscrutable notion is in fact the result of argumentative strategies aimed at preventing a discussion on a specific topic, so that the actors involved do not need to acknowledge the weakness or higher acceptability (or probative force), of a position.  The analysis of discourse through the types of arguments used and the fallacies committed allows the detection of a phenomenon that lies beyond the concepts of truth and falsity – or mere false news – namely the manipulation of the common ground. Common ground is a linguistic and philosophical notion used to refer to the condition of a pragmatic presupposition: a proposition can be taken for granted when it belongs to or is not in conflict with and is retrievable from, the information that the interlocutor holds and accepts as non-controversial. By taking for granted information or evaluations that are not shared by (all) the interlocutors, the speaker is defining a common ground that has the features opposed to the ones that it needs to serve. The speaker is creating a ground that cannot be shared by a specific part of the audience, and thus limits and avoids the possibility of a dialogue – and even a disagreement. The types of fallacies and arguments allow for detecting of different ways in which the common ground is (or can be) manipulated, bringing to light distinct strategies and possible effects.  

Fabrizio Macagno is an auxiliary professor of philosophy at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal, where he teaches courses of Strategic Argumentation, Teaching philosophy, and Rhetoric of advertising. He is conducting research in the field of Argumentation and Philosophy of Language, which applies to Education, Medical communication, and Legal interpretation.

Contact: martina.berrocal@wu.ac.at

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