The Richness and Quality of Normative Public Argumentation

WP-LPF 1/16

WP-LPF 2016
Centro Einaudi
Articolo completo/Full text


In everyday conversations as well as in public speeches delivered by media, normative arguments, expressing ideas about what “should” or “should not” be done, thought or said, ae frequent. Normative arguments support policy proposals, defend values, affirm identities. How rich and “good” is a normative argument is actually a very relevant question in contemporary democracies, where validity claims are to be supported by arguments and not by force or violence. Also, it can be generally assumed that the more and the better a normative argument is argued for, the stronger will be its persuasive power.
Based on these assumptions and building on Stephen Toulmin’s model for the analysis of arguments, this work proposed a theoretical and empirical analysis of normative arguments with the purpose to further develop a methodology for the evaluation of their quality and richness.
Two empirical case studies are presented. The first is dedicated to public speeches on the topic of the 2008 economic crisis; the second includes political speeches concerning Islamic Terrorism. Moreover, President Obama’s speech in acceptance for the Nobel Prize for Peace (2009) is analysed in order to test the theoretical distinction between value-using arguments and value-establishing arguments as well as its usefulness to better understand the role of values within normative argumentation.