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Argumentative and Rhetorical Practices: strategic maneuvering with truth


Admission requirements

No specific formal requirements other than general requirements for the MA, but basic knowledge of pragmatics and/or argumentation theory is necessary.


In the pragmatics literature some version of Grice’s ‘cooperation principle’ is often presupposed. It is assumed that communication breaks down if the participants are not doing their best to make their own intention understood and to understand the other’s intention. In real life, however, we encounter many instances of communication in which the speaker does not seem to be fully cooperative in the sense that he does not want his real intention to be understood. Such forms of non-cooperative language use range from relatively innocent phenomena as ‘white lies’, humour, advertising techniques and ‘nudging’, via the use of framing devices and fallacies (that may be less or more serious), to full blown cases of lying, manipulation, propaganda and deceit.

In this course, we approach the topic of non-cooperative language use (with a focus on lying) from two perspectives. First we study the ‘Gricean’ pragmatics literature, especially (parts of) recent monographs by Meibauer (2015) and Dynel (2018). Second, we look at Pragma-Dialectical Argumentation Theory, as summed up by Van Eemeren (2010), and its concept of ‘strategic maneuvering’. After a study of the general literature in the first part, the participants each write a paper about a specific instance of non-cooperation ‘from the wild’. A discussion of these case studies constitutes the core of the second part of the course. General questions to be addressed include: is it possible to lie by implicature or by withholding information? What is the difference between lying and related concepts such as deception, manipulation and bullshit? Is strategic maneuvering a form of manipulation? Are fallacies necessarily deceptive or manipulative? To what extent does the evaluation of a strategic maneuver, or even an outright lie, depend on the context?

Course objectives

After having completed this course, you will be able to

  • explain how pragmatics and argumentation theories deal with non-cooperative language use, in particular lying and misleading;

  • analyze actual instances of non-cooperative language use using different analytical models, in particular Gricean pragmatics and pragma-dialectical argumentation theory;

  • compose a paper on this topic that could in principle be submitted to a scientific journal.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


  • The research paper is graded and needs to be minimally 5.5.

  • Oral presentations in class as well as contributions to the discussion board and to the peer review process all need to be sufficient.


Read the text above.


Only the paper can be re-taken.

Exam review

How and when a review of the written paper will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the results, a review of the written paper will have to be organised.

Reading list

All literature will be available on-line.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website


For questions related to the content of the course, please contact the lecturer, you can find their contact information by clicking on their name in the sidebar.

For questions regarding enrollment please contact the Education Administration Office Reuvensplaats
E-mail address Education Administration Office Reuvensplaats:

For questions regarding your studyprogress contact the Coordinator of Studies