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Argumentative and Rhetorical Practices


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) the monograph by Meibauer (2015). 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;

  • analyse 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.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Assessment method


  • The research paper is graded and needs to be minimally 5,5.

  • Oral presentations in class and peer review need to be sufficient.


Information will follow


Information will follow

Inspection and feedback

Information will follow

Reading list

  • Eemeren, F.H. van (2010). Strategic Maneuvering in Argumentative Discourse: Extending
Argumentation. Amsterdam/Philadelphia:
 Company. [Available as e-book in the University Library]

  • Meibauer, J. (2014). Perspectives on lying. In Lying at the semantics-pragmatics Interface. Berlin & New York: De Gruyter Mouton. [Available as e-book in the University Library]

  • Oswald, S. (2010). Pragmatics of Uncooperative and Manipulative Communication. Dissertation at Université de Neuchâtel. [Available online]


Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Onderwijsadministratie Reuvensplaats