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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.


Investigating non-cooperative language use, in particular lying and misleading, from the perspective of pragmatic theories and pragma-dialectical argumentation theory.

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 the recent monograph by Meibauer (2015), about lying and manipulation. 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? 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 (specific activity type)?

Course objectives

Students acquire insight into the different ways in which pragmatics and argumentation theories deal with non-cooperative language use, in particular lying and misleading.

Students have the skills to analyze actual instances of non-cooperative language use using different analytical models, in particular Gricean pragmatics and pragma-dialectical argumentation theory.

Students learn to compose a paper that could in principle be submitted to a scientific journal.


The timetable is available on Rooster MA Neerlandistiek

Mode of instruction


Course Load

  • Total course load = 280 hours

  • Classes (12 x 3 hours) = 36 hours

  • Class preparation (12 x 8 hours) = 96 hours

  • Research and writing paper = 120 hours

  • Peer review process = 28 hours

Assessment method


  • The research paper is graded and needs to be minimal 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.


Only the paper can be re-taken.



Reading list

Eemeren, Frans van (2010). Strategic Maneuvering in Argumentative Discourse. Benjamins.
Meibauer, Jörg (2015). Lying at the Semantics-Pragmatics Interface. Mouton. (Both books are available as e-book in the library.)


Regular higher-year bachelor and master students are obliged to register ahead of time via uSis for lectures and workgroups.

For all other students applies that registration is through the co-ordinator of studies

General information about uSis is available in [English]) and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


For information about the content of this course Ronny Boogaart

For practical matters you may contact the secretarial office of the Opleiding Nederlandse Taal en Cultuur/Neerlandistiek. It is the Onderwijsadministratie P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 101A. Tel. 071 5272 2604. E-mail.