- The strategic use of argumentation from example in plenary debates in the European Parliament
- Volume | Issue number
- 7 | 1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication (ACLC)
Examples or exemplary cases may perform an important role in parliamentary
debates. Members of Parliament make use of examples, not only to elucidate complex
policies or to illustrate proposed legislation, but also to justify policies and legislation.
It may, however, be difficult to determine if an example or an exemplary case that has
been brought forward in a parliamentary debate has an argumentative function or
not. Members of parliament, being experienced debaters, appear to be aware of this
difficulty. They may even try to profit from a possible rhetorical advantage of this
problematic distinction, while at the same time attempting to act as reasonable participants
in the debate. Apart from that, they may also strive for an optimal rhetorical
result in the actual choice of an example.
As a framework for the analysis of the strategic use of examples in parliamentary
debates, I shall make use of van Eemeren and Houtlosser’s (1999, 2002) concept of
strategic manoeuvring, by which they mean the attempt by the parties engaged in
argumentative discourse "to meet their dialectical obligations without sacrificing their
rhetorical aims." In this contribution the focus will be on strategic manoeuvring as it
manifests itself in the institutional setting of the European parliament.