Argumentation meets adapted cognition: manipulation in media discourse on immigration

Hart, Christopher (2013) Argumentation meets adapted cognition: manipulation in media discourse on immigration. Journal of Pragmatics, 59 (B). pp. 200-209. ISSN 0378-2166

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Critical discourse analysis has focussed extensively on argumentation in anti-immigration discourse where a specific suite of argumentation strategies has been identified as constitutive of the discourse. The successful perlocutionary effects of these arguments are analysed as products of pragmatic processes based on ‘common-sense’ reasoning schemes known as topoi. In this paper, I offer an alternative explanation grounded in cognitive-evolutionary psychology. Specifically, it is shown that a number of argumentation schemes identified as recurrent in anti-immigration discourse relate to two cognitive mechanisms proposed in evolutionary psychology: the cheater detection and avoidance mechanism (Cosmides 1989) and epistemic vigilance (Sperber et al. 2010). It is further suggested that the potential perlocutionary effects of argument acts in anti-immigration discourse, in achieving sanction for discriminatory practices, may arise not as the product of intentional-inferential processes but as a function of cognitive heuristics and biases provided by these mechanisms. The impact of such arguments may therefore be best characterised in terms of manipulation rather than persuasion.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: critical discourse analysis, argumentation, manipulation, heuristics, biases, immigration, media, cheater detection and avoidance, epistemic vigilance
Subjects: L200 Politics
P300 Media studies
Q100 Linguistics
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Christopher Hart
Date Deposited: 18 Apr 2012 13:23
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2023 12:33

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