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Legitimising assertions and the logico-rhetorical module: evidence and epistemic vigilance in media discourse on immigration

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>12/2011
<mark>Journal</mark>Discourse Studies
Issue number6
Volume13
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)751-769
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Critical Discourse Analysis has recently begun to consider the implications of research in Evolutionary Psychology for political communication. At least three positions have been taken: (i) that this research requires Critical Discourse Analysis to re-examine and defend some of its foundational assumptions (Chilton 2005); (ii) that this research provides a useful explanatory framework for Critical Discourse Analysis in which questions can be addressed why might speakers pursue particular discursive strategies and why they might be so persuasive (Hart 2010); and (iii) that findings bare little or no relevance for Critical Discourse Analysis (Wodak 2006). In this paper, I take up the first two of these positions and in doing so, of course, implicitly disagree with the third. I consider the positions in (i) and (ii), then, specifically in relation to Sperber's (2000, 2001) notion of a ‘logico-rhetorical' module. Taking the argument which Chilton makes concerning this module one stage further, I suggest that the logico-rhetorical module evolved as much for persuasion as it did for vigilance. I further suggest that the semantic category of evidentiality operationalised in media discourse is intended to satisfy the conditions of acceptance laid down by the logico-rhetorical module. I show how this semantic category therefore performs a legitimising function in media discourse on immigration.