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

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>12/2011
<mark>Journal</mark>Discourse Studies
Issue number6
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)751-769
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


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.