Constructed general truths against specific political rivals in politicians’ Facebook posts

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Abstract

According to Aristotle, general truths are inclusive, unscientific claims regarding human nature based on a society's knowledge and values. Claims of this kind, specifically those that have become sayings and clichés, are perceived as irrefutable axioms and thus enjoy considerable rhetorical force. The paper focuses on what is termed constructed general truths – new inclusive, unscientific claims about human nature presented as if they have already been accepted. It analyzes the discursive strategies by which they are constructed in politicians' Facebook posts in two Israeli election campaigns held in 2019, and discusses their rhetorical function. It is argued that the three prime ministerial candidates in Israel in 2019 (Benjamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid) constructed new general truths by means of semantic, syntactical, grammatical and intertextual strategies, and that these seemingly general truths fulfilled rhetorical-pragmatic functions within their co-texts and contexts. Two main functions are discussed: First, to reinforce the candidates' own ethos as successful and moral leaders who behave in accordance with the morals and logic conveyed by the constructed general truths and seemingly reflect a consensus among the general public; second, to weaken the ethos of their rival/s who seemingly do/es not follow the same general truths.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-88
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Volume172
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021

Keywords

  • Constructed general truth
  • Discursive strategies
  • Election campaigning
  • Ethos
  • Politicians' Facebook posts
  • Rhetoric strategies

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