Deliberative rhetoric (sometimes, called political rhetoric, deliberative discourse, or legislative oratory) is a rhetorical genre used to convince an audience to complete or not complete an action. Deliberative rhetoric differs from deliberation in that deliberation occurs as a process (often within deliberative rhetoric) when people weigh alternative options prior to a decision such as voting. Also subject to confusion is the term deliberative democracy, a form of governmental discourse and set of institutions that prioritize public debate in the contexts of plurality, citizen access, and majority rule. Such a form often gets explained in theories of the public sphere as spaces where people can freely and openly discuss potential action.
Categories of Deliberative Rhetoric
Aristotle's Rhetoric outlines three genres, placing deliberative rhetoric alongside forensic rhetoric and epideictic discourse. Deliberative rhetoric focuses on the future. "The political orator is concerned with the future: it is about things to be done hereafter that he advises, for or against." Speakers and writers use deliberative rhetoric to make a decision regarding future goals of the people involved in the debate, or represented in government. Ultimately, the end goal of deliberative rhetoric is to come to a decision that will profit the audience in the future. It is the role of the political orator to lead the public to a beneficial outcome. A reputable political orator "aims at establishing the expediency or the harmfulness of a proposed course of action; if he urges its acceptance, he does so on the ground that it will do good; if he urges its rejection, he does so on the ground that it will do harm."
G. Thomas Goodnight organizes contemporary civil argumentation, placing deliberative discourse within three spheres: public, technical, and private. These spheres of argument are "branches of activity—the grounds upon which arguments are built and the authorities to which arguers appeal." The personal sphere is an informal space for private arguments to take place. The technical sphere contains argumentation by professionals with a greater knowledge of the subject matter debate an argument. The public sphere is the "argument sphere that exists to handle disagreements transcending personal and technical disputes." Deliberative rhetoric works within these three spheres so that an argument is heard and then those people actively involved in the argument make a decision. Goodnight’s stance is that in each public deliberative argument, the end goal should be to determine what is best for the common good.
- "The Forest of Rhetoric". Silva Rhetoricae. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
- Aristotle. Aristotle on Rhetoric: A Theory of Civic Discourse. p. 6.
- Paleczewski, Catherine Helen, Richard Ice, and John Fritch (2012). Rhetoric in Civic Life. State College, PA: Strata Publishers. p. 108.
- Paleczewski, Catherine Helen, Richard Ice, and John Fritch (2012). Rhetoric in Civic Life. State College, PA: Strata Publishers. p. 110.