Manipulation, discourse analysis and cognitive science: methodological perspectives Louis de Saussure University of Geneva...
Manipulation: issues <ul><li>Semantic complexity, conceptual vagueness </li></ul><ul><li>Etymological meaning / metaphoric...
Manipulative  discourse  : hypotheses <ul><li>MD is  not a discourse type  according to pure linguistic criteria. </li></u...
An  a priori  definition <ul><li>MD is a discourse that is produced to persuade the addressee of a set of propositions P1…...
P and truth <ul><li>The main characteristic of P is the discrepancy of P with its objective truth-conditional value or wit...
Manipulators, liars and   psychotics <ul><li>The manipulator is  not a psychotic :  He knows that P is not, or may not be,...
Px as a moral statement <ul><li>When P is a moral statement (or equivalent, as a desired state of the world and of the soc...
Cultural and moral checking <ul><li>The proposition P is then evaluated with regard to the  moral culture  of the concerne...
Evaluation of P Consistency of P with states of affairs assumed to be true Consistency of P with states of affairs assumed...
Local and global means <ul><li>Local means  (about processing of a given utterrance or discourse) </li></ul><ul><li>Global...
Linguistic local strategies:  some cases <ul><li>Rhetorical devices, syntactic-semantic features </li></ul><ul><li>Connota...
<ul><li>Attitude </li></ul><ul><li>Prosodic features </li></ul><ul><li>Appeal to emotion </li></ul><ul><li>Typeface and la...
Linguistic global strategies <ul><li>Spreading and repetition of specific words </li></ul><ul><li>Generalization of a new ...
Non-linguistic global strategies <ul><li>Group pressure </li></ul><ul><li>Power and punishment </li></ul><ul><li>Construct...
<ul><li>Fuzziness creates trouble (a  double-bind  and an  assumption about self incompetence ). </li></ul><ul><li>The onl...
The manipulative intention <ul><li>The central way to avoid identification of the manipulative intention resides in the  g...
Not everybody... <ul><li>… is manipulation sensitive. It  needs  to be accepted that the speaker is  not  an ordinary huma...
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Manipulation, discourse and cognitive science: preliminary hypotheses

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(2002). Presentation at the symposium on 'Manipulation and totalitarian ideologies in the twentieth century', Ascona (Switzerland). Louis de Saussure.

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  • I would like to present today a few insights to the problem of manipulative discourse within an approach that aims to give some compliance with cognitive science. This is a work in progress with lots of things to be further developed.
  • Every researcher approaching the field of manipulation, be it in linguistics, discourse analysis, psychology or political science, is aware of the vagueness, semantic complexity and lack of clear-cut definition for manipulation when it applies to a type of behaviour, and particularly to a type of linguistic and communicative behaviour. To manipulate is to use one’s hands to change the shape of an object or to instrumentalize an object. The softer the object, the easier the manipulation. Taken from this etymological origin, the word Manipulation is a sort of lexicalized metaphorical derivation when applying to manipulative discourse. It’s about using a certain kind of force, strength, power to achieve certain results in the addressee’s behaviour. The nature of this constraint needs to be addressed. However this is not enough, since intuitively at least, a manipulative discourse implies hidden strategies that aim to mislead the addressee in some way, since the commitment of the addressee to the discourse must be sincere or be taken for sincere while the propositions expressed are problematic in various ways. Hidden strategies are necessary because obvious and brutal force cannot gain sincere commitment, except in some very specific cases of brainwashing or “re-education”. Manipulation lacks a clear cut definition, but I wouldn’t say that the concept itself is not clear at all. To take an analogy, suggested by Wittgenstein, a country may have fuzzy or controversial borders but remains a real country. In order to address the issue of manipulation, we need, I shall say, to choose an axiomatic definition. I’ll come back on this in a short while.
  • More problematic is the notion of manipulative discourse . Shall we say that manipulation is a discourse type , as a narration, a theatre play or a fairy tale can be though to be? If yes, we must show either that there are some linguistic forms that are found only in manipulative discourse, given that manipulative discourse has some external definition, or that manipulative discourses are sustained by a unique type of structure, for example specific argumentative structures. My first point will be to posit that manipulative discourse is not a discourse type according to pure linguistic criteria but exists as a phenomenon according to specific goals the speaker aims to achieve: it’s a type of usage of natural language / discourse. It is a pragmatic problem since this type of usage can’t be identified (only) on the basis of pure linguistic features but with regard to things like goals, intentions, and broader aspects of pragmatic processing. Identified linguistic structures and phenomena taking place in manipulative discourse are designed by the speaker, I assume, to trigger specific pragmatic processing. In other words, even if some linguistic elements are statistically pretty much used in manipulative discourse, these linguistic elements / structures aim to act on the pragmatic level, in order to affect the mental state of the hearer in a certain way. Manipulation is not about using metaphors or some syntactic structure X, but about making them play a particular role at the pragmatic level.
  • Since I’m using the hypothetical-deductive methodology, I need first to posit an a priori definition, an axiomatic definition for MD. I fully assume a slight reductionism with regard to the intuitive notion of manipulation, which is, as we all know, very fuzzy. MD is a discourse that is produced in order to persuade the addressee of a set of propositions P1…Pn of a certain type with specific means M. Px, in turn, has a certain number of characteristics, notably on the truth-conditional and truth-functional levels of interpretation, that must be fully added to the definition of MD. Similarly, and with regard to these characteristics, some specific means M must be used to achieve the intended goal of manipulative persuasion.
  • Since the nature, or the specificity, of a proposition P conveyed by a manipulative discourse, is fully part of the definition of what I call here a manipulative discourse, I need to detail further this point. I rely here on numerous studies that have pointed out that totalitarian ideologies, and in particular, ideological discourses within totalitarianism, imply crucially the commitment of the addressee to ideas that do not comply with reality. Since I’m on the realist side, this is my starting point. The main characteristic of P is the discrepancy of P with its objective truth value or with the truth of intended truth-functional inferences normally drawn by the addressee when interpreting the current utterance. What I’m saying here is that, in Gricean terms, it would seem that the maxim of quality is not respected by the speaker, either on the side of what is said, or on the side of what is implicated. Within my usual framework, Sperber &amp; Wilson’s RT, either P is presumed to be true while it’s not (which makes P a lie if the speaker is aware of that) or P is true while contextual features lead the addressee to enrich the meaning of the utterance in derivating implicatures that are presumed to be true but which are false (I assume here that presuppositions are specific implicatures). Of course, this is certainly a prototypical case of manipulation, since the retrieval of implicated information, including presuppositions in particular, are less, or even not, subject to truth or likeliness evaluation. They are however derived truth-functionally since they are grounded on a truth-conditional sentence / utterance, even though they are not, or not always, in the truth-conditional meaning of the utterance.
  • Now it might possibly be argued that the manipulator is not always aware that the propositions he conveys do not comply with reality. Sometimes, the manipulator actually believes, in some way, in the truth of P, for example if he has been himself persuaded with manipulative means, or, in the case where he’s the origin of P, if he is not aware of the reality , or if he’s aware of it but nevertheless does not “want” to entertain beliefs consistent with the facts. This is a very complex question. But I speculate here that a manipulator, in the most possible restraint sense of “manipulator”, is in fact always aware, at some degree, of the reality. That, as I want to claim, does not imply that the manipulator is fully or intrinsically insincere. In the case where P is known as false but believed anyway by the speaker, one might argue that there is a double-bind between rationality and a psychological trouble that leads the speaker towards believing in fantasies, as it is for some types pf psychotics. However, the manipulator is not a psychotic in that sense, since the psychotic is not consciously aware of the discrepancy, or possible discrepancy, of his representations with reality. It appears that we can’t follow the line of thought that a manipulative discourse is simply based on the violation of the gricean maxim of quality: there is a complexity that lies behind the production of a manipulative discourse that cannot be captured this way. If he believes in P, then he’s sincere, and that, even if he’s aware that the reality is inconsistent, to some extent, with his beliefs. This is certainly a psychosis, but too complex for me to address now. It has links, of course, with entertaining beliefs that promote one’s ego, one’s positive self-image. More down-to-earth, I would say that the manipulator considers more important to be admired and inpowered than any need for compliance of his beliefs with reality. This is the tragedy of anti-realism, combined with vanity. And more generally, a manipulator is much more than just a liar. The manipulator aims, among other things, to produce dogmas that will provide an axiomatic in the reasoning device of the manipulated. There are good grounds to suppose that the manipulator is always aware of the partial or total falsity of the propositions he wants to be manifest to the hearer, or is aware of the fact that an observation of reality might very well prove that falsity (and that’s why a manipulator doesn’t want to take into consideration all the necessary parameters). That explains also censorship and repression against intellectuals. What we are touching here is the complexity of that type of manipulator who knows about reality but is involved in self persuasion as well as persuasion of others. What I want to say is about the fact that the aim of a manipulator, whatever he himself does believe and regardless of his particular psychological condition, is to convince the addressee of a proposition that should be normally ruled out by normal information processing and reality and likeliness checking. The manipulator short-circuits the process of reality checking and troubles normal information processing. How he does achieve that is all about the means M that I want to address shortly.
  • But before I come to the means, I need to go further into the nature of the propositions conveyed by a manipulative discourse. Quite often, an utterance within a MD is not a simple truth-conditional statement. We find very often utterances that are not about states of affairs but about moral issues and principles. Such utterances are not confronted with the addresses’ conceptual representations but with the addresses’ values, moral values and culturally-sensitive representations. In other words, these propositions deal with representations of desirable states of affairs and not with actual states of affairs. However, the mechanisms of manipulation with such propositions are very similar, except that P is not evaluated in its truth but in its acceptability with regard to the ethical values and background of the addressee. I will say that [read slide]. I think that this type of manipulation is another prototypical case of manipulation, even, maybe, the most efficient one. While reality can be ultimately checked, moral values are not stable.
  • This leads to another hypothesis that totalitarian ideological manipulative discourse is efficient mostly in societies where some conditions are met, in particular crisis. Economical recession, war, post-war situations, for example, are of course factors that favour less stable moral judgement for the individuals and then open the way for a change in moral values. The fact is that when a society or system has not been able to provide appropriate quality of life and of human relations, individuals are likely to conclude that the overall values that ground that particular society or system are not appropriate. Here comes the moral doubt and the will of change for whatever seems more promising. Now, when I speak of moral values, I should probably be talking of social values, that are of course grounded on deeper moral values. If social values, for example the commitment to democracy, equality and right are weak, other and contradictory propositions, suggested or presented as more reliable and promising than these weak beliefs, will operate an efficient change in the addresses’ cognitive environment that will allow for the development of new beliefs. Assumptions are always having a certain degree of certainty, a certain strength. For example, an individual may believe strongly that Rome is the capital of Italy, but believe weakly that Tegucigalpa is the capital of Honduras, for example if he vaguely remembers having read something like that somewhere some time ago. The same applies to moral statements. For example, a belief like killing is bad is generally stronger than a belief like stealing one Euro to a millionaire is bad. When the proposition is of moral meaning or has moral implications, it is evaluated with regard to the prevailing moral and beliefs. With a public discourse, this is taken into account by the speaker as the confrontation with the prevailing values within the culture where the ideology intends to promote itself and develop. [Read slide] However, the manipulator can also exploit some moral assumptions just as he can exploit some aspects of obvious reality. Just as he can extract and present half-truths, he can extract and exploit half-”moral”-truths, that is, only part of a moral statement, and play with that, for example in exchanging different moral assumptions in the scale of value, in order to get a moral caution for otherwise immoral actions. For example when assuming that a superior good justifies to dismiss a supposed less important good. This was the case when killing of disabled persons during the nazism was intended to achieve the alleged superior good of a pure and healthy society. All these aspects of manipulation are well documented by other speakers in this conference and I will not comment on them here.
  • We have then two types of contextual evaluation of the propositions; these evaluations are done by the hearer in order to guarantee that he or she can reasonably agree with the propositions. So. Either we evaluate whether it is reasonable, well-grounded, to assume the compliance of the supposedly intended meaning with reality, or we evaluate whether the moral consequences of the intended meaning are compatible with non truth-conditional beliefs. [Explain slide]. The first case is about the consistency of the proposition with background assumptions about reality. The second case is the consistency of the proposition with assumptions about desirable states of affairs - moral assumptions. The two types of evaluation can occur together within the process of interpretation of an utterance, for example in a combination of truth conditional propositions conveyed by the utterance and implicatures that carry moral significance. The same applies to complex sets of propositions forming arguments. In short, the manipulator acts on the very process of this evaluation. Now, the fact that the propositions within a MD are often vague and confusing is not part of the necessary characteristics of Px, since many vague statements are not at all manipulative. I will have another hypothesis about this point.
  • The means used by the manipulator in order to block truth and likeliness checking, as well as as consistency checking, are firstly linked to the necessity of blocking any possible identification of the manipulative intention of the speaker. Manipulation is a case of covertly transmitted information: it would be self-defeating that the addressee recognises the speaker’s intention that the addressee comes to a certain conclusion. But manipulation is even more: it’s about blocking one’s rational device so that certain operations about beliefs are done by the manipulator himself. I would like to consider that the means used by the manipulator are of two general kinds: local means and global means. Local means are those used to constrain the interpretation at the level of utterance processing. Global means are those used to create adequate social and psychological conditions to obtain irrational consent. Global and local means are both linguistic and non-linguistic. Linguistic local means are enough documented, so I will not come into this in much details. I would like to recall anyway briefly some of them.
  • There is a rich literature on the topic of linguistic means appearing in manipulative discourse. Most of the linguistic local strategies, which are strategies to defeat the natural rules of utterance processing, are oriented towards fuzziness in general: a fuzzy thing or thought, presented with great arrogance and authority, creates a problematic double-bind. I’ll come later to this problem of double-bind and pseudo-resolution of the double-binding. Other strategies involve presuppositional assertion, misuse of concepts, and religious / religious-like discourse.++ Rhetorical devices such as rhetorical questions are quite efficient, since such a question, for example of the type “what else can we think?” presupposes that the answer is obvious: “Nothing”. The implication that something like this “nothing” means “nothing at all” and not “nothing that I know about” is automatic and is due to general principles of conversation (gricean maxims or principle of relevance). Misuse of concepts is a problem that will be addressed in more detail by Nick Allott tomorrow. An interesting example is to be found in Le Pen’s speech when he wins the first round of the French elections. He uses for example the French archaic word “ métallos ”, which denotes a worker of the steel industry, in a sentence that could translate as “Don’t be afraid, you the humble, the excluded, the miners, the métallos ”. This word was used mostly during the industrial era and is connotative since it evokes very hard work and poverty. The interesting thing is that nobody really talks about métallos any longer, and that concept is not appropriate to the actual situation. No one, I believe, in France, can really be called that way. And I don’t talk about the miners, since practically all coal mines have been closed years ago in France. Le Pen is talking about non-existing referents; he asserts their existence by presuppositional means. Another well-known misuse of concept was in the Third Reich and in Communist societies, the words hero and heroism . The hero in this case is the person who will follow the rule of the dictator or the party and act as requested by the power in place. Killing of innocent and unarmed people has been many times called heroic . The same applies to the german kampf : the noble fight - every activity of everyday life is a kampf , a noble fight for a noble cause. These facts are nicely commented in the book of Klemperer that we all know about, lingua tertii imperii . Religious-like discourse plays a very important role, since it implies that the speaker is a God-like being, which is in christian cultures, a Saviour-like being. Everybody noticed the beginning of Le Pen’s address: “Enter in hope, be confident”. The speaker asks for faith in him instead of rational agreement. Unmotivated analogies, metaphors and vague terms, together with effects of general fuzziness, makes it complicated to decode the real information that lies behind the discourse and the real articulation between them. Thus the hearer is made less able or even unable to identify logical fallacies, half-truths, and other defects of the discourse. Fuzziness is also dedicated to give rise to the feeling of incompetence in the hearer’s mind. In other terms, the addressee is in a state of confusion.
  • Non linguistic local strategies are strategies that accompany the production of the discourse. They are elements that contribute to produce a situation where the hearer is under the lead of the manipulator. There are numerous non-linguistic local strategies, from the general attitude of the speaker to prosodic features and intonations, and to the triggering of emotional reactions. When the discourse is written, it is accompanied by pragmatic effects coming from the typeface, the organisation of text on the page, images, etc. Jürgen Wilke mentioned these constraints applying on journals and newspapers layouts.
  • Linguistic global strategies are well-known too: [read slide / mention after “specific words”: …which are connotative, viz. That carry certain presuppositions]. Specific connotative words include military terminology, that presuppose that the social individual is symbolically a soldier who doesn’t have to question the orders and who will find happiness in being in a state of submission. New words, or partially new constructions, as the well-known generalisation of the distanciation prefix ent- in German, and similar effects in Russian, are linguistic global strategies of manipulation. Unmotivated analogies, that are constructed with discourse but materialised by, for example, institutions, may also appear as linguistic global strategies of manipulation. I think about things like the links established between health, sport, youth and the army, where there is an obvious lack of motivation in the reference to the military activity. There was, under the nazi rule, one hybrid institution dealing with sport and the army as a ministry, and an obligation for students to practice something called Wehrsport (“military sport”) on Tuesdays afternoons, and there was even a brand of cigarettes called Wehrsport . These kind of things create a context where assumptions of the type « the army is a good and healthy sport » are present in the hearer’s cognitive environment, even if they are often unconscious and unreflective beliefs. I may add here the creation of acronyms and abbreviations of all kinds, the loss of personal and institutional identities through the use of identification numbers, as in soviet gulag and as in the names of schools and other institutions (think of « my kid is going to school number 22), which contributes to create a global atmosphere where depersonalisation is progressively integrated and accepted as normal. Not to quote the name of streets, towns and villages like « progress », « steel plant », « electrical power » and other ridiculous and perverse names, which affects the everyday environment of the manipulated in order to create a falsely positive image of the human being, where his existence is not only dedicated but also defined by his function, and in particular, working function, in the totalitarian society. This is another form of global alienation that acts as depersonalising the individual. This is also rather well documented.
  • Read and explain the slide.
  • But I need to develop further the question of the fuzziness of the manipulative discourse, since it is central in the manipulative process. First of all, fuzziness doesn’t lie only in vague terms, complicated sentences and overuse of metaphors. One of the most important means used within manipulative discourses is to create a global fuzziness, where even parts of the discourse that seem clear and simple lead to interpretative problems for the addressee. Simplistic arguments violating logical rules, in particular inductive, creating unmotivated generalisations, can be considered as contributing to the global fuzziness or confusion of the discourse. The addressee, when facing this kind of discourse, is troubled, since he’s cognitive ability to understand clearly enough the speaker is somehow disabled. But the manipulative discourse is impressive. First, it creates non-propositional effects on the addressee, such as emotions, that contribute to give rise to the assumption, on the addressee’s side, that the speaker is sincere. Second, the discourse is impressive because the speaker seems to manipulate easily concepts and arguments that the addressee hardly decodes and understand clearly. The addressee’s trouble is a double-bind: one the one hand, his natural ability to clearly understand is defeated (he has an assumption about his self-incompetence), and on the other hand, he’s keen to believe in the speaker, notably because of these non-propositional effects. Combined with the constant request, on the speaker’s side, to have faith in him, the addressee is lead, as far as his mental state is ready for this (see further points), to believe in the speaker’s word, since this word is ready to solve the double-bind: the speaker abandons some of his cognitive abilities for the sake of higher values presented by a discourse originating from a seemingly obvious higher intellect. This way, the addressee is in a position of dependence, moral, intellectual and psychological, towards the speaker, which, in turn, appears as a saviour, a genius, a “god-like” being. The speaker who achieves that has used a sort of power, or strengh, to force the addressee to adopt some beliefs. One more word on emotions. Quite often, the discourse is accompanied by emotional devices, prosodic and intonative in particular, but also at the level of the general attitude of the speaker and linked to the propositional contents of the utterances, for instance when the speaker speaks about concepts that call for fear and hope. The addressee perceives the speaker’s emotion, which seems just and motivated; since the addressee is belonging to a group assuming to be integrated in a common fate with the speaker, the emotion either comes to be shared by the addressee (for example fear) or a related emotion is triggered (for example when enthusiasm triggers hope).
  • One of the core problems of manipulation is the identification by the manipulated of the manipulative intention of the manipulator. How is that possible that normal humans, equipped with rational devices, stop using them when confronted to manipulative discourse? Of course, all the devices that I talked about, plus, a number of others that are described by researchers on this topic, each play an important role. But one has to ask whether cognition works normally or not normally when interpreting a manipulative discourse. One could suppose that all normal abilities are simply exploited by the manipulator. It is true that presumption of relevance, or any other cooperative principle is of course exploited. But what is strange is that when the hearer encounters a manipulative discourse with falsities and fuzziness, he does not (always) consider the discourse as irrelevant. A mix of badly articulated fuzzy propositions, to take an extreme case, cannot normally create consent, precisely because the presumption of relevance is not satisfied. Why is it the case that the hearer comes to question his own ability to find proper and rational relevance to the utterances he processes? Many devices that I needed to talk about, such as religious and god-like image of the manipulator just opens the way to a more global answer or hypothesis on the topic of manipulation and cognition. [Read first point on the slide]. Humans, when interpreting an utterance, apply a strategy which implies what we generally call mind-reading abilities. Whether this mind-reading ability is grounded on automatic and non reflective discovery of intentions or on a (partly) reflective theory of mind is not important here. What is interesting is that any theory of mind or intuitive heuristics for the discovery of intentions apply to ordinary humans: this is what may be broadly called popular psychology. But attributing intentions, and in particular, very complex sets of intentions to a God, or non-ordinary-human-being, whatever this may mean, is blocked, under the assumption that the ability of intention recovery is not applicable. Footpage Note to be inserted: Recovery of intentions is an ability that has been shown to apply to other species (quote refs). Regarding a being that is higher than an ordinary human, a God or an universal genius, the question is complex. Of course intentions have been attributed to God, and are attributed to dictators as well. But, first, these intentions are always positive (except when the God is devil-like, but this is another problem), and a manipulative intention is negative; second, attributing intentions to God / to a God-like being are always weak, precisely because of the intellectual discrepancy that is present as a premise. The statement that God’s intentions are not understandable (“Les voies du Seigneur sont impénétrables”), which is folk common sense, reflects this aspect . In a crucial way, the manipulator achieves his goals when achieving to appear God-like, which automatically triggers a form of faith on the part of the addressee.
  • Not everybody is manipulation sensitive. It needs to be accepted, sincerely accepted, that the manipulator is a god-like creature, a universal genius and that, therefore, an ordinary human has no rational “right” to operate a normal analysis and a normal cognitive processing of the manipulator’s discourse. Many people were and are not totally manipulation sensitive, except in extreme stress situations (the cases of brainwashing and torture that I evoked before). However, when the social pressure is extreme, notably because of fear, any human is oriented towards developing a discourse that complies with the manipulator’s discourse. When this lasts, many people tend to adopt, by necessity of survival, the basics of the official dogmas. Probably, religion is one of the most efficient counter-power to manipulation, since the psychological throne of an exclusive God is already occupied. This is one of the reasons for which religion is generally vigorously opposed by totalitarian regimes. In other cases, as in Islamic fundamentalism, religion is itself exploited and distorted by manipulators developing the image of conveying the word of God himself. And of course, one is much less sensitive to manipulative discourse when he’s aware of some of the central mechanisms involved. As a conclusion, it needs to be said that my description of manipulation is all about the means some speaker puts in place in order to achieve the sincere consent of the audience in problematic propositions. Wooden language is not very efficient as a manipulative device, since the emotional supporting is not present, but it may contribute to manipulate, as far as wooden language is fuzzy. But when wooden language appears really as it is, viz . a discourse without significant contents, the addressee is no more manipulated. This is why wooden language appears generally only when police and brutal pressure enforces a behaviour of submission: the discourses needs no more to be convincing. For a totalitarian regime to emerge, it is unavoidable that a significant part of the audience actually believes and supports the regime in place. Active manipulation may decrease in intensity when the regime is actually supported by armed troops. Some claim that when this comes up, the totalitarian regime is beginning self-destruction; although clear cases of this phenomenon are identified, for instance the fall of the Apartheid regime, it would probably be too strong to posit a generalisation regarding this point. Much is of course to be completed, enriched, examined and empirically validated, and, certainly, appropriately corrected. But the basis for new insights in the study of manipulation cannot ignore the new paths opened by current research in cognitive science, as other speakers in this conference will demonstrate with much more efficiency than I did.
  • Manipulation, discourse and cognitive science: preliminary hypotheses

    1. 1. Manipulation, discourse analysis and cognitive science: methodological perspectives Louis de Saussure University of Geneva Ascona, sept. 2002
    2. 2. Manipulation: issues <ul><li>Semantic complexity, conceptual vagueness </li></ul><ul><li>Etymological meaning / metaphorical derivation </li></ul><ul><li>Implications: Power and hidden strategies </li></ul><ul><li>Goals: sincere consent </li></ul>
    3. 3. Manipulative discourse : hypotheses <ul><li>MD is not a discourse type according to pure linguistic criteria. </li></ul><ul><li>MD is a type of use of language. </li></ul><ul><li>Identification of a manipulative discourse is therefore a pragmatic problem . </li></ul>
    4. 4. An a priori definition <ul><li>MD is a discourse that is produced to persuade the addressee of a set of propositions P1…Pn with specific means Ms . </li></ul><ul><ul><li>P has some precise characteristics, particularly on the truth-functional level. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ms have characteristics according to the goal of conveying the propositions P. </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. P and truth <ul><li>The main characteristic of P is the discrepancy of P with its objective truth-conditional value or with the truth of truth-functional conclusions normally drawn by the addressee. </li></ul>
    6. 6. Manipulators, liars and psychotics <ul><li>The manipulator is not a psychotic : He knows that P is not, or may not be, consistent with reality . </li></ul><ul><li>The manipulator is not (simply) a liar . He produces axioms / dogmas. </li></ul><ul><li>The manipulator short-circuits normal information processing and reality / likeliness checking. </li></ul>
    7. 7. Px as a moral statement <ul><li>When P is a moral statement (or equivalent, as a desired state of the world and of the society), then there is no truth-conditional checking but an evaluation of the acceptability of the statement with regard to the ethical values / background of the addressee. </li></ul>
    8. 8. Cultural and moral checking <ul><li>The proposition P is then evaluated with regard to the moral culture of the concerned society. </li></ul><ul><li>The moral culture C is a set of moral assumptions that sanction the acceptability of P. </li></ul><ul><li>The weaker C, the stronger P, the more successfully P is conveyed . </li></ul>
    9. 9. Evaluation of P Consistency of P with states of affairs assumed to be true Consistency of P with states of affairs assumed to be desirable And / or Consistency of P with other Prop. forming an argumentation
    10. 10. Local and global means <ul><li>Local means (about processing of a given utterrance or discourse) </li></ul><ul><li>Global means (about external factors that influence context construction) </li></ul>
    11. 11. Linguistic local strategies: some cases <ul><li>Rhetorical devices, syntactic-semantic features </li></ul><ul><li>Connotative lexical items, misuse of concepts / presuppositions and implicatures </li></ul><ul><li>Religious and religious-like concepts and imitation of religious “style” </li></ul><ul><li>Unmotivated or questionable analogies </li></ul><ul><li>Metaphor, vague terms and general fuzziness </li></ul>
    12. 12. <ul><li>Attitude </li></ul><ul><li>Prosodic features </li></ul><ul><li>Appeal to emotion </li></ul><ul><li>Typeface and layout </li></ul>Non-linguistic local strategies
    13. 13. Linguistic global strategies <ul><li>Spreading and repetition of specific words </li></ul><ul><li>Generalization of a new terminology </li></ul><ul><li>Elimination of some lexical items </li></ul><ul><li>Unmotivated or misleading analogies (again) </li></ul><ul><li>Acronyms, abbreviations, numbers </li></ul><ul><li>Naming of elements of the everyday environment </li></ul>
    14. 14. Non-linguistic global strategies <ul><li>Group pressure </li></ul><ul><li>Power and punishment </li></ul><ul><li>Construction of the god-like image of the manipulator, or of transcendent-like dogmas </li></ul>
    15. 15. <ul><li>Fuzziness creates trouble (a double-bind and an assumption about self incompetence ). </li></ul><ul><li>The only way to solve the double-bind is the belief in the manipulator’s word . </li></ul><ul><li>The manipulator appears as the saviour but is in fact forcing the addressee into a relation of intellectual, psychological and moral dependence . </li></ul>Fuzziness again
    16. 16. The manipulative intention <ul><li>The central way to avoid identification of the manipulative intention resides in the god-like image of the manipulator. </li></ul><ul><li>Cognitive assumption: humans are equipped with a mind-reading ability (theory of mind). </li></ul><ul><li>This applies normally to other humans , but cannot apply legitimately to a god-like creature . The manipulated blocks some aspects of this natural ability when interpreting the manipulator’s discourse. </li></ul>
    17. 17. Not everybody... <ul><li>… is manipulation sensitive. It needs to be accepted that the speaker is not an ordinary human being. </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge of the mechanisms of manipulation and proper analysis of discourse </li></ul>
    18. 18. Thank you for your attention
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