Metaphor as Argument: Rhetorical and Epistemic Advantages of Extended Metaphors

Oswald, Steve ; Rihs, Alain

In: Argumentation, 2014, vol. 28, no. 2, p. 133-159

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    This paper examines from a cognitive perspective the rhetorical and epistemic advantages that can be gained from the use of (extended) metaphors in political discourse. We defend the assumption that extended metaphors can be argumentatively exploited, and provide two arguments in support of the claim. First, considering that each instantiation of the metaphorical mapping in the text may function as a confirmation of the overall relevance of the main core mapping, we argue that extended metaphors carry self-validating claims that increase the chances of their content being accepted. Second, we show how the recognition of an extended metaphor's sophistication and relevance (on behalf of the addressee) can benefit the speaker's perceived competence (ethos). We then assess whether these two arguments measure against the dual epistemic monitoring postulated in the notion of epistemic vigilance (i.e., assessment of the source of a message and assessment of the message) and conclude that extended metaphors may fulfil the requirements of epistemic vigilance and lead to the stabilisation of a belief. We illustrate our account with an analysis of the extended metaphor of the USA as an empire found in a political pamphlet written by the Swiss politician Oskar Freysinger.