Location

McMaster University

Document Type

Paper

Start Date

1-6-2005 9:00 AM

End Date

1-6-2005 5:00 PM

Abstract

This paper reports the preliminary results of a content analysis of the use and functions of reasonableness in the New York Times editorial page from 1860-2004. We begin by setting out several reasons why we should devote our critical attention to the concept of reasonableness. We then justify our choice of the New York Times editorial page and describe our sample and analytic method. The body of the paper reports three results. First, the primary meanings of the concept are detailed. These include prudence, rationality, fairness, and appropriateness. Second, a distinction between an epistemic and a non-epistemic function of the concept was found in both the qualitative and quantitative analysis of the data. Moreover, we found that the vast majority of the editorials employ the non-epistemic function--a fact that we argue has significant consequences for argumentation theory. Finally, we found that the topoi of reasonableness primarily concern the legitimacy of applications of social and political power. We conclude that to explicate the meanings and functions of reasonableness is to explicate the rhetoric of power in liberal democracies.

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Jun 1st, 9:00 AM Jun 1st, 5:00 PM

Political Reasonableness: A Content Analysis of the New York Times 1860-2004

McMaster University

This paper reports the preliminary results of a content analysis of the use and functions of reasonableness in the New York Times editorial page from 1860-2004. We begin by setting out several reasons why we should devote our critical attention to the concept of reasonableness. We then justify our choice of the New York Times editorial page and describe our sample and analytic method. The body of the paper reports three results. First, the primary meanings of the concept are detailed. These include prudence, rationality, fairness, and appropriateness. Second, a distinction between an epistemic and a non-epistemic function of the concept was found in both the qualitative and quantitative analysis of the data. Moreover, we found that the vast majority of the editorials employ the non-epistemic function--a fact that we argue has significant consequences for argumentation theory. Finally, we found that the topoi of reasonableness primarily concern the legitimacy of applications of social and political power. We conclude that to explicate the meanings and functions of reasonableness is to explicate the rhetoric of power in liberal democracies.