, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 463–483 | Cite as

A Normative Pragmatic Theory of Exhorting

  • Fred J. Kauffeld
  • Beth InnocentiEmail author


We submit a normative pragmatic theory of exhorting—an account of conceptually necessary and potentially efficacious components of a coherent strategy for securing a sympathetic hearing for efforts to urge and inspire addressees to act on high-minded principles. Based on a Gricean analysis of utterance-meaning, we argue that the concept of exhorting comprises making statements openly urging addressees to perform some high-minded, principled course of action; openly intending to inspire addressees to act on the principles; and intending that addressees’ recognition of the intentions to urge and inspire creates reasons for addressees to grant a sympathetic hearing to what the speaker has to say. We show that the theory accounts for the design of Abraham Lincoln’s Cooper Union address. By doing so we add to the inventory of reasons why social actors make arguments, continue a line of research showing the relationship of arguing to master speech acts, and show that making arguments can be an effective strategy for inspiring principled action.


Exhorting Normative pragmatic theory Grice Speech act theory Lincoln’s Cooper Union address 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Communication Studies DepartmentEdgewood CollegeMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Communication Studies DepartmentUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA

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