The topic of this paper is the rhetorical notion of diabole: a charge that attempts to cast the opponent in a negative light in order to create a negative prejudice in the audience. It is a rhetorical strategy similar to what is currently called a “character assassination” (in Italian “macchina del fango”), a strategy aimed at discrediting and vilifying the adversary using any means. Therefore, it is a phenomenon that involves the important question concerning the role of ethos in the persuasive process. The paper focuses on a particularly insidious aspect of diabole: its use as a form of counterattack. This means that diabole can be dangerous not only when it is used to discredit or vilify the opponent before the audience but also when it is evoked in a defensive strategy, when one claims to be the victim of a diabole. Indeed, this second use could be nothing but a clever move to avoid responding to allegations. The paper shows that it is difficult, if not impossible, to find a conclusive criterion to distinguish a priori a simple accusation from a diabole. This difficulty represents a serious challenge to the predominance of the normative point of view in current argumentation theory.
|Number of pages||19|
|Publication status||Published - 2014|