A Political Values Perspective
When policy is recognized as a contest of competing conceptions of the desirable, the role of persuasion in public policy debate becomes clear. Evidence is used strategically by policy actors in furthering their values goals and by policy makers in persuading citizens that they have made the correct choices, both in values terms and procedurally. The importance of language in policy debate has a venerable history dating back to Aristotle and his contemporaries who considered rhetorical deliberation as the essence of democracy. Interest in rhetoric waned with the Enlightenment but over the past fifty years or so, there has been renewed interest in the importance of rhetoric, framing and persuasion in politics and policy. These perspectives recognize that policy problems and their solutions are rhetorically constructed in order to promote particular values positions, just as individuals construct their positions argumentatively in everyday conversation.
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