Can I invite you to this discussion?

Discussing invitational rhetoric today in class got me thinking about how I use language to persuade others, and if my means of “persuasion” are immoral.  And after reading over the Foss and Griffin article once more, I’ve realized that invitational rhetoric is a fantastic concept…some of the time.

Invitational rhetoric attempts to change the “black-eye” that rhetoric maintains. By many, rhetoric is a nuisance, an evil, an immoral act that has the goal of persuasion and domination.  Foss and Griffin’s invitational rhetoric steps away from persuasion as a goal of rhetoric though.  Instead, it attempts to bring about 3 principles: Equality, immanent value, and self determination.  Instead of using rhetoric as a tool to persuade, the two authors feel that rhetoric should be used to strengthen the aforementioned 3 principles, along with having an audience share perspectives with the goal of learning more on a subject.  The goal is not to persuade another, but rather to learn more of a subject, hearing other perspectives and opinions to gain greater understanding.

Now, I understand where Foss and Griffin are coming from, being that the rhetoric used today is used to persuade the public, and is in my mind immoral.  And most of all, rhetoric of today is inescapable.  Turn on the TV and within 10 minutes you will get 2 straight minutes of rhetoric.  The methods of persuasion are not concerned with your opinion, your perspective, or your mindset while discussing the subject.  Instead, rhetoric of today acts to destroy your confidence, increase your reliance, and “realize” that you need the service being advertised, or the new product, or that you not only want, but need Obama as president. Today’s rhetoric does not focus on the opinions of others.  It focuses on what needs to get done.  And what needs to get done is set by a few elite members of society.  You may think you have a voice, but when going up against these companies, none of us have a chance.  So I do see where Foss and Griffin are coming from, as rhetoric is destroying the validity of opinions and confidence of citizens throughout the world.

In my opinion, I believe that everyone should be entitled to their own view on an issue, their equality.  I believe that everyone should have a right to be unique, and a right to maintain that uniqueness even when different opinions are presented; imminent value.  And I believe that individuals have a right to make their own decisions, to be self determined.  Therefore, I am completely in favor of invitational rhetoric when having intellectual discussion, when speaking to even the highest of ranked officials, and when interacting with people on the daily.  But, there is a huge issue with this concept. What if you owned the pharmacy that was trying to sell this new “miracle drug?”  What if you were the CEO that needed to sell the drug so that you could make millions, billions for your company?  Would you still use invitational rhetoric?  Would you still make sure that people have equality, immanent value and self determination when discussing the drug?   Because I know that I would never in a million years use invitational rhetoric if I could vastly benefit from using persuasive forms of rhetoric.  Because when push comes to shove, I am going to make millions off of the rhetoric that I use, no matter if the drug works or not. Am I being selfish by doing this? Of course.  Am I probably going to destroy a lot of lives as a result?  Probably.  Will I ever meet someone who is affected negatively by my drug, and see the first hand effects of my persuasion?  Nope.  Because I will be making my millions and enjoying the $30 million house I just bought in Hawaii.  So do I agree with invitational rhetoric?  Of course I do, and I am there to support it.  But, if I were on the other side of the debate, being a businessman heavily invested in rhetoric, my mind would change rather quickly.  Try telling McDonalds they need to stop using rhetoric/means of persuasion in their commercials because it’s not moral. I promise you the response: “Never email, call, text, or attempt to communicate with this company again.”

When push comes to shove, we are in it to make our buck.  And the moral route may not be the best one, but morality is thrown out the window when millions of dollars are put in the equation.  I agree with invitational rhetoric and I hope it progresses as the dominating rhetoric form.  But, give me 10 years as a lawyer, and I will be ripping the concept apart.

–          Aaron Weinstock

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