The Morality of Spin: Virtue and Vice in Political Rhetoric and the Christian Right

Overview

The Morality of Spinexploresthe ethics of political rhetoric crafted to persuade and possibly manipulate potential voters. Based on extensive insider interviews with leaders of Focus on the Family, one of the most powerful Christian right organizations inAmerica, Nathaniel Klemp asks whether the tactic of tailoring a message to a particular audience is politically legitimate or amounts to democratic malpractice. Klemp’s nuanced assessment, highlighting both democratic vices and virtues of the political rhetoric, ...

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The Morality of Spin: Virtue and Vice in Political Rhetoric and the Christian Right

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Overview

The Morality of Spinexploresthe ethics of political rhetoric crafted to persuade and possibly manipulate potential voters. Based on extensive insider interviews with leaders of Focus on the Family, one of the most powerful Christian right organizations inAmerica, Nathaniel Klemp asks whether the tactic of tailoring a message to a particular audience is politically legitimate or amounts to democratic malpractice. Klemp’s nuanced assessment, highlighting both democratic vices and virtues of the political rhetoric, provides a welcome contribution to recent scholarship on deliberative democracy, rhetoric, and the growing empirical literature on the American Christian right.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
Klemp (Pepperdine Univ.) examines the place of rhetoric in a free society marked by popular sovereignty. Noting that the merits of rhetoric in politics has been a hotly contested topic within the realm of political theory since the days of Plato and Aristotle, Klemp astutely points out that this very important question has received very little attention at the real-world level of actual boots-on-the-ground politics. In this work, Klemp joins these two approaches, and he does it very well. Building off the work of Plato, Aristotle, John Stuart Mill, and more heavily from the work of John Rawls and Jürgen Habermas, Klemp breaks down rhetoric into three categories—"deliberative persuasion," "strategic persuasion," and "manipulation" and proceeds to examine the moral qualities of each of these categories. After establishing his theoretical foundations, Klemp moves into real-world politics and examines the implications of the various types of rhetoric in different contextual environments using case studies of three Christian Right groups. This is a very strong piece of work. Summing Up: Highly recommended.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442210523
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/1/2012
  • Pages: 210
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Nathaniel J. Klemp is an assistant professor of political science and philosophy at Pepperdine University. Klemp is also the founder of LifeBeyondLogic.com, a social media-based blog on practical philosophy.

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Table of Contents

Abstract Introduction PART 1: Existing Accounts Chapter 1: Deliberative Democracy and Political Rhetoric: Rawls and Habermas on Rhetoric’s Moral Status PART 2: The Moral Qualities of Rhetorical Speech Chapter 2: When Rhetoric Turns Manipulative: Disentangling Persuasion and Manipulation Chapter 3: From Theoretical to Actual Manipulation: The Christian Right’s Two Tiered Rhetoric PART 3: The Moral Qualities of Rhetorical Context Chapter 4: Contextualizing Rhetoric: From Contestatory to One-Sided Information Spaces Chapter 5: Counter Cultural Christian Enclaves: Focus on the Family’s Anti-Contestatory Practices Conclusion

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