Ad Hominem in Argumentation: A Case of the Namibian Parliamentary Discourse

Ad Hominem in Argumentation: A Case of the Namibian Parliamentary Discourse

Justina Latenda Amakali (University of Namibia, Namibia), Jairos Kangira (University of Namibia, Namibia) and Beatrice Ekanjume-Ilongo (National University of Lesotho, Lesotho)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8094-2.ch004

Abstract

Emotional arguments (ad hominem) are messages directed to attacking a person, sidestepping the logical argument. In parliament, members of Parliament (MPs) use emotional arguments and language to influence their opponent or audience attitudes and behavior. While it may be argued that ad hominem attacks are effective in argumentation, it is also observed that they might have a bad effect on either the speaker or the audience. This chapter demonstrates how some MPs used stylistic devices such as anti-thesis, sarcasm, provocation, rhetorical questions and invectives to appeal to the recipients' emotions. Relying on MPs' speeches found in the Hansard of the Namibian Parliament, the authors show that although ad hominem in parliamentary debates brought some bad feelings to the recipients, they were generally intended for positive effects of winning arguments. These findings are essential in distinguishing the positive and negative influences that stylistic devices have on the audiences of parliament through different forms of ad hominem.
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The Namibian Parliament

The Namibian Parliament is the law-making body of Namibia’s legislature. It was established in 1913 during the German colonial rule. It comprises two chambers, the National Assembly (lower chamber) and the National Council (higher chamber). The duty of the National Council members is to advise the National Assembly members with regards to the bills passed. The duty of the National Assembly is to make laws. This study focuses on the National Assembly (lower chamber). The National Assembly consists of 96 voting members, who are elected for a term of five years on the basis of proportional representation, and eight non-voting members of which the President appointed, which sums up to 104 members. The Namibian Parliament uses English as the official language. However, Article 3 of the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia states that “nothing contained in Sub-Article (1) hereof shall preclude legislation by Parliament which permits the use of a language other than English for legislative, administrative and judicial purposes in regions or areas where such other language or languages are spoken by a substantial component of the population” (p. 3).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Persuasion: The act of making people believe one’s convictions.

Ad Hominem: An attack directed at someone’s character instead of the argument.

Invective: An insulting and offensive language.

Sarcasm: A remark used as a praise but actually mocks someone.

Parliamentary Discourse: A discourse that targets an audience that deliberates decisions.

Rhetorical Question: A question which often does not need an answer but intended to inform.

Provocation: An utterance or action that makes someone annoyed especially an intentional one.

Antithesis: A statement that puts two opposing ideas together to show balance.

Stylistic Devices: Different kinds of techniques used to give auxiliary meaning or ideas.

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