Rhetorical (ir)responsibility in the Australian Parliament: Resurrecting Aristotle’s deliberative rhetoric as means to ethical, rational, and constructive climate change debate

Simon McLaughlin*, Franzisca Weder

*Corresponding author for this work

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


In this conceptual paper, we differentiate between political decisions and the conversations where these decisions are discussed and facilitated. We complement existing work on argumentation in political communication by applying Aristotle’s Rhetoric to the study of climate change debate. We show how Aristotle’s principles for ethical and rational political speech work toward audience trust and encourage deliberative debate and decisionmaking. Our deliberative perspective is supported by a case study analysis of Australia’s parliamentary climate change debate. We resurrect Aristotle’s Rhetoric both as an analytical tool for critical analysis and a potential framework for constructive climate change debate. Following the conceptualisation of parliamentary debate as a conversational space where decision-making processes are facilitated, we introduce Aristotle’s Rhetoric and the concept of ‘rhetorical responsibility’, which is further explored and exemplified in the case study. We conclude with future research questions for discourse and political communication studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)622-639
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Language and Politics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 508006 Communication theory
  • 602041 Rhetoric


  • Aristotle’s deliberative rhetoric
  • audience conviction
  • climate change debate
  • constructive political speech
  • ethical and rational argumentation
  • political communication
  • practical reasoning

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