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ERIC Number: ED550504
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 253
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2678-2845-3
Everything New Is Old Again: The American Catholic Bishops' Politics of Conscience
O'Keefe, Meaghan
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Carnegie Mellon University
Over the last ten years, American Catholic bishops have suffered a catastrophic loss of authority in the wake of sexual abuse scandals. In the midst of these scandals, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops [USCCB] has issued voting guides for presidential elections. In this dissertation, I investigate the American Catholic church's attempts to influence electoral politics while its public image has been severely compromised. This project considers the argumentative strategies used in the 2008/2012 USCCB voting guide, entitled "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship." The main rhetorical tactic adopted by the USCCB is one of repetition of key phrases and structures. This project is, therefore, organized around the analysis of three of three key phrases--"well-formed conscience," "intrinsic evil," and "the dignity of the human person"--that are deployed repeatedly throughout the voting guide. The phrases selected for this project reveal (respectively) the assumptions on the nature and role of conscience in public life, of civic responsibility in the face of wrongdoing, and human rights held by the American Catholic church. Repetition serves as a means of making arguments less visible while simultaneously stabilizing terms that are contested and I draw on the tradition of rhetorical figures in order to examine this process. While the classical tradition is quite useful when looking at certain lines of reasoning, it is less helpful when considering the particular grammatical constraints and opportunities that are specific to English. In order to examine English discourse patterns that form lines of reasoning, I supplement the classical tradition with more recent studies in linguistics in the area of formulaic language. I argue that certain kinds of formulaic language are developing into a set of "emergent" figures of argument. The examination of the particular linguistic choices and the overall rhetorical strategy of the USCCB serves as a means of understanding repetition as a valuable contemporary rhetorical resource. In broader terms, this project is a useful case study of how issues of authority are negotiated by a traditional institution in the rhetorical arena of contemporary American political discourse. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A