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Rhetoric, Argumentative and Divine

Richard Whately and His Discursive Project of the 1820s


Erkki Patokorpi

Richard Whately (1787-1863), Archbishop of Dublin, was a moralist, philosopher, theologian, logician, rhetorician and Oxford professor of political economy. His treatises on logic and rhetoric dominated the college and university curricula for decades in 19th-century Britain and America. He is the most important early writer on what is now called the theory of argumentation. This sharp and original thinker was a very prominent figure in his own time, and often knowing Whately is knowing what men like J. S. Mill, Whewell, Bentham and Hamultin were arguing against. The present text gives a comprehensive account of Whately's thinking and shows that his early writings form a rich discursive project whose main elements are a relativist theory of knowledge, a presentation of the Christian ethics of duty, and a normative theory of discourse ethics.
Contents: Intellectual biography of Whately - Whately's logic - Whately's rhetoric - Whately's epistemology and discursive project seen from the perspective of his theology, ethics and politics.