The communicative functions of metaphors between explanation and persuasion

In Fabrizio Macagno & Alessandro Capone (eds.), Inquiries in philosophical pragmatics. Theoretical developments. Cham, Switzerland: pp. 171-191 (2021)
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In the literature, the pragmatic dimension of metaphors has been clearly acknowledged. Metaphors are regarded as having different possible uses, and in particular, they are commonly viewed as instruments for pursuing persuasion. However, an analysis of the specific conversational purposes that they can be aimed at achieving in a dialogue and their adequacy thereto is still missing. In this paper, we will address this issue focusing on the distinction between the explanatory and persuasive goal. The difference between explanation and persuasion is often blurred and controversial from a theoretical point of view. Building on the analysis of explanation in different theories and fields of study, we show how it can be conceived as characterized by a cognitive and a pragmatic dimension, where the transference of understanding is used pragmatically for different dialogical goals. This theoretical proposal will be applied to examples drawn from the medical context, to show how a pragmatic approach to explanation can account for the complexity of the cases that can be found in actual dialogical contexts.



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Author Profiles

Fabrizio Macagno
Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Maria Rossi
Universidade Nova de Lisboa

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