Propaganda (2) – Manipulation and Reasoning

Can there be a difference between manipulating and reasoning? Both aim at changing the opinions or actions of the audience. Is one difference that manipulation can happen through various means, such as images and music, whereas reasoning can only happen through words, written or spoken? But can words not also be used to manipulate? So what is the difference between a manipulative speech and an argument? Don’t try truth as a criterion – an argument might contain false premises, a speech may contain only truths and nevertheless be manipulative (think about the use politicians make of statistics, or the famous strict either – or distinctions that seem to leave you with no alternative but to agree with the speaker). If anything, the difference might be in the attitude taken by the speaker.  Take two speakers, S1 and S2, both convinced that what they preach is right.  S1 chooses to include only elements in her speech that she herself has been convinced by, S2 decides to include also elements she does not herself find convincing, but assumes to be convincing to others. The suggestion would be, then, that S1 reasons, while S2 manipulates. Will that do?

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