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Questioning the Self-Evident: A Rhetorical Psychological Approach to Reflections, Judgments, and Justifications of Organisational Decisions
Stockholm University.
1999 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This doctoral thesis presents a rhetorical psychological approach to study mental actions. The approach is based on the assumptions of the historical and situational nature of thinking and judgements. When expressing thoughts, opinions, and judgments language is used as a tool for action. Organisational judgments are assumed to be characterised by the principles, facts, and values regarded as self-evident in the milieu where the action takes place. However, a rhetorical approach does not expect judgments and decisions to be similar across situations and time in order to be reasonable. A course of action that is usual is not necessarily more reasonable than a course of action that is rare. The self-evidence of existing values and truths can always be questioned by a single individual. This thesis discusses how these claims can be applied to empirical data, and suggests how rhetoric can be applied as an approach and a tool in research. The solution was applied to analyse the reasoning in two projects. The former project deals with claims and reflections from experienced persons within the field of innovations concerning the innovative and evaluative work. Concrete claims presented as self-evident were questioned by looking for incompatible claims. In classification shared features were looked for. Sometimes the participants had a one-sided approach to a shared issue and sometimes a complementary approach.The latter project deals with rhetorical analysis of the justifications of decisions in peer review protocols of research applications in psychology at the Swedish Council for Research in Humanities and Social Sciences (HSFR) between 1988 and 1993. The peers usually focused on some (and not all) specific aspects of the evaluated applications. Sometimes the peers applied the same specific aspects to applications of different nature. The evaluative work and criteria within the two fields were discussed against the background of different definitions of just treatment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Stockholm University , 1999. , 205 p.
Keyword [en]
Rhetorical psychology, reasonable, complementary loci, change
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-63380ISBN: 91-7153-869-0OAI: diva2:448602
Public defence
1999-02-26, 14:00
Available from: 2011-10-17 Created: 2011-10-17 Last updated: 2011-10-17Bibliographically approved

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