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Definitions can be thought of as premises in complex patterns of reasoning (Aarnio 1977;

Lindahl 2004; Moore 1980). Being based on ordinary words, they can be interpreted in
different fashions. This can introduce areas of ambiguity and vagueness which can be
used strategically. For instance, the arguer can introduce some technical terms without an
explicit definition, allowing the interpreter to introduce ad hoc definitions for the purpose
of justifying a classification. An extremely powerful type of redefinition is the so-called
implicit or pragmatically spurious definition (Mortara Garavelli 2001, 1516). This
type of definition, at the basis of the so-called argument by definition (Schiappa 2003,
111112, 130; Zarefsky 2006, 404), is not provided explicitly. Instead of stating or
advancing a new definition, the speaker takes it for granted by classifying a fragment of
reality, treating it as part of the interlocutors common ground. Moreover, this
classification can carry a value judgment, working as a persuasive definition
(Stevenson 1944, 210), used with the aim of securing, by the interplay between emotive
and descriptive meaning, a redirection of peoples attitude. An example of this emotive
dimension of an implicit definition is the use in public and political discourse of the
term neoliberalism. As Rajesh Venugopal (2015) pointed out, the term neoliberalism
often serves as a rhetorical tool that bundles together a proliferation of eclectic and
contradictory concepts. A term ultimately useful according to Venugopal for
caricature and dismissal rather than for analysis and deliberation.
The symposium is devoted to analyze actual examples, mostly taken from political
discourse [in Italy and Portugal?], in order to highlight the use of the term neoliberalism
as a rhetorical tool, suggesting that this kind of rhetorical device can be interpreted
precisely as a rhetorical definition.