SKRIPSI Jurusan Sastra Inggris - Fakultas Sastra UM, 2006

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A Discourse Analysis on Argumentative Statements Delivered by 2004 USA Presidential Candidates in 2004 Presidential Debates

Nuans Nostal Saputri


This study aims at describing how the 2004 USA presidential candidates formulate their arguments in order to persuade their prospective voters through the 2004 presidential debates. Further, this study intends to reveal the way of the two presidential candidates provide their arguments with qualified claims, adequate data, and logical warrants. The final objective of this study is to describe the weaknesses and the strengths of the candidates’ arguments.

            This is a qualitative study. The data of this study are the whole episodes of the 2004 USA presidential debates taken from on March 2005. The modified Toulmin’s model by Hart and the criteria of recognizing argumentative elements by Zahro are utilized to recognize the argumentative elements in the candidates’ utterances. The procedure proposed by Miles and Huberman (in Susilo, 1999) is applied to analyze the data.

            The results of this study reveal that both 2004 USA presidential candidates have met three major elements required in forming a good argument. They have proposed claims equipped with sufficient justifiable reasons (data), and logical warrant though occasionally they include subjective personal opinion as reasons for their claims. There are three forms of sentences they use as claims: complete declarative sentence, direct rhetorical questions, and indirect rhetorical questions. The data supporters found in the debate transcripts are mainly facts, statistics information, testimonies and small proportion of personal prejudice. After proposing claims and providing data supporters, the candidates state the warrants explicitly and implicitly. The researcher found that the candidates’ warrants were not necessarily drawn from general principles, theorems, formula or constitutions, but rather those were drawn from the data supporters in order to build a claim.

            From the findings, several generalizations are made; first, both USA presidential candidates have delivered convincing arguments concerning with the fulfillment of claims, data supporters, and warrants as suggested by Toulmin; second, a claim has most convincing values when it is supported by statistical records, besides facts and testimonies. Regardless who won the electoral vote, from the findings, it is obviously noticeable that Kerry’s arguments are more persuasive than Bush’s because those carry more reliable data supporters and logical warrants. In addition, based on the forms of data, it can be concluded that there are three types of warrants offered by the candidates and drawn by the researcher: authoritative, motivational, and substantive. Finally, this study supports Toulmin’s model of argumentation which stated that the strengths and weaknesses of an argument, in regard to persuasive values, fully depends on the reliability of its data and the relevant warrants generalized from the data available.

            Based on the results of the study and to confirm the significance of the study, the researcher recommends that the next debaters apply the suggested argumentative elements to produce convincing arguments, and complete their arguments with statistical evidence, facts, and testimonies as Bush and Kerry do. In order to avoid imbalance claims, it is suggested that the debater utilizes less personal opinion as supports of their claims.

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