Affecting Argumentative Action: The Temporality of Decisive Emotion

Prins Marcus Valiant Lantz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

6 Downloads (Pure)


This paper explores the interrelations between temporality and emotion in rhetorical argumentation. It argues that in situations of uncertainty argumentation affects action via appeals that invoke emotion and thereby translate the distant past and future into the situated present. Using practical inferences, a threefold model for the interrelation of emotion and time in argumentation outlines how argumentative action depends on whether speakers provide reasons for the exigence that makes a decision necessary, the contingency of the decision, and the confidence required to act. Experiences and choices from the past influence the emotions experienced in the present and inform two intertemporal mechanisms that allow speakers and audiences to take the leap of faith that defines decision-making under uncertainty: retrospective forecasting and prospective remembering. Retrospective forecasting establishes a past–future–present link, whereas prospective remembering establishes a future-past-present link, and, together, the two mechanisms provide a situated presence that transcends the temporal constraints of uncertainty. Finally, the applicability of the model is illustrated through an analysis of a speech delivered by Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a time where the need for decisive, yet argumentative action was crucial.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)603-627
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Published online: 13 January 2021.


  • COVID-19
  • Decision-making
  • Pathos
  • Rhetorical argumentation
  • Uncertainty

Cite this