But you may not know that each genre of rhetoric has its own special topics. They’re the hipsters of rhetoric, the topics who were around before the other topics came along, and they apply only to their specific genre.
Really they’re not so much special as foundational—almost obvious. The special topics for each genre of rhetoric are:
– Justice / Injustice
– Good / Unworthy
– Advantageous / Disadvantageous
– Virtue / Vice
Every special topic is a dichotomy. That is, there are two paths for argumentation: positive and negative. Compromise or even finding a middle road is often a great way to defuse a hostile rhetorical situation. But keep in mind that it usually works best in deliberative rhetoric.
Once you know what genre of rhetoric you’re arguing in (or want to argue in) the central dispute will likely be related to that genre’s special topic(s). They’re at least a good place to start. That’s why special topics are important to know. And special!
Now let’s take a look at how to use them…