Deliberative Oratory Topics
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The Good and The Unworthy
Deliberative oratory has been concerned with legislative bodies, and so naturally takes up the topic of what is "the good" with respect to the public. In this sense, "the good" has a distinctly social and pragmatic connotation, but it can also prompt one to consider "the good" along more generally ethical or philosophical lines. That ethical dimension is suggested by the pairing of this topic with "the unworthy," its opposite.


  While it may seem to be a practical benefit to society to license prostitutes, we cannot countenance the public approbation of something the majority clear holds to be immoral.

The Advantageous / The Disadvantageous
Deliberative oratory has been concerned with legislative bodies, and so naturally takes up the very pragmatically oriented topic of what is advantageous or not for a given society. This topic need not be restricted to its legislative origins, since advantages and disadvantages can be considered in light of any proposal, personal or social in scope. In some senses this topic is merely a greater specification of the topic of invention cause and effect or antecedent and consequence.
Do we gain an advantage for society in allowing abortion to be freely practiced when this promotes the disadvantage of sexual irresponsibility?


To outlaw abortion appears to be a moral advantage to some, but it is likely to prove a social disadvantage: illegal abortions and the problems of unwed motherhood will not be magically legislated away.

For arguments about the goood/advantageous or the unworthy/disadvantageous, Aristotle catalogues and explains conventional kinds of good or advantageous things that could be drawn upon in deliberative oratory:

  • Good Birth
  • Good and Numerous Children
  • Wealth
  • Good Reputation
  • Honor
  • Health
  • Beauty
  • Strength
  • Bodily Stature
  • Bodily Excellence
  • A Good Old Age
  • Many and Good Friendships
  • Good Luck


  • Happiness
  • Justice
  • Courage
  • Temperance
  • Magnanimity
  • Magnificence
  • Health and Beauty
  • Wealth
  • Honor and Reputation
  • Ability to Speak and Act
  • Natural Talent
  • Memory
  • Ease in Learning
  • Quickwittedness
  • Knowledge
  • Art
  • Life
  • Justice
  • The opposite of what is bad or what enemies want

These special topics are not dissimilar to those drawn upon for epideictic oratory (speeches of praise or blame)

See Also

Sources: Arist. Rhet. 1.5-6

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Gideon O. Burton, Brigham Young University
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