Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 5-10-2019


One-year Embargo

Submission Type


Degree Name



Communication and Rhetorical Studies


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Ronal Arntett

Committee Member

Janie Harden Fritz

Committee Member

Calvin Troup


Prejudice, Communication Ethics, Rhetoric, Dialogic Ethics, Dialogue


This work seeks to elaborate upon the contributions of dialogic communication ethics to a rhetorical understanding of prejudice. The aim is to address the problematic nature of ethical rhetoric apropos of dialogic communication, arguing that there are contending views in the community of memory, and that prejudice is an integral aspect of dialogic communication ethics. Drawing upon Arnett’s concept of dialogic ethics, I argue that there is need for a “dialogic turn” towards the notion of prejudice in the postmodern era. I begin by looking at Chesebro (1969), Arnett (1987), Johannesen (2001), and Arnett, Arneson and Bell (2006) to advance the concept of rhetorical prejudice which I define in terms of the hermeneutical principle of Gadamer, a path to what Arnett describes as “fundamental prejudice” that renders efficacious “the interpretive act of dialogue.” To demonstrate the significance of this concept, I provide a historical analysis of the concept of prejudice from the classical period, early Christianity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and Modernity to Postmodernity. Through the history of the notion of prejudice, the rhetoric of prejudice is explored from the perspective of dialogic ethics. Although my concern is the rhetorical implication of the concept of prejudice, my emphasis upon ethics is intended to reveal dialogue as an existential-phenomenological aspect of communication ethics necessary to the rhetorical nature of prejudice in post modernity.

The hope is that this study will help frame a dialogic communication ethics within a history of the problematic term, prejudice, with the objective of displaying the pragmatic reality that dialogic communication ethic begins not in objectivity nor in the commonality itself, but rather in the very ground of prejudice that shapes the conversation and its conventional patterns. This essay unmasks the past assumption that prejudice can and should be always eradicated. Such thinking falls prey to the modernist set of assumptions hostile to the existential reality, to use Buber’s expression, “that we walk in the modern-day light.”