Negative campaigning: The argumentative potential of attacks in political election campaigns

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This paper develops an argumentative perspective on attacks in political election campaigns. The perspective highlights the role that attack ads play in the justification of vote claims aiming to advance our understanding of the notorious practice and to bring about a nuanced assessment of its benefits and risks. In the examination, special attention is paid to the argumentative potential that links a certain criticism of an adversary to the defense of the negative vote against the adversary as well as to the defense of the positive vote claim in favor of a campaign’s candidate. Considering the argumentative potential is especially beneficial for capturing the role of attacks in important political processes, including accountability and the stimulation of an informed public political participation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-109
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Argumentation in Context
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2022


  • Accountability
  • Argumentation structure
  • Argumentative potential
  • Attack ads
  • Criticism
  • Negative campaigning


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