In The Spirit of Community, what is the benefit of asking rhetorical questions?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Amitai Etzioni wrote The Spirit of Community to address what he saw as the destructive focus of the private sector on government and the working public. In it, he poses questions about freedom and responsibility.

One technique Etzioni uses is Rhetoric, or the posing of questions to which the answer is a given. Asking rhetorical questions is a powerful method of getting the reader to begin agreeing with you, laying the groundwork for sympathy towards later statements.

To take and not to give is an amoral, self-centered predisposition that ultimately no society can tolerate... those most concerned about rights ought to be the first ones to argue for the resumption of responsibilities. One presumes the other.
(Amitai Etzioni, The Spirit of Community, Google Books)

By using a statement that most people would agree with, Etzioni is able to start on common groung with his audience. Even if they disagree with his overall point, they will be more likely to say, "That made sense," and be more receptive to his ideas in the future.


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