Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

B. F. McClerren



The purpose of this study was to analyze selected senatorial speeches for and against using military force against Iraq.


It was hypothesized that Richard Weaver's hierarchy of argument will provide a useful framework for the identification of arguments and philosophical inclination of the speakers.


The primary documents comprising this study were the four speeches found in Vital Speeches of the Day by Senator Robert Dole (R-KS), Senator George Mitchell (D-ME), Senator John C. Danforth (R-MO), and Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA). All were delivered in the Senate between January 10-12, 1991. The speakers chosen were well-respected members of the Senate.


Clark & Johannesen (1976-77) and Johannesen, Strickland, and Eubanks (1970) have praised the late Richard M. Weaver for his hierarchical division of arguments. McClerren (1990) used Weaver's hierarchy to identify the philosophical starting points of those involved in the debate over abortion.

Weaver's hierarchy of argument was employed to analyze the senatorial speeches (Weaver, 1970, pp. 201-225). This method named several types of argument (definition, analogy, cause-effect, and testimony) and classifies them by their perceived merit.

This study followed Weaver's hierarchy by showing how the arguments used can help in identifying the philosophical inclinations of the speaker.


The results of the study demonstrate that the hierarchy of argument Weaver created was an effective basis for identifying philosophical inclinations and rhetorical arguments.

All speakers favored argument by definition (Dole & Danforth 9, Mitchell 8, and Nunn 6 uses each). the next most favored argument was cause-effect (Mitchell 6, Danforth 5, Dole & Nunn 4). Third was analogy (Dole 8, Danforth & Nunn 4, Mitchell 2) and finally testimony (Nunn 9, Mitchell 4, Danforth 1, Dole 0).

All Senators leaned toward idealism. The pro-force Senators, Dole & Danforth, used the most idealistic arguments. The anti-forces Senators (Mitchell & Nunn) used more pragmatic and realistic arguments.

Suggestions for Further Research

Weaver's hierarchy should be further tested by application to other speeches dealing with a variety of political and social issues. Criteria for the identification of philosophy should be further refined.