Reframing evidence synthesis as rhetorical action in the policy making drama.
Greenhalgh T., Russell J.
This paper presents a novel conceptualization of policy making as social drama. The selection and presentation of evidence for policy making, including the choice of which questions to ask, which evidence to compile in a synthesis and which syntheses to bring to the policy making table, should be considered as moves in a rhetorical argumentation game and not as the harvesting of objective facts to be fed into a logical decision-making sequence. Viewing policy making as argument does not mean it is beyond rationality--merely that we must redefine rationality to include not only logical inference and probabilistic reasoning, but also the consideration of plausibility by a reasonable audience. We need better evidence, but we also urgently need better awareness by policy makers of the language games on which their work depends.