Interdisciplinary Studies Ph.D. Dissertations


Arguments of Functional Theory & The Iran-Nuclear Deal of 2015

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Interdisciplinary Studies

First Advisor

Joshua Atkinson (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Michael Bradie (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Lee Nickoson (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Mary Hare (Other)


Functional theory has been used internationally to study the content of political debates. Some scholars have critiqued the theory as being too culturally restricted. This study contends that values are inherent to human argumentation and uses the Aristotelian values of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance to expand the analytic power of functional theory. A qualitative content analysis was applied using functional theory with values on news outlet articles from 2013 – 2015 from Al Jazeera, BBC, USA Today, New York Times, and Washington Post. The articles concerned the Iran Deal of 2015 and were accessed online. Themes generated include: knowledge, understanding, wisdom, productivity, safety, trust, benefits, concessions, fairness, rights, hope, faith, power, and patience. Using values with functional theory was found to expand the latter’s analytic power cross culturally and across fields.