ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ The Voices Of Justice; Argumentative Polyphony And Strategic Manoeuvring In Judgement Motivations: An Example From The Italian Constitutional Court

Abstract: Combining the ScaPoLine (Nølke, Fløttum, & Norén, 2004; Nølke, 2009, 2011, 2013) with the (extended) pragma-dialectical approach (van Eemeren & Grootendorst 1984; 2004; van Eemeren 2010), I suggest a reconstruction of judgement motivations as critical discussions between a plurality of voices conveyed even in one and the same sentence. In particular, I present some illustrative examples of polyphonic strategic manoeuvring from a landmark judgment of the Italian Constitutional Court: n. 440/1995.

Keywords: Critical discussion, Italian Constitutional Court, legal discourse, polyphony, Pragma-dialectics, ScaPoLine, strategic manoeuvring.

1. Introduction
When reading legal texts such as judgement motivations, one encounters a plurality of voices carrying different views on the issue at stake. This happens not only – quite unsurprisingly – at a textual level, but also at the micro-level of the utterance (cf. Nølke, 2009, p. 12). With Nølke (2009, p. 12), I focus here on “polyphonie en langue, conçue comme le produit des éléments de la langue susceptibles de favoriser une certaine lecture polyphonique de la parole.” I maintain that the use of such polyphony has an argumentative significance and that this can lead to reconstruct such apparently monological texts as fully fledged critical discussions permeated by the striving for rhetoric efficiency known in Pragma-dialectics as strategic manoeuvring (van Eemeren, 2010). In other words, I suggest focusing on argumentative polyphony in judicial motivations and looking at it from the angle of rhetoric efficiency, since, as van Eemeren (2010, p. 153) pointedly writes, it is the “ample room left for strategic maneuvering [that] is, in fact, the basis of the legal profession.”

The matters addressed in the present contribution are of methodological order and can be broken down into two questions:
* Can an integration of the pragma-dialectical and a polyphonic approach provide useful insights into argumentation analysis?
* Does polyphony account for strategic manoeuvring in judgement motivations?

The fundamental suggestion put forward is therefore the integration of two theoretical pillars: the (extended) Pragma-dialectics on the one hand (see among others van Eemeren & Grootendorst, 2004; 1992; 1984; van Eemeren, 2010), and the linguistic polyphonic approach known under the acronym ScaPoLine – which stands for Théorie SCAndinave de la POlyphonie LINguistique – on the other hand (see among others Nølke, Fløttum & Norén, 2004; Nølke, 2006; Nølke, 2013).

2. Theoretical framework
2.1 The first pillar: Extended Pragma-dialectics
I will not dwell largely upon the first pillar here, since it is the specialty of the Institution hosting the conference from which the present volume results. Only two aspects are to be briefly recalled to the reader’s mind: the ideal abstract model of a critical discussion, in which argumentation and standpoint are staged, and the rhetorical component present in argumentation. Read more


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