ISSA Proceedings 2006 – Informal Logic And Pragma Dialectics

logo  2006Pragma-dialecticians are mainly Dutch argumentation theorists, while informal logicians are chiefly Canadian reformers of logic. The two groups are further differentiated in that pragma-dialecticians find their disciplinary home in speech communications while informal logicians dwell in philosophy. Yet these two groups, richly represented at this conference, have interacted productively for over twenty years. What is their common ground? And how did each come to find it?

Initially I believe the groups met over informal logical fallacies, although there is not the only way of describing their common ground. So let us glance at what informal logical fallacies are. A fallacy is a false belief held by one or more persons to be true, in other words, a mistaken belief. A school of American literary critics (the New School) held in the mid-twentieth century that you should not consult the intentions of the artist in evaluating an artwork, and that those who did so committed the intentional fallacy (Wimsatt & Beardsley 1954). But such a mistaken belief (if it is mistaken) is not yet a logical fallacy.
A logical fallacy is a mistake in reasoning (or arguing), and frequently the statement so inferred will be false. But this is not necessarily the case. It is simply unproven by these premises in this inference, yet might be proven by some other combination of premises and reasoning. The distinction of informal from formal logical fallacies takes us to the circumstances that motivated the rise of informal logic, so we must look at it more closely.
Formal logics offer us certain forms of inference or argument as valid, and the charm of a valid form (or indeed of formal logic itself) is that when you substitute appropriate (true) premises, you are assured of getting a true conclusion. In this sense valid forms have probative force – they contribute to proving conclusions. In some cases the form is a way of organizing certain complete statements, as in modus tollens; in others you have a small number of statement forms into which you substitute subject and predicate terms, as in the Aristotelian syllogism. A formal logical fallacy occurs when you substitute into an invalid form, one which will not prove a conclusion even when all of the premises are true. Examples are the fallacy of undistributed middle term in syllogistic logic, or negating the antecedent in propositional logic.
On the other hand an informal logical fallacy is a failed inference or argument whose fatal flaw is unrelated to any formal feature. Begging the question is an example, where we assume as true in a premise what we attempt to prove in the conclusion. The appeal to ignorance is another example, where we fallaciously claim that a conclusion is true because no one has disproved it. At this point a critic might object that we are mistaken in claiming that begging the question is unrelated to formal features. It involves the relation of premises to a conclusion, which is the form of an argument and hence a formal feature. But this an unhelpful way of speaking about arguments because the premise-conclusion relation is what constitutes an argument – without it, whatever use of language you have, it isn’t argument. And even if we accept that the premise-conclusion relation is a form, it differs from the forms of formal logics in having no probative force. So it is not a form in the sense that the forms of formal logics are forms.

Informal Logic
The great insight, which arose with the work of John Woods, Douglas Walton(1989), Ralph Johnson(1996), and J. Anthony Blair(Johnson 1996: 2-51) in the 1970s and 1980s, was that where there were informal logical fallacies, there was also an informal logic. Put differently, given that formal techniques are of little or no avail in analyzing informal fallacies, the techniques we develop for dealing with such informal logical fallacies will constitute an informal logic. To deal with them effectively would be to have criteria for identifying them, to understand why they are fallacious, and to be able to avoid them in one’s own reasoning and arguments. Informal has developed from little more than a list of fallacies, against which any given argument is checked, to a developed theory of argument in natural language and its appraisal.
So valuable is this insight that in my judgment we are today still in the early stages of exploring its implications. But a large part of its value at that time was its challenge to the accepted view among Anglo-American philosophers that classical (formal) logic and its progeny are the only logics worth serious attention. The problem with that view is that classical logic was developed by Frege(1986) and Russell(Whitehead & Russell 1927) with the goal of deducing all true propositions of arithmetic as theorems from a small number of axioms, and beyond subsequent applications in computer languages and work in AI, it has proved to be of little use.
The conviction that classical logic is the gold standard is present in Susan Haack’s discussion of all other logics as either rivals to (intuitionist), extensions of (Lewis’ modal systems), or deviants from (Lukasiewisz’s 3-valued) classical logic. Haack’s is a discussion (1974)for which informal logic does not yet exist. Classical logic still prevails among professional philosophers in the U.S.A., where mastery of its propositional and predicate calculi is a leaving requirement of many better graduate programs in philosophy (e.g. according to websites visited in April 2006, Cornell, Vanderbilt, Yale, Harvard, Berkeley). The irony of this is that these budding professional philosophers are force-fed a logic they will almost never use in their work, unless they become mathematical logicians. Witness W.O. Quine, regarded by some as the most important logician of the later twentieth century. The techniques he developed for classical logic in Mathematical Logic and Set Theory and Its Logic are scarcely to be found applied at all in works like From a Logical Point of View or Word and Object, which established his reputation as an ontologist and philosopher of language. It isn’t that in these works classical logic does no heavy lifting but that it does almost no lifting at all.
So it is perhaps not surprising that early steps toward developing informal logic moved tentatively away from classical logic and its progeny rather than breaking off decisively with it. In stimulating, carefully argued, and influential papers on specific informal fallacies in the 1970s and 1980s (Woods & Walton 1989) a variety of logics, some clearly formal, were drawn on. The debate this approach provoked at the first International Conference of ISSA (1986) was directed not so much at the reliance on formal logics as the plethora of logics drawn on. As Grootendorst and van Eemeren put it, we should not have to learn a complete new logic for each individual informal fallacy. A more parsimonious theory was desirable, and undergraduate teaching would require a simpler approach. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2006 – Women In Combat: Arguments Against Military Women In Combat Through Media Depictions Of Jessica Lynch And Lynndie England

logo  2006One in seven U.S. military personnel currently serving in Iraq is female. As of June 2003, women represented roughly 15% of active duty armed forces (Cook, 2003; Iskander, 2004).[i] Women’s presence in the military is a logistical necessity, although one that continues to be defined by military dictates in part shaped by public sentiment. In early 2005, Army Secretary Francis Harvey elected to maintain current military regulations denying women access to what were considered “combat” positions, a decision that met with debate regarding the “non-linear” reality of modern warfare (Bender, 2005a; Bender, 2005b). Long-range missiles, insurgent attacks, and roadside bombs do not target the “front lines” alone, making the notion of a front line as obsolete as the belief that because they do not occupy what are designated “direct ground combat positions,” women are distanced from fighting. The reality of modern warfare has bearing beyond the battlefield however, including an impact on the stories of women in the military and the way in which those stories are told.

The stories of Private First Class Jessica Lynch and Private First Class Lynndie England, two soldiers whose names and faces became famous during the U.S. war with Iraq, are examples of how the current context involving the shifting reality of modern warfare presents unique opportunity to study public arguments that include an element we describe as the free radical.[ii] As women who traversed traditional gender boundaries and faced situations considered far outside stereotypical feminine experiences, we argue Lynch and England are instantiations of the free radical “gender” in the context of the military. When it comes to the military, and specifically military roles such as positions in combat and POW prisons, or those stereotypically understood as far-removed from traditional feminine spheres, gender is a free radical, an element not entirely familiar or traditionally associated with the male-dominated institution. It is unstable because it does not draw from established scripts and in fact contradicts many long-held arguments against women’s participation in the military, combat, and war. The presence of atypical gender (that of woman) in combat and in the military, consequently, produces various possibilities for understanding a story and argument, as the free radical element of gender bonds to frames.
To account for the free radical, or explain this unusual and unfamiliar aspect of both women’s stories, the narratives of Lynch and England were framed in a variety of ways through the media’s telling of their incidents. The experiences of Lynch and England differ drastically, as does the media coverage of both women’s stories. We bring the concepts of framing and free radical together and explore their mutual impact through an analysis of their respective mediated stories. Such an analysis reveals that in the context of women in the military, the free radical gender often is controlled through traditional and familiar scripts, as an analysis of the Lynch story reveals. However, as an analysis of England’s narrative illustrates, those stories for which there are no traditional scripts on which to rely send us scrambling for a means to frame the story, tame the free radical, and allow for easier consumption and understanding. We explore the concepts of framing and free radical, as well as apply an understanding of their interactions to the stories of Lynch and England, and conclude with a discussion of the impact of such an analysis on the study of argument.

1. Framing and Free Radicals
Framing is a familiar concept to argumentation scholars, although its continuum ranges from discourse analysis to media analysis. In this paper, frames refer to “principles of selection, emphasis and presentation composed of little tacit theories about what exists, what happens and what matters” (Gitlin, 1980, p. 6). Entman (1993, p. 52) tells us, “To frame is to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient in a communication text, in such a way as to promote a particular problem definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation.”
Frames are essential for public arguments since they select and give salience to certain aspects of perceived reality that cue a particular response. They define the problem and establish its terms for resolution (Gusfield, 1981). However, not all frames are equal. Their chance of catching on depends on how they comport with what we know about the world or how they resonate with other frames we are used to and employ regularly to make sense of our experiences.
Two criteria particularly relevant for our analysis are narrative fidelity and empirical credibility (“Frame Analysis,” n.d.). Narrative fidelity refers to the congruence of a frame with one’s life experiences (Gamson & Modigliani, 1989; Oberschall, 1996). Sometimes the frame may require little or no explanation. Employees whose firm has filed for bankruptcy will easily catch onto the idea that this jeopardizes their pension fund. An invisible threat, such as the firm’s loss of market shares, may require more elaborate mediation of the pension frame for employees to regard the firm’s performance as threatening their retirement plans.
Although narrative fidelity provides the strongest possibility for catching on, a frame that does not relate to personal experiences still can have force if it fits with real world events as we know them, or has empirical credibility (“Frame Analysis,” n.d.). When a country is directly attacked, media presentations will help citizens not directly struck to comprehend the event through comparable personal experiences of self-defense. For example, the 9/11 terrorist attack on the U.S. rendered the self-defense frame more credible than, say, the frame of legal redress, even though most U.S. citizens were not directly hit.
The concept of free radical is borrowed from chemistry. Atoms seek stability, which is achieved when an outer shell’s capacity for electrons is full. Often atoms complete their outer shell by sharing an electron with another atom to form a molecule. As long as bonds don’t split in a way that leaves an electron unpaired, the molecule is stable. When an electron is unpaired, however, it becomes a free radical. Free radicals are extremely volatile; they react swiftly to bond with other compounds in order to regain stability. Free radicals, then, are highly reactive molecules that actively seek stability (“Understanding Free Radicals and Antioxidants,” 2006).
As we apply the notion of free radical to argument in this paper, it denotes a highly unusual and therefore unstable element within a story or argument that seeks a stabilizing bond. How an argument is framed may exacerbate the free radical’s instability. That is, as with free radicals, when the dominant element of a story violates its frame, it may accelerate the search for a stabilizing bond. This element’s volatility and bonding strength will depend on the frames it interacts with, each of which is socially constructed to consume the unfamiliar. In the sections that follow, we apply our conception of free radical to the notion of framing and explain how these concepts interact, and with what result, within the mediated stories of Lynch and England. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2006 – Pragma-Dialectics And A Unified Understanding Of Interpersonal Disagreement

logo  20061. The Demand/ Withdraw Pattern and Serial Argument
The demand/ withdraw communication pattern (D/W) is a familiar concept in the marital interaction literature (Watzlawick et al., 1967; Christensen & Heavey, 1990, 1993; Gottman, 1994; Canary et al., 1995; Heavey et al., 1995; Caughlin & Vangelisti, 1999, 2000; Bradbury et al., 2000; Caughlin, 2002; Caughlin & Huston, 2002). Johnson and Roloff (2000a) link D/W to the concept of a serial argument through the notion of an argumentative role. Their interest lies in the extent to which occupying different interaction roles leads to different perceptions about the resolvability of serial arguments. For example, might it be the case that a partner who is in the initiator role in a serial argument is more likely to believe that the argument is resolvable than the partner who occupies the resistor role? The link to D/W is achieved when Johnson and Roloff (Ibid., 3) claim that one way the initiator and resistor roles can be enacted is through the embodiment of D/W.
Of course, pointing this out is not to claim a particularly strong conceptual connection between D/W and serial argument. Serial arguments may not involve D/W at all; for example, neither Trapp and Hoff (1985) nor Trapp (1990) mention it. However, a defensible view of D/W is that it implies serial arguing. When Johnson and Roloff (1998, 3) discuss the process of arguing in serial arguments, they mention three argument patterns that reduce the chances of reaching agreement, one of which is D/W.
Second, individuals may enact a demand-withdraw pattern (Christensen & Shenk, 1991). Sometimes, a complainant confronts another in a very direct and aggressive way, and the perpetrator responds by withdrawing from the conversation or by becoming defensive. In effect, by withdrawing, no resolution is reached, and the argument may reemerge at a later time. (My emphasis).

There is a question here about the motivational force of D/W, such that we can ask whether or not it is plausible to think that D/W typically occurs without serial arguing. The theoretical background of D/W (C.f. Bateson et al., 1956; Watzlawick et al., 1967; Jackson 1965a, 1965b) suggests that the relationship between D/W and the reemergence of the argument is stronger than a correlation (Cf. Friemann, 2005). From this older literature we can suppose a causal claim is being made for not only does it reduce the chances of a couple reaching agreement, but it more than likely causes the argument to reemerge at a later time. Such a claim is implicit in more recent statements like the following: “Also, recall that dissatisfied couples enact patterns of negativity, which are likewise attributed to global, stable, and internal properties of the partner or the relationship” (Canary et al., 1995, 121).
If it is acceptable to claim that a couple caught in a D/W pattern are motivated to continue to enact the pattern (ignoring for the moment the issue of just how the pattern ‘motivates’; but see Johnson and Roloff 2000a, for an interesting analysis of how this motivation may develop), then we might suppose that the subsequent argument episodes will somehow reflect the fact that they are the product of D/W.
What happens when we broaden the perspective from an argument episode to a serial argument? Caughlin and Huston (2002, 114) lay out the possibilities.
K. L. Johnson and Roloff (2000) suggest, for example, that engaging in positive behaviors during, after, and between serial arguments may be an effective way of coping with the otherwise deleterious effects of recurring arguments (My emphasis).

Caughlin and Huston, through Johnson and Roloff, are suggesting that after an argument episode partners may mediate the negative effect of D/W with positive behavior. We can understand this mediating process in two ways. First, imagine an argument episode has just ended involving D/W, other negative behaviors, but positive ones as well. Suppose that after a while one partner, call him Peter, engages in some positive behavior (perhaps the same kind of behavior he expressed in the argument or different ones) toward his partner, call her Martha. These post-argument positive acts may have the effect such that Martha reevaluates the negative behaviors she experienced in the argument episode. Second, the buffering effect could run in the other direction: Peter’s positive behaviors after an argument episode influences how Martha will think about the next argument episode. So even if Peter behaves negatively toward her the next time, she might not think that his negative actions are as significant as she might have, if he had not previously behaved positively toward her. In such a case, we are supposing that Peter’s positive actions are done between argument episodes. The two examples assume that whatever behavior was exchanged during the argument episode was not enough to ameliorate the negative effect of D/W. For only if that is the case does it make sense to discuss behavior that could be exchanged between episodes. This must be part of the account of how D/W causes serial arguing. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2006 – On The Role Of Pragmatics, Rhetoric And Dialectics In Scientific Controversies

logo  20061. Introduction
Scientists use natural language with a formal orientation to report the results of their scientific works. This formalism may include logics and mathematics. Even when this is the case, however, extensive use is made of natural language. Other than in communicating their findings, language is used by scientists in the proper building of science. In other words, language is constitutive of science, as it is of all other social human activities. In this preliminary work I study aspects of the use of language in the actual production of science. Specifically, I have in mind that activity by scientists of informal discussions with colleagues, as might start in coffee-breaks, or as happens in more regular meetings. These discussions, sometimes contentious, are often responsible for new ideas, that can solve scientific problems.
As Laudan rightly asserts, the fundamental aim of science is the solution of problems, while scientific theories may be considered as “attempts to solve specific empirical problems about the natural world” [Laudan, 1977]. Epistemology, dealing with questions concerning knowledge, tries to explain how such solutions and theories are created and critically evaluated, thus accounting for the growth of knowledge.
From Aristotle, and up to the first half of last century, scientific endeavor and the resulting science have always been considered as epistemically certain and undisputable. Yet, in practice, the activity of scientists has ever been immersed in controversies. Reflecting this contradiction, epistemology in the last decades has been troubled by a dichotomy, that either considers science from a normative viewpoint or from a descriptivist one.
Recently, I had the opportunity to elaborate a model of the practice of science for epistemic use [Ferreira, 2005], which aims at solving the impasse of this dichotomy in favor of an intermediate acceptable position. In this paper I will deal with some language aspects of that model, wherever it applies to spoken language cases of the practice of science. In what follows I will present an outline of the model, to subsequently briefly discuss the incidence of rhetoric, dialectic and pragmatics in relation to the epistemics of the model. I finish by revisiting a related case of the practice of science, in terms of the use of language.

2. The model
The production of scientific theories is described by this model as a unified and interactive process of generation (discovery, invention) and justification. The implicit feedback mechanism between justification and discovery consists in advancing or justifying a hypothesis from the evidence of data or from established results, a process called generative justification [Nickles, 1985]. More explicitly: starting with a problem, a scientist tries to find a solution to it, by searching heuristically the space of data and previous knowledge. The assessment of the hypothesis’ plausibility, or some assurance of its correctness, comes from the context of justification, as hypothesis’ generative support, reducing its conjectural status. Let us remark that this is quite different from justifying a claim indirectly by testable consequences, as in Popper’s model, where discovery is considered only a psychological process, devoid of epistemic interest. It is appropriate to stress that the model here presented is a unified model of scientific problem solving and theory production, and that it recovers an epistemic role for the discovery/generation context.
In the derivation of the above model, use is made of the consideration of the need for efficiency of research activities, which imposes a connection between generation and justification. This allowance for efficiency of means to ends adds to the epistemic rationality of the process, contributing to enlarge the amplitude of this concept. The remarkable consequence of this feature, however, is that it connects the epistemic appraisal of science to the work of practical scientists. This translates to saying that rationality becomes agent-dependent [Laudan, 1996, 128]. When deciding on how to use experimental evidence to better support a hypothesis, or, on less than rigorous heuristic procedures, the strategies of different researchers will usually vary. Different individual background assumptions and cognitive aims may bring what should be a “rational discussion” down to (or up to!) a controversy. This points to the controversial character of science in practice, as corroborated by its history, but generally not acknowledged at all.

Regarding our modeling task, this characteristic of science renders the above model incapable of representing the activity of real scientists. However, it suggests that, somehow, to represent science properly the model should incorporate that controversial aspect! And that is what I propose: to embed the concept of controversies in the previous model. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2006 – Towards A “Pragma-Dramatic” Approach To Argumentation

logo  20061. Language and space
Years ago, when I was a boy scout, I got lost with my group in the middle of nowhere. We found a local man and asked him for directions. “Go that way, not this way. Then, turn this way, that way, not that way. Then, that way but never that way or you’ll get lost”, he said. While he spoke he did not make any gesture with his hands, his head or his eyes that would allow us to tell “that way” from “this way” or from “that way”.
If an experienced actor, whether professional or amateur, would have to perform a scene in which his character spoke like the farmer whom I just mentioned, unless indicated, the actor will fill his/her performance with gestures, tying the words with specific points in the space that surround him/her.
We will try to discuss in this paper about the way in which theatre ties the words with the space and the time in which it develops and what pragmatics can say about these bonds.
In his classic book “Drama as literature” Jiri Veltrusky makes an update for the study of drama. For him, saying that drama is dialogical not only refers to the fact that the action of the play is constructed in and by speech turns, but, more deeply, to the bond between this literary form and time and space. For Veltrusky, the dialog develops not only in time but also in space. It takes places always in an extralinguistic situation that shapes the dialog (1987: 17).
So, if we are going to attempt a study of daily interaction as if we were studying a theatre play, we must include in the analysis not only the words said in that certain order, but the entailment between saying and that specific and changing “here / now” (idem).

Without any doubt, the works of Ervin Goffman, mainly “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life”, are the most famous attempt to distinguish theatre (drama) categories in daily interactions. But according to our opinion, Goffman tried maybe too hastily to transpose many concepts from a very restricted form of theatre. Nevertheless, we will take his definition of an ‘encounter as the minimum unit of analysis, understood as a continuous of space, time and actors communicating. An entrance, an exit or an interruption of the communication marks the end of one encounter and the beginning of another. (Goffman 1956: 27)
There is also another essential divergence between our point of view and Goffman’s that we would like to point out. According to Goffman, “the central understanding (of the scene) consists in that the audience does not have the right or the obligation to participate directly in the dramatic action that happens in the scene” (Goffman 1956:125). We think that, being part of a scene, the audience (the agents) can never escape away from the dramatic action.
Plus, to study daily argumentative interaction, which develops without any previous written script, we should move from the study of drama, as a fixed literary object, to the way in which the actors and directors train to develop improvised action on stage. The ideas and exercises developed by Keith Johnstone have been widely accepted and used for the training of actors improvising and for the creation of improvisational spectacles.
When an argumentative interaction is considered as a scene, an ‘encounter’, conformed by a finite number of oral exchanges, many different elements come together, and can influence, in a decisive way, in the good or bad result of the whole interaction.
Many of these elements have to do with the psycho-social characteristics of those who participate in the interaction, with the form in which those characteristics are selected, activated and they are interpreted in the specific course of the exchange. (Calsamiglia & Tusón 1999: 45). “When we are trying to understand discourse in all its complexity, we must to be able to give account of what we say, how we say it and how we move it” (Poyatos 1994, our translation) Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2006 – Legal Arguments For Political Violence: The Assassination Of The Duke Of Orléans (1407)

logo  2006Die ich rief, die Geister
Werd ich nun nicht los.
Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Der Zauberlehrling (1797)[i]

1. Introduction: Conflict and Assassination
The early 15th century in France was characterised by a power vacuum created by recurrent bouts of madness suffered by King Charles VI. The chief contenders for filling this vacuum were Louis, Duke of Orléans, brother of the king; and his cousin John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy (Calmette 1964, pp. 103 ff.; Vaughan 2002, pp. 29ff).[ii] In spite of occasional protestations and oaths of cousinly love, the conflict between Louis and John had proceeded to the stage of iconographic induration: the Duke of Orléans had adopted the emblem of a knotty stick, with the motto “je l’ennuie,” which literally means “I vex him,” but can also be read as a gambling term, “I challenge him.” The Burgundian in turn had embraced the image of a plane, together with the Flemish device “Ic houd,” which literally means “I hold,” but also has a gambling connotation: “I accept [the challenge]” (Huizinga 1984, p. 211).[iii]
When a prolonged political propaganda campaign, designed to discredit Louis in the eyes of the people, and to deprive him of his influence at court, proved unavailing, John resorted to sterner measures. He hired a band of thugs and had Louis killed in a dark street in the Marais district of Paris on 23 November 1407 (Monstrelet 1857, pp. 154ff.; Pintoin 1841, pp. 730ff.). Having previously examined the political arguments and propaganda aimed at defending the Duke of Burgundy against the charge of having assassinated the Duke of Orléans (Hohmann 2003), I now propose to examine the legal arguments surrounding these events.

2. Designing a Defence for the Duke of Burgundy
In his approach to the case, John of Burgundy ranged successively over all three main levels of the rhetorical stasis or status system, developed in antiquity to analyze and lay out for use the options available to a legal defendant.[iv] When the news of the assassination first broke, he at first implicitly denied any involvement in the deed (status coniecturalis, issue of fact) by ostentatiously participating in the funeral ceremonies for his dead cousin Louis, with whom he had celebrated a public reconciliation a few days earlier. John, clad in mourning clothes, held one of the four corners of the drape covering the coffin, and cried and moaned in a show of grief, together with the other relatives of the king’s dead brother (Monstrelet 1857, p. 160).
A period of speculation over the identity of the author of this assassination was ended on Friday of the same week, soon after the funeral for the late duke, when John of Burgundy, threatened with a search of his house in Paris, where the assassins had found refuge, admitted to his uncle, the Duke of Berry, and to Louis of Anjou, King of Sicily, that he had ordered the murder. At this point he used an excuse (status qualitatis, issue of quality) by claiming that in ordering the deed he had succumbed to temptation from the devil (Monstrelet 1857, p. 162). This may strike a modern audience as a bit of a stretch, but it should be noted that contemporary records show that this excuse was used in nearly ten percent of the successful applications for royal letters of remission at the time (Gauvard 1991, p. 430).[v] On Saturday, the Duke of Burgundy, in spite of his general reputation for fearlessness (he had earned his honorific of sans peur at the battle of Nicopolis in 1396 [Champion 1911, p. 4]), thought it wise on this occasion to leave Paris speedily and stealthily in order to escape possible arrest (Monstrelet 1857, p. 164).
But John of Burgundy soon regained the initiative. With his advisers, he began to compose and publish a detailed explanation of his action (Monstrelet 1857, pp. 171ff.; Schnerb 1988, pp. 78ff.), and some three and a half months after the assassination, on 8 March 1408, he appeared in the hall of the king’s residence in Paris (the Hôtel de Saint-Pol) to offer his justification to the Dauphin of France (the king was too ill to attend), the assembled nobility, members of the University of Paris, as well as “a numerous body of the citizens of Paris and people of all ranks.” (Monstrelet 1840, p. 61; Monstrelet 1857, p. 178). This time, the duke relied primarily on the status definitionis (issue of definition), by claiming that his deed was not punishable homicide, but the deserved punishment of a traitor and a defensible act of tyrannicide. As so often in history, violence was thus justified as a means of preventing violence: the basic defence offered was that the Duke of Burgundy had ordered the assassination to protect king and kingdom against Louis’ plans to kill the legitimate monarch and to seize power illegally (Géruzez 1836, pp. 127ff.; Munier-Jolain 1896, pp. 43ff.). By presenting his defence to this special assembly, rather than to the Parlement de Paris (Autrand 1981), the highest court of the realm, the duke also implicitly invoked the fourth level of the stasis system, the status translationis (issue of procedure), effectively claiming that he, as a peer of France, could be judged only by the king, not by the ordinary courts.
A further implicit element of his case was fear: his audience was intimidated by the enthusiastic popular support that had been evinced when the duke re-entered Paris after his cautionary absence, and by the multitude of armed men he had brought with him (Monstrelet 1857, pp. 176f.; Pintoin 1841, pp. 752ff.). This none too subtle argumentum ad baculum was in addition reinforced by the elaborate security precautions accompanying the assembly in the Hôtel de Saint-Pol: all audience members had to enter through a single door and were searched; and when John the Fearless finally appeared, he was sure to make all aware that under his richly embroidered outer garment he was wearing armour (Ehlers 1999, pp. 137ff.). Read more

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