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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ISSA Proceedings 2006 – Argument Refutation Through Definitions And Re-Definitions

logo  2006If you are not well equipped with an argument against the assertion, look among the definitions, real or apparent, of the thing before you, and if one is not enough, draw upon several. For it will be easier to attack people when committed to a definition: for an attack is always more easily made on definitions. (Aristotle’s Topics, Book II)

1. Introduction
Goal-oriented communication has long been the trademark of human interaction in a wide range of private and public settings. During the past three decades a renewed awareness has emerged in both academic and extra-academic circles about the growing role and extensive effects of rhetorically powerful discourse in all areas of human activity. This is particularly noticeable in political discourse, which is driven by the challenge and wish to argue in order to influence people’s minds, to motivate people to act and even to manipulate people. That is why speakers do not only advance their own arguments in favour of their positions, but they also provide arguments denying the other side’s arguments. In controversies, definitions are often used to legitimate and refute arguments. Refuting an argument presupposes understanding that argument at every level of its definitional meaning and practical implications. In political disputes the act of defining contributes to further polarisation between adversarial positions and can therefore become rhetorically persuasive or dissuasive.
This paper examines the role played by refutation in the persuasion and dissuasion processes that rely on the use of definitions. The very prospect of refuting an argument entails understanding that argument at every level of its definitional meaning and logical implications. In arguing, a speaker often appeals to definitions that reinforce the power of his/her arguments and/or to definitions that help to refute the opponent’s arguments. Particularly persuasive are those definitions that are meant to stir up prejudices and stereotypes and thus to undermine the justifiability of the opponent’s arguments and explicit/implicit definitions.
In order to illustrate the argumentative uses of definition in refutations, I have chosen to examine the various uses of definition-based refutations in Emmeline Pankhurst’s speech on women’s right to vote entitled Militant suffragists. This is a particularly significant speech, since apart from highlighting a very controversial issue in England and other countries at that time, it was delivered not in her home country, but in Hartford, Connecticut, which involved extra rhetorical processing and a special selection and presentation of the right arguments for the right audience.

2. Refutation: an interactive process, a performative act and a rhetorical device
In institutional discourses and in public speeches refutation (Lat. refutatio) involves the use of rhetorical and argumentative devices with the purpose of countering an opponent’s argument or rejecting the counterarguments of one’s opponent. The complex uses and implications of refutation have raised great interest in both linguistics and rhetoric, which may account for the fact that there are several definitions of refutation (Rieke and Sillars 1975, Moeschler 1982, Eemeren et al. 1996, Verlinden 2005). According to Rieke and Sillars, refutation designates both attacking others’ arguments and defending one’s own. Moeschler characterises the speech act of refutation typologically, describing the conditions that govern its use, the linguistic markers of refutation, and the role of refutation in conversation. In van Eemeren et al. an important distinction is made between strong and weak refutations. In a strong refutation “one is to attack the standpoint by showing that the proposition is unacceptable whereas the opposite, or contradictory, proposition is acceptable”, whereas “in ‘weak refutation’ it is sufficient to cast doubt upon the attacked standpoint, without a defense of the opposite standpoint”. (1996: 4).

Dictionary definitions of refutations are useful in that they often implicitly contribute to highlighting various semantic perspectives on the occurrence and functions of different kinds of refutations. A comprehensive lexical definition of the notion of refutation is provided in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, which highlights their communicative functions:
Refutation n. [L. refutatio: cf. F. r[‘e]futation.]
The act or process of refuting or disproving, or the state of being refuted; proof of falsehood or error; the overthrowing of an argument, opinion, testimony, doctrine, or theory, by argument or countervailing proof. (Online Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary)

Linguistically, refutation is the part of a coherent piece of discourse in which the speaker reminds or anticipates opposing arguments and responds to them. A pragma-linguistic definition of refutation is provided by Online Wordwebonline:

1. The speech act of answering an attack on your assertions; e.g. “his refutation of the charges was short and persuasive” – defense [US], defence [Brit, Cdn]
2. Any evidence that helps to establish the falsity of something – disproof, falsification
3. The act of determining that something is false – falsification, falsifying, disproof, refutal

As a rhetorical device, refutation has been formalised within the arrangement of the classical oration, following the ‘confirmatio’, i.e. the section of a speech devoted to proof. Refutation also applies to a general mode of argumentation within certain topics of invention, such the contradiction, by means of which the speaker answers the counterarguments of his/her opponent. Refutation can be achieved in a variety of ways, including logical appeal, emotional appeal, ethical appeal and wit (joke, humour, sarcasm, puns). In particular situations, speakers find it appropriate to present a refutation before the confirmation. For example, if an adversary’s speech is well received, it is usually helpful to refute his/her arguments before offering one’s own. Refutations apply to a variety of confrontational settings in which arguments are being attacked, denied, contradicted and/or rejected as being false, absurd, impertinent, wicked or unjust. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2006 – Dialectical Ideal And Dialectical Training

logo  20061. Introduction
Since the publication of Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca´s La Nouvelle rhétorique and Toulmin´s The Uses of Argument, argumentation theory in general and normative argumentation theory in particular have made great advancements. Most notably some complex models have been developed that allow for a better analysis of argumentative discourse and present a normative ideal for effective argumentation and the solution of differences of opinions. Among these, the pragma-dialectical theory with the model for a critical discussion developed by Frans van Eemeren and Rob Grotendorst stands out as the most complete and influential in recent times.
At the core of this model stands a group of fifteen rules for a critical discussion that guides the behaviour of ideal discussants on their way to solving cooperatively their difference of opinion. By reconstructing the discourse and showing derailments from these rules it is possible to analyse problems that have occurred during the discussion and to explore their causes. This pathological or ex-post function of the critical discussion is a very powerful tool for argumentative analysis of discourse and among other benefits also offers the most coherent modern theory of fallacies. These rules have been shown to have both a very high problem validity and conventional validity (comp. van Eemeren, Grotendorst 2004, pp. 131-34), so adhering to them supports an optimal solution of a difference of opinion and is also generally held to do so by ordinary language users.
Yet this pathological analysis of what went wrong in an argumentative exchange is only one side of pragma-dialectics, and is necessarily mirrored by what could be called the ‘medical function’ of trying to prevent a discussion from failing by offering optimal guidance to partners in the discussion. Of course it might be difficult (if not impossible) to lead an ideal critical discussion under the typical constraints of limited time, incomplete information and different social backgrounds, but while this might be true, it should nevertheless be possible at least to approach this ideal with reasonable discussants and under favourable circumstances. Discussants should be able to adhere voluntarily to the set of fifteen rules (van Eemeren, Grotendorst 2004, pp. 135-157) or the more concise “ten commandments” (van Eemeren, Grotendorst 2004, pp. 190-196) of a critical discussion if they try to solve their difference of opinion in a reasonable way. However, any attempt to do so will quickly reveal that even under very favourable higher order conditions and with the best intentions to discuss a matter reasonably, most ordinary language users find it very difficult in practice to act in accordance with the ten commandments for a critical discussion while engaged in an argumentative exchange.
The question that directly follows from this problem and that will guide this paper is how can the necessary faculties for reasonable arguers be trained to enable them to approach a critical discussion in their everyday conversations? This main question can be divided into two steps: a) which abilities need to be developed to approach a critical discussion; and b) how can these abilities be trained? This paper will explore these two steps and in addition suggest a training method for some of the faculties that are needed for a critical discussion. This method is the competitive dialectical training format “Modern Disputation” which has been recently developed at the University of Tübingen and has since been successfully used for training in small groups as well as academic tournaments. In this context the basic elements of modern disputation will be described, and an attempt will be made to show how the trained faculties correspond to the necessary faculties for a critical discussant. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2006 – Communication Principles For Controversies – An Historical Perspective

logo  20061. Introduction
For centuries people have complained about their opponents in controversies who tend to make chaos of rational argumentation by evading arguments, by writing incomprehensibly, by intentionally misunderstanding their opponent, by insulting him, and by committing all kinds of fallacies. (A similar list of infringements of principles was drawn up by Leibniz, cf. Leibniz, “Art of controversies”, Ch. 27.) These complaints presuppose ideal forms of controversy and the validity of relevant principles which should guide the actions of the participants. They form an important part of what one could call the implicit theory of controversy that people apply in their practice. Most of the time speakers and writers follow these principles as a matter of routine without having to formulate them explicitly. Sometimes, however, occasion arises to make such principles explicit. This is the case when one teaches or when one complains and criticizes. Teachers of argumentation skills have always formulated rules or principles for good argumentation, from Aristotle’s “Sophistical Refutations” and the traditional rules of disputation (cf. Jakob Thomasius, 1670) to the ten pragma-dialectical rules for critical discussion (cf. van Eemeren/Grootendorst/Snoeck Henkemans 2002, 182f.). Students of disputation should be lead from that senseless type of dispute in which everything is confused without order and formal presentation to a more useful kind of reasoning which aims at discovering the truth (“ab insano illo conflictu, qvo sine ordine, sine formali discursu miscentur vulgo ac turbantur omnia … ad magis proficuam veritatis eruendae rationem”, Thomasius 1670, 140). The importance of the participants’ critical remarks on ongoing discussions for a theory of dialectics was emphasized by Hamblin in his book on fallacies: “… the development of a theory of charges, objections or points of order is a first essential” (Hamblin 1970, 303). It is therefore not surprising that for an historical analysis of communication principles the complaints and accusations concerning dialectical malpractice uttered in the course of historical controversies should form a prime source of data (cf. Fritz 2005).

Before embarking on a survey of such principles I should like to clarify what I mean by communication principles. The simplest way to do this is to say communication principles are basically what Grice called maxims of conversation (cf. Grice 1989, 26ff.). In saying this, I am not subscribing to the Gricean theory in general, including the cooperative principle etc. As far as the assumption of basic principles is concerned, my sympathies lie with theories like Hintikka‘s (Hintikka 1986) and Kasher‘s (Kasher 1976) who emphasize the foundational role of some kind of rationality principle – which of course was also mentioned by Grice (Grice 1989, 29f.). However, I feel that at the present stage of research it may be useful to concentrate on the empirical study of communication principles in order to get a more vivid picture of how rationality is put into practice. And maybe this empirical approach will also show that there are principles which are not in any simple way related to standard assumptions of rationality, e.g. principles which people inherited from earlier periods without adapting them to new communicative demands.
Taken at a certain level, such principles seem to be fairly simple and universal, like for example the principle of relevance, but as soon as we go into empirical detail we realize that the principles people mention (and follow) are often much more fine-grained and that they form highly complex families which are differentiated according to social groups (e.g. scholars vs. courtiers) and types of text (pamphlets vs. reviews) etc., and which, for good reasons – this is a basic assumption of this paper – are historically variable. If such principles are indeed derived from a general principle of rationality, then what counts as an application of this general principle is a rather complicated matter and can be assumed to be subject to historical changes. On the one hand, there are long-lasting traditions of certain principles, e.g. the Aristotelian tradition of criticizing certain types of fallacies, on the other hand there are obvious changes over time which are linked to social developments, e.g. the development of social groups, the development of a culture of conversation, or the developments of media. A few examples may be in order: In 17th century polite conversation, contradicting an equal was a highly problematic move, which had to be accompanied with face-saving utterances (cf. Shapin 1994, 114ff.). When 17th century scholars became advisers at court, they had to give up their academic bickering. And when the new scientific journals were created by the end of the 17th century, academic discussions had to conform to new principles of text production, which differed from traditional pamphlet writing.
The following observations are based on case studies within the framework of Historical Pragmatics, mainly from the 16th to the 18th century.[i] In this framework, the history of communication principles is part of the study of the conditions of continuity and change in forms of communication. Controversies are a particularly rewarding object of study for Historical Pragmatics, as they show fairly clear basic structures, as there is a large amount of interesting data available, and as many of the writers of polemical texts tended to reflect on their own polemical practice and that of their opponents. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2006 – Irony As Ethical Argumentation In Kierkegaard

logo  20061. Scope of the investigation
Irony is a type of stylistic argument that, because of the great variety of its forms, is particularly resistant to analysis. In this essay, therefore, I propose to focus the discussion on the use of irony in:
1. ethical argumentation,
2. within rhetorical contexts,
3. especially as practiced and interpreted by philosophers, and
4. specifically by the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. My reasons for limiting the topic of stylistic irony are the following four.

1.1 Ethical argumentation
Irony is frequently found within ethical argumentation, perhaps more distinctively than in any other context. The association of irony with ethics stems from the evaluative character of irony, since irony often encourages the listener to make a judgment that an implied idea or state of affairs is better, somehow or another, than the one the ironist explicitly puts into words. Not all irony is ethical argumentation, of course, not even all evaluative irony; for example, irony also occurs in aesthetic argumentation. Some of what is called irony is not argumentation at all, such as “tragic” or “dramatic” irony, where the irony lies in what happens and not in what is said. Moreover, much of what goes under the name of irony seems too trivial to be called ethical argumentation, or indeed argumentation in any usual sense. It seems, rather, to be mere playfulness, a way of having a bit of fun with the vagaries of words and typical human dilemmas. Still, if someone identifies some pages as a paradigm case of sustained irony, the passage is apt to turn out to be a piece of ethical argumentation – perhaps as used in personal invective or social critique – in such works as Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal or A Tale of a Tub.

1.2 Importance of the rhetorical context
Each case of irony needs to be appreciated in its specific rhetorical context – in terms of the situation, at that time, of the particular ironists and listeners, their emotional states, their personal histories, and even the very intonation of the words they speak. The words by themselves and their sentential structure do not identify a passage as ironical, since just the same words, with a slightly different inflection or under other circumstances, may be utterly devoid of irony.
Toward the end of the twentieth century several rhetoricians wrote interpretations of the concept of irony that continue to be significant for the study of irony and its place in argumentation. Three writers laid the foundation: Norman Knox, with his book The Word Irony and its Context, 1500-1755 (1961), D. C. Muecke, with The Compass of Irony (1969), and, above all, Wayne Booth, with his influential study, A Rhetoric of Irony (1974). David Kaufer then applied their insights specifically to the study of irony’s place in argumentation, with a series of three articles, in 1977, 1981, and (with Christine M. Neuwirth) 1982. Their work, in turn, was followed by that of a pair of informal logicians, Christopher W. Tindale and James Gough, in 1987.

1.3 Interpretation and practice of irony by the Romantic philosophers
Although looking to philosophers to interpret literary irony may seem strange, the explanation is simple. Near the beginning of the nineteenth century a group of philosophers, led by Friedrich Schlegel and his brother August, but including many of the leading philosophers and poets of the day, greatly expanded the concept of irony and made irony central both to philosophy and to literature, both for their own time and up to the present. To call them philosophers, however, does not mean that they were not also literary figures, since for them literature and philosophy – like poetry and prose, the novel and philosophical dialogue, and irony and the non-ironical – are all false dichotomies. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2006 – Metadialogues And Meta-Arguments: Krabbe On Formal-Fallacy Criticism

logo  2006“A metadialogue is a dialogue about a dialogue or about some dialogues. A dialogue that is not a metadialogue will be called a ground level dialogue” (Krabbe 2003, p. 641). With these definitions, Krabbe explicitly introduced the topic of metadialogues into argumentation theory. Similarly, I define a meta-argument as an argument about one or more arguments, and a ground-level argument as one which is not a meta-argument.
Here it is useful to stress the overlap between dialogues and arguments. Krabbe himself has stated that his main interest lies with persuasion dialogues, or critical discussions, and these entities involve arguments in an essential way. Moreover, Barth and Krabbe (1982) have famously proved the equivalence between the axiomatic and dialogical methods; and this proof may be taken to suggest (cf. Finocchiaro 2005, pp. 231-45) not only that the monolectical way of talking about arguments can be translated into a dialogical way of talking, but also that the reverse is the case. Here this reverse case will be exploited by discussing arguments and meta-arguments in a relatively monolectical manner, in the belief that this discussion could be translated into one about dialogues and metadialogues. Accordingly, in a few moments I will attempt to reconstruct some of Krabbe’s insights about metadialogues in terms of meta-arguments.
Finally, although the explicitly meta-argumentative, or metadialogical, approach is a valuable step forward, both meta-arguments and metadialogues have been implicitly discussed for a long time in argumentation theory. This has happened primarily in the context of the evaluation or criticism of arguments, which everyone will admit to be a crucial part of argumentation theory. In fact, argument evaluation can be done seriously only if one gives reasons supporting the evaluative claim; such a reasoned evaluation is obviously an argument, and since the subject matter is the original argument, the evaluation is clearly a meta-argument. Thus, it should come as no surprise if much of my analysis will consist of attempts to reconstruct in explicit terms of meta-argument relevant insights that deal with argument assessment.
An important type of meta-argument occurs when a ground-level argument is criticized for having committed a fallacy. As Krabbe (2002, p. 162) has stated, “in fallacy criticism it is upon the critic to show why an alleged move in critical discussion is so completely wrong that it cannot even prima facie be accepted as a serious contribution to the discussion. Thus fallacy criticism leads to a critical discussion on a second level, a discussion about the permissibility of a move in the ground level discussion.”

Krabbe’s thesis about fallacy criticism is in part presented by him as a solution to the problem of the asymmetry between favorable and unfavorable evaluations of arguments. In several challenging papers, Massey (1975a, 1975b, 1981) had asked and answered negatively the question, “Are there any good arguments that bad arguments are bad?” By contrast, Krabbe (1995) asks and answers affirmatively the question, “Can we ever pin one down to a formal fallacy?” Despite the terminological variance, and the opposition of their respective conclusions, the meta-argumentative dimension of the discussion is obvious. What is being discussed is the nature and cogency of meta-arguments to the effect that some ground-level argument is bad, fallacious, or invalid. Let us reconstruct Krabbe’s own argument (a third-level meta-argument!) that it is possible to construct cogent (second-level) meta-arguments to the effect that some ground-level argument is a formal fallacy.
First, what is a formal fallacy? For Krabbe (1995, p. 336), “a formal fallacy, in dialogue, is committed as soon a party presents a formally invalid (i.e., not formally valid) argument that violates the code of conduct of the dialogue.” Here it is important to note that, besides formal invalidity, there is a second element in this definition – code violation; that is, a violation of some rule either agreed upon by the two interlocutors, or arguably relevant in the context of that discussion. Although it is unrealistic to expect prior or explicit agreement about the rules of a particular discussion, learning the contextual relevance of various types of arguments and criticism is a normal part of the education designed to achieve mastery of a given field. For example, historians often argue for chronological theses by means of arguments which, however strong, are formally invalid; and the same happens in the more experimental branches of empirical science when one gives evidence to support some empirical generalization. But everybody knows, or ought to know, that in these contexts such formally invalid argument do not violate the rules of the game. My point here is simply to underscore the fact that, following Krabbe, there are two things and not just one that must done to prove a formally fallacy; and since these two things embody different claims, two distinct meta-arguments must be advanced in effective formal-fallacy criticism. Read more

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