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Durham e-Theses
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Legal Rhetoric in Plato and Aristotle

KONCZOL, MIKLOS (2013) Legal Rhetoric in Plato and Aristotle. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis deals with certain aspects of Aristotelian rhetoric, its relationship to earlier and contemporary authors, in particular to Plato, and its influence on Hellenistic rhetoric. The focus is on the theory of judicial rhetoric throughout.

In Chapter I, a reconstruction of Plato’s view of rhetoric is intended to set the background against which the characteristic traits of Aristotelian judicial rhetoric will be examined. It is argued that Plato is consistently hostile towards ‘ordinary’ rhetoric, i.e. rhetoric that is aimed at persuasion and accessible to the citizens of the polis without restrictions. He finds no place for this kind of rhetoric in a properly functioning society.

Chapter II focuses on Aristotle’s appraisal of judicial rhetoric: its possible function and relative value. The main contention of the chapter is that unlike Plato, Aristotle regards rhetoric as useful for eliciting just decisions. Aristotle does not, as often argued, limit the task of the courtroom orator to the discussion of facts, nor does he consider judicial rhetoric inferior to the deliberative branch.

Chapter III looks at what Aristotle calls the specific arguments of judicial rhetoric. Its aim is to clarify the theoretical tenets underlying the legal arguments discussed in the Rhetoric as well as their structure and way of functioning. It is argued that most of these arguments focus on the problem of intention, which also explains some of the links among them and how they allow for a smooth transition between questions of facts and lawfulness.

Chapter IV revisits the problem of Aristotelian influence on later judicial rhetoric, in particular on Hermagoras’ theory of issues (staseis). It examines the ways in which issues appear in the Rhetoric and compares them to their counterparts in the Rhetorica ad Alexandrum and Hermagoras’ (reconstructed) system, highlighting the points where Aristotle may have inspired later doctrine.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:rhetoric; Plato; Aristotle; legal argumentation
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Classics and Ancient History, Department of
Thesis Date:2013
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:17 Feb 2014 15:35

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