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11 June 2015

Strategic reading and legal argumentation.

by Stefan Goltzberg

Stefan Goltzberg has been selected to give a "long paper" at the 1st European Conference on Argumentation: Argumentation and Reasoned Action. 9-12 June 2015, Lisbon, Portugal.
The paper is about: Strategic reading and legal argumentation.
One of the hallmarks of legal argumentation is, according to Andrei Marmor, the fact that legal actors (judge, lawyers, etc.) need not be fully cooperative in interpreting the law or contract and may read it strategically. And this possibility of a strategic reading is supposed to be obvious to anyone engages in a legal relationship. This is why you hire a lawyer when you need to draft a contract: you know that your (marital or professional) partner(s) could one day read it carefully, without making an effort to cooperate when the wording, taken literally, is in your disfavour and/or in their favour. In other words, in a legal context you don’t have to respect Grice’s maxims when you can be better off violating them. You then explain to the judge that the contract needs to be enforced as it is written, independent of the maxims. This means that while in ordinary conversation, violating Grice’s maxims, is not accepted and is considered not nice – unless you are trying to be funny, ironical or any other (indirect) speech act that justifies the flouting –, you are perfectly entitled to violate some maxims in order to make your claim in a legal context.

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