ACLC Seminar | Henrike Jansen: Implicit elements in an “I’m not stupid” argument
februari 3 @ 4:15 pm - 5:30 pm
Organized by the Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication! (ACLC)
- Speaker: Henrike Jansen
- Location: P.C. Hoofthuis
- Room: PCH1.15
- Title: Implicit elements in an “I’m not stupid” argument
- Abstract: This paper presents an analysis and evaluation of what I call the “I’m not stupid” argument. “I’m not stupid” arguments are typically used in a formal or informal context of accusation and defense, by defendants who argue that they did not commit the act they have been accused of. This type of argument has ancient roots, which lie in Aristotle’s famous description of the weak man’s and strong man’s arguments, who defended themselves against an accusation of having started a fight. The weak man said that he is not to blame, since it is unlikely that a weak person would attack someone who is obviously much stronger. In turn, the stronger man said that he knew his physical superiority would make him a suspect, therefore it is implausible that he acted as the initiator (Rhetoric 1402a17-22; see Freese 1975, p. 335; cf. Kennedy 2007, pp. 188-189). The analysis of the “I’m not stupid” argument takes the shape of an argumentative pattern, which displays a full-fledged representation of its argumentation structure. The pattern could be reconstructed on the basis of a collection of ten contemporary instances of an “I’m not stupid” argument. Although ten instances constitute a small collection, the wide variation in the argumentative elements that they express explicitly or leave implicit made it possible to identify eight new premises in comparison with previous analyses of the weak man’s and strong man’s arguments (Walton, Tindale and Gordon 2014; Walton 2019). These new premises show that the crucial point of an evaluation of this argument is the arguer’s supposedly rational character in making a gain-loss calculation.