Right Rhetoric: What Lawyers May Learn from the Study of Rhetoric
LIBER AMICORUM DE GUY HAARSCHER: QU'EST-CE QUE LA PHILOSOPHIE DROIT?, Forthcoming
9 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2011
Date Written: August 19, 2011
This paper was written for a Festschrift honoring Guy Haarscher of the Free University of Brussels. It addresses Haarscher's analysis of the rhetorical efforts by religious fundamentalists to limit the scope of rhetorical exchanges, and particularly their use of psuedo-argument. I commend Haarscher's analysis, but question his conclusions about the famous Scopes trial. William Jennings Bryan was justifiably offended by the racist eugenics in the biology book being used by Scopes, and so we should not be too quick to brand the Christian perspective as unsuitable to contemporary rhetorical exchange. Haarscher is correct that rhetorical argumentation must have integrity and rise above sophism, a thesis that he demonstrates clearly in challenging the politically correct rhetoric of some on the left. I conclude that Haarscher's balanced and thoughtful approach to public discourse is precisely what contemporary society requires.
Keywords: Rhetoric, Guy Haarscher, Chaim Perelman, Hans-Georg Gadamer, William Jennings Bryan, Clarence Darrow, Eugenics, Evolution, Law and Religion
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