Marianne Doury, 16 May 2017, 10h

May 16, 2017

ArgLab Research Colloquium

Av. de Berna 26, I&D Building, First floor, room 1.05


The argumentative reference to the rule of justice in reactions to the 2015 terrorist attacks in France

Marianne Doury, CNRS/Université Paris 10-Nanterre, France


This presentation will focus on arguments based on an appeal to the rule of justice (according to which cases falling within the same category must be treated in a similar way, Perelman & Olbrechts-Tyteca 1958). The appeal is present massively in the comments that followed the terrorist attacks (and centrally, the attack against Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket) that struck France since January 2015. These arguments, although based on a common principle, may be distinguished according to the groups of speakers who mobilize them as well as according to the conclusions they support:

-          If it had been the seat of Valeurs Actuelles [a very right-handed French Newspaper] that had been attacked rather than that of Charlie Hebdo, there would not have been such massive public reactions! [[]

-          On the injunctions addressed to the Muslim community to officially dissociate from the attacks: "When the Ku Klux Klan attacks black people, nobody asks all white people to dissociate themselves from their deeds" [Facebook]

-          "When one criticizes a Jew, it is called anti-Semitism, when one criticizes a Muslim, it is called freedom of expression" [Facebook]

I will identify some of the discursive markers that are currently associated with such appeals to the rule of justice. I will then try and distinguish two different variants of these arguments appealing to the rule of justice according to the argumentative line they contribute to elaborate. I will then suggest that such discourses are indicative of the tensions that currently pervading French society.

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