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Legal argumentation in Mesopotamia since Ur III

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In this paper, I show that we can find some foundations of logic and legal argumentation in the tablets of Mesopotamia at least since the dynasty of Ur III. In these texts, we see the oldest correct application of logical inference rules (e.g. modus ponens). As concerns the legal argumentation established in Mesopotamia, we can reconstruct on the basis of the tablets the following rules of dispute resolutions during trials: (1) There are two parties of disputants: (i) a protagonist who formulates a standpoint and (ii) an antagonist who disagrees with the protagonist’s standpoint and formulates an alternative statement. (2) There is a rational judge represented by high-ranking citizens who should follow only logical conclusions from facts and law articles as premises.

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Keywords: Mesopotamia; Ur III; argumentum ad hominem; inference rule; legal argumentation; legal proceeding; modus ponens; rhetorical question; rhetorical tropes

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 28, 2020

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