Baltic accent

2020 Vol. 11 № 4

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Argumentum ad morti in the violence discourse: the semantics and pragmatics of ‘radical’ argumentation



The appeal to death is a type of argument that either explicitly or implicitly invokes hu­man finitude. This rhetorical device contributes to the credibility of requests, wishes, etc., or blocks communication. The illocutionary power of the appeal to death is determined by the means it uses, which range from inductive generalisation and deductions to approaching the limit of this generalisation, to the threat of going beyond the existential boundaries of the dis­course, to the problem domain losing its existential status, and to the threat being carried out. All of them make communication insignificant and the subject, or even the opponent, non-existent. This style of argumentation is peculiar to ‘pre-logical’ communities where the logical culture of social communication is underdeveloped and unwanted, where an instrumental appeal is made not to the law but force, not to freedom but arbitrariness.


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