Speaker's Series Oct. 2

Friday, October 2, 2020 - 15:00

Centre for Research in Reasoning, Argumentation & Rhetoric along with the PhD in Argumentation Studies at the University of Windsor invite you to a talk by

William E. Conklin

Faculty of Law, University of Windsor

“The Phenomenal Third”

Universalism, as manifested by international human rights and peremptory norms, has been accompanied with the idea that social and political conflicts with such universalism must be resolved with reference to an impartial and disinterested third-party which thinks, deliberates, justifies and renders a decision about the conflict. Justice has been assumed to rest with such a third party. The Third is manifested by judges, arbitrators, testators, directors of corporations, university administrators, professors, financial advisors, parents and more. The role of the Third is prominent in legal scholarship about the ‘rule of law’. The expectation is raised that gestural meaning, rituals, beliefs, convictions and attitudes must be excluded from the legal discourse. In addition, the role of the Third has extended to everyone within the jurisdiction assigned to the Third. Without general rules, we have been led to believe that arbitrary subjectivism will result.
This Paper will introduce the implications of the rational Third for the presumed boundary to legal knowledge. This presumed boundary is immanent in every area of law and legal reasoning. The boundary, in particular, excludes perceptions experienced by the third-party, the litigant and pluralistic legal orders submerged inside the state-centric legal order. I shall argue that the role of the rational third opens into ruptures in legal reasoning. The cavities of the ruptures are embodied with non-signifying and therefore pre-intellectual experienced events. Such a concealed world in a signifying discourse such as law raises the need for a phenomenal third. My Paper aims to unconceal the Phenomenal Third that the ‘rule of law’ Third (and law teaching) has hitherto submerged in its language.
The issue I am presenting is not an ‘either-or’. The rational Third works within a discourse that displaces and submerges the Phenomenal Third. If the boundary of legal knowledge is recognized for what it is – the product of reified concepts – and if the boundary that includes and excludes others is displaced by a Phenomenal Third, then the prospect appears of the possibility of a Phenomenal Third in future adjudication, arbitration and law teaching. 

Friday, October 2, 2020


Weekly presentations conducted via Zoom. Please contact us at crrar@uwindsor.ca for more information.