Presumptions in late 16th-century treatises

Research Project

What is a presumption, and why was this argumentative form so prevalent in the period from the late 16th century to the early codifications? Starting from a text-based inquiry on Jacopo Menochio's treatise De praesumptionibus (1587) and a constellation of similar works published at that time, this research seeks an answer (1) in the rationalisation of judicial practices that demanded verifiable and logically appropriate patterns of reasoning in deciding upon facts; and (2) in the growing need for normative statements expressed in an impersonal presumptive form. Methodologically, this study attempts to bring to unity the multidisciplinary thinking of early-modern jurists on the cusp of law, moral theology, rhetoric and natural philosophy. This is the ambitious attempt to explain the methodological evolution that connected the fluid legal systems of the ius commune to early 18th-century codifications.

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