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Subject: AEJ 05 MarshC PR The Syllogism of Apologia: Rhetorical Stasis Theory and Crisis Communication
From: Elliott Parker <[log in to unmask]>
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This paper was presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and
Mass Communication in San Antonio, Texas August 2005.
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Elliott Parker
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The Syllogism of Apologia:
Rhetorical Stasis Theory and Crisis Communication



Charles Marsh
William Allen White Foundation Professor
Associate Professor


William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications
University of Kansas






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The Syllogism of Apologia:
Rhetorical Stasis Theory and Crisis Communication

Abstract
	Rhetorical stasis theory – the process of identifying a debate's 
core issue – can provide a hierarchical structure for crisis response 
strategies. The author proposes that the accusation in a crisis 
situation – the kategoria -- has a syllogistic form, allowing crisis 
managers to decide whether to attack an accusation at its minor 
premise level, major premise level or conclusion. Stasis theory 
posits three content-related issues categories. This paper connects 
current crisis communication options to those three staseis.
The Syllogism of Apologia:
Rhetorical Stasis Theory and Crisis Communication


I. 	Introduction
	For approximately 20 years, scholars of crisis communication have 
called for additional research into "the dynamics of the crisis 
response process – the factors that shape the selection of the crisis 
response" (Coombs & Holladay, 2001, p. 321). In Accounts, Excuses and 
Apologies (1995), Benoit recalls Ryan's (1982) earlier exploration of 
stasis theory, from classical rhetoric, and concludes, "Surely this 
cannot be considered to be an exhaustive analysis of this phenomenon" 
(p. 167). This paper, while not purporting to be exhaustive, seeks to 
increase the application of rhetorical stasis theory to modern crisis 
communication, particularly to the concept of "corporate apologia" 
(Hearit, 2001). Ideally, the application of stasis theory to 
corporate apologia would help a crisis manager select the most 
effective response strategy as well as identify specific 
communication options within that strategy.

II. 	Definition of Terms
	Public relations scholars' increasing interest in methods of 
rhetorical analysis (Toth & Heath, 1992; Elwood 1995; Toth, 2000) has 
led to the importation of terms from classical Greek that no doubt 
function better in scholarship with some front-end definitions. This 
section will – as concisely as possible – review the concepts of 
stasis, apologia, kategoria and related terms.

	Stasis Theory
	In the first century BCE, the Greek rhetorician Hermagoras proposed 
a system of stasis – of issue identification in a debate – that has 
endured for millennia. Though Hermagoras' work on stasis is lost, 
Cicero (first century BCE) discusses it extensively in De Inventione 
as do Quintilian (first century CE) in Institutio Oratoria and an 
author termed Pseudo Augustine in a seventh century manuscript called 
De Rhetorica, the original of which may have been much earlier 
(Dieter & Kurth).
	Stasis is part of the invention phase of rhetoric. Rhetoric, 
according to Aristotle, is "the faculty of observing in any given 
case the available means of persuasion" (1355b). Cicero, Quintilian 
and the unknown author Ad Herennium, a first century BCE rhetoric 
handbook, agree that rhetoric has five parts: invention, arrangement, 
expression, memory, and delivery. Invention is the art of discovering 
the content of a forthcoming oration – not the words but the ideas. 
When the rhetorical act involves a debate and an eventual judgment by 
an audience of one or many, stasis theory helps identify the core 
issue – the key question or source of disagreement upon which 
judgment must be rendered. With a debate's stasis established, an 
orator could move deeper into the invention phase, seeking and 
refining the ideas that would develop his or her side of the issue.
	Hubbell (1976), M. Heath (1995, p. 19) and Russell (1983, p. 40) 
join others in simply defining stasis as issue. "The 'issue," Cicero 
writes in De Inventione, "is the first conflict of pleas which arises 
from the defense or answer to our accusation, in this way: 'You did 
it'; 'I did not do it,' or 'I was justified in doing it'" (I.vii.10). 
Braet (1987) notes that stasis generally is established by the party 
on the defensive, the party that replies to the initial charge. From 
analyses in Cicero, Quintilian and Pseudo Augustine, we can say with 
some certainty that Hermagoras established four possible staseis, the 
first three of which are clearly hierarchical (M. Heath, 1995):
" the stasis of stochasmos, or fact: Ulysses, you killed Teucer – I 
did not. The stasis would involve the question Did he do it? (If the 
defense cannot deny the action, it falls back to the next level of 
stasis: horos.)
" the stasis of horos, or definition: Orestes, you murdered your 
mother – Yes, but not all murder can be defined as unlawful; some 
murders can be justified. The stasis would involve the question Was 
this murder unlawful? (If the defense cannot contest the definition, 
it falls back to the next level of stasis: poiotes.)
" the stasis of poiotes, or quality: You committed sacrilege – Yes, I 
did, but there are extenuating circumstances that tend to excuse me. 
The stasis would involve the question How guilty is he/she? To what 
extent can we excuse this act?
" the stasis of metalepsis, or jurisdiction: You committed sacrilege 
– You have no right to try me; this is not the proper venue for such 
charges. The stasis would involve the question Do we have the right 
to render judgment, or are we not the proper judges?

Significantly, stasis theory also identifies specific communication 
options – substaseis – under each stasis.
	The original charge, from an accuser, was known as the kataphasis. 
The response was the apophasis, and the resulting question was the 
zetema. If true difference of opinion centers on the zetema, it 
becomes the stasis – the issue (Braet, 1987).
	As in the examples above, stasis almost always is described as a 
judicial function. However, Cicero (II.iv.12), Quintilian (III.vi.1) 
and Pseudo Augustine (p. 97) are adamant that stasis applies in each 
of the three realms of rhetoric described by Aristotle (1358b): 
forensic/judicial; deliberative/political; and epideictic/praise/blame.
	More than one modern scholar of crisis communication has discussed 
the concept of stasis without using that name. R. Heath and Millar, 
for example, note that each crisis is a narrative with a theme 
(conceivably, a stasis) and a contested plot (conceivably, a 
kataphasis, apophasis and related evidence) (Miller & Heath, 2004, p. 
12). Benoit maintains that when a crisis emerges, managers must 
understand not only the nature of the crisis but also the relevant 
accusations (what stasis theory terms kataphaseis) (Benoit, 2004).

	Apologia and Kategoria
	The concept of apologia is no doubt more familiar to scholars of 
crisis communication than is stasis. Ware and Linkugel (1973) define 
apologia as "the speech of self-defense" (p. 273), and Hearit (1994) 
adds the caveat that it should not be confused with apology: "An 
'apologia' is not an apology (although it may contain one), but a 
defense that seeks to present a compelling counter description of 
organizational actions" (p. 115). Benoit and Brinson (1994) define 
apologia as "a recurring type of discourse designed to restore face, 
image, or reputation after alleged or suspected wrong-doing" (p. 75). 
To link apologia to stasis theory, we could note that apologia is a 
specialized form of apophasis, one that responds to an accusation.
	Scholars tend to see apologia as a distinct rhetorical genre (Ware & 
Linkugel, 1973; Ryan, 1982; Huxman & Bruce, 1995). "The genre's 
overarching goal is one of image repair or policy restoration," write 
Huxman and Bruce (1995). "Specifically, apologists … seek to redefine 
the reality portrayed by their accusers" (p. 59). Apologia situations 
are crisis situations, and they seem to be increasing with the growth 
of organizations, institutions and modern media (Hearit, 1994; Huxman 
& Bruce, 1995).
	In discussing judicial oratory in his Rhetoric, Aristotle contrasts 
apologia with kategoria, an accusation (1358b). Traditionally, an 
apologia would not exist without a provoking, instigating kategoria 
(which was a specific, judicial accusatory form of kataphasis). Ryan 
(1982) adopted the term for contrast with modern apologia, and it has 
been taken up by Hearit and others to signify the accusation that 
provokes an apologia. As R. Heath and Millar (2004) note, a crisis is 
a rhetorical struggle for control. The opposed intentions inherent in 
kategoria and apologia illustrate that struggle.

III. 	Review of Literature
	A review of scholarship on the role of apologia in crisis 
communication reveals three trends of relevance to this paper: the 
evolution of apologia research; calls for integration of diverse 
theories; and the use and misuse of stasis theory.

	The Evolution of Apologia Research
	Much of the evolution of apologia deals with what Ware and Linkugel 
(1973) termed the "subgenres" (p. 274) or "postures" (p. 274) of 
apologia. Acknowledging the work of Abelson (1959), Ware and Linkugel 
identify four "factors" (p. 274) that shape the subgenres:
"	denial: directly challenging the facts of the accusation.
" 	bolstering: evading the charge by identifying oneself with 
something of which the judging audience approves.
" 	differentiation: separating an action or attribute from a larger 
context in which a judging audience views it.
"	transcendence: incorporating an action or attribute into a context 
in which a judging audience had not previously included it.

Ware and Linkugel then identify four factor-influenced subgenres of apologia:
		"	absolutive, which uses denial and differentiation to seek acquittal
		"	vindicative, which uses transcendence to "go beyond the specifics
of a given charge" (p. 283)
		"	explanative, which uses bolstering and differentiation in the
belief that if the judges understand the surrounding circumstances, 
they will not condemn
"	justificative, which uses bolstering and transcendence to justify actions.

Hearit (1997) maintains that Ware and Linkugel's factor-based 
subgenres "directed the development of study for the next twenty 
years" (p. 219)
	Ryan (1982) attempts with some success to link Ware and Linkugel's 
four postures to the four staseis. However, in striving to link their 
vindicative posture to the stasis of jurisdiction, Ryan seems to 
strain the comparison. He also echoes Kruse (1981) in holding that 
kategoria and apologia apply only to individuals, not institutions 
(p. 258n). Hearit (2001) later notes the influence of Cable, Sproule 
and Cheney in extending the concept of apologia to organizations.
	Throughout the 1990s and into the 21st century, Benoit has developed 
his concept of Image Restoration Discourse, a system of "5 general 
strategies and 14 total options" (2004, p. 65). Benoit's precisely 
named five general strategies (what Ware and Linkugel would term 
subgenres or postures) are denial; evasion of responsibility; 
reducing offensiveness of event; corrective action; and mortification 
(confessing and begging for forgiveness). Benoit presents his 
typology as a resource for crisis managers as much as an analysis: 
"The theory of image restoration focuses on message options" (1997, 
p. 178).  Lyon and Cameron (2004), among others, posit a difference 
between image – "how the company wants to be viewed" – and 
reputation, which "is owned by the publics" (p. 215).
	Like Benoit, Coombs (often with Holladay) has worked over the past 
decade to group potential "crisis response strategies" into three 
"postures" (2004, p. 99): deny; diminish (by reframing the crisis 
situation); and repair (by seeking "to improve the organization's 
image in some way" [2004, p. 99]). Huxman links crisis response 
strategies to Aristotle's three divisions of rhetoric: 
forensic/judicial; deliberative/political; and 
epideictic/praise/blame (2004, pp. 292-293). Hearit (2001) offers 
five "postures" (p. 504): denial; counterattack (which includes a 
denial of the kategoria); differentiation (in which organizations 
often blame and punish supposedly rogue associates); apology (not to 
be confused with apologia); and legal (involving denial and/or 
silence for legal reasons).
	Richer, more detailed analyses of the evolution of apologia theory 
appear in Benoit's Accounts, Excuses and Apologies (1995) and Millar 
and R. Heath's Responding to a Crisis: A Rhetorical Approach to 
Crisis Communication (2004).

	Calls for Integration of Diverse Theories
	As scholars continue to introduce more postures/subgenres as well as 
more communication options within each posture and more analyses of 
various crisis situations, many have called for an integration of 
theories – an overarching view of crisis situations, postures and 
specific communication options (Huxman & Bruce, 1995; Coombs & 
Holladay, 2001; Ihlen, 2002; Lyon & Cameron, 2004). Coombs and 
Holladay's Situational Crisis Communication Theory (SCCT), for 
example, is an attempt to bridge the gap between studies of crisis 
situations and crisis response (2002, 2004).

	The Use and Misuse of Stasis Theory
	Even with their focus on denial, justification and other elements of 
stasis, Ware and Linkugel (1973) do not mention that rhetorical 
theory. Ryan (1982) offers the first extensive application of stasis 
theory to apologia. That laudable effort is occasionally hampered by 
seeming misinterpretations of the theory, which Ryan attributes to 
Cicero (pp. 256, 257), though Cicero himself in De Inventione refers 
to Hermagoras' text (I.8 and I.16). Ryan also posits that a stasis 
can be established in the kategoria alone (256), rather than from the 
clash of accusation and response, as Hermagoras (Braet, 1987) and 
Cicero maintain (I.vii.10). Finally, Ryan suggests that the kategoria 
can contain multiple staseis (256, 259, 260); the article offers no 
indication of the hierarchical nature of the staseis of fact, 
definition and quality.
	Huxman and Bruce (1995) identify different staseis in the evolving 
debate regarding Dow Chemical's production of napalm. However, they 
cite Ryan in maintaining that "apologists will choose one or more of 
these levels of stasis" (p. 64) without noting that, within classical 
stasis theory, these would be presented hierarchically. In classical 
theory, a defendant would not offer a response to a stasis of 
quality, for example, until responses to staseis of fact and 
definition had been decided against or exhausted. Huxman and Bruce 
also hold that Hermagoras influenced Aristotle (p. 60). However, 
Aristotle lived approximately 300 years before Hermagoras.
	In their analysis of stasis and apologia in the Monica Lewinsky 
scandal, Kramer and Olson (2002) present a solid view of how a 
defendant – in this case, Bill Clinton – can move from the stasis of 
fact to those of definition and quality (in that hierarchical order) 
as accusations evolve. Kramer and Olson introduce the useful term 
progressive apologia (p. 347) to denote changes in apologia as a 
crisis situation evolves.

IV.	The Syllogism of Apologia
	Hermagoras' first three staseis – the three that address the 
potential content of the argument – form a perfect syllogism, as 
Aristotle presents that device in Prior Analytics and Posterior 
Analytics, works that predate Hermagoras.[1] By way of illustration, 
the following syllogism lists each premise as an assertion, a 
kataphasis or kategoria, and shows what a corresponding retort, an 
apophasis or apologia, might be. (Significantly, a true debate 
probably would start with the minor premise rather than the major 
premise, a point to which this paper will return below.)
Major premise:	Companies that damage the environment are socially 
irresponsible companies.
To economically supply life-saving products to consumers, a company 
must sometimes do some environmental damage – a stasis of definition.
Minor premise:	Exxon is a company that damaged the environment (of 
Prince William Sound).
						We did not damage the environment (of
Prince William Sound) – a stasis of fact.
		Conclusion:		 Exxon is a socially irresponsible company.
We did act somewhat irresponsibly, but we need to make you aware of 
certain extenuating, exculpatory circumstances. They show our wrong 
was not so great – a stasis of quality.
One difficulty, however, may seem to undermine the notion that the 
syllogism is the source of Hermagoras' four staseis: a syllogism has 
only three propositions, and Hermagoras has four staseis. But this 
may be easily set aside: Unlike the first three staseis, Hermagoras' 
fourth stasis (jurisdiction) is more a legal maneuver than a 
debate-based response in that it challenges only the circumstances of 
judging, not the truth of the accusation, the kataphasis or 
kategoria. In fact, Quintilian, after long consideration, rejected 
metalepsis (jurisdiction) as a fourth stasis, keeping only stochasmos 
(fact), horos (definition) and poiotes (quality) (III.vi.66-67).
Though we will stick with the more familiar term syllogism, this 
paper contends that the enthymeme (which Aristotle called "a 
rhetorical syllogism" [1356b]) provides the foundation of Hermagoras' 
staseis.[2] As Kennedy (1991, xii) notes, an Aristotelian enthymeme 
often was a syllogism (based on probability, not scientific 
certainty) that often suppressed one premise, usually the major 
premise. For example, an enthymeme would be "Exxon damaged the 
environment (of Prince William Sound) and is, therefore, socially 
irresponsible." The implied major premise, supplied by a 
knowledgeable audience, is "Companies that damage the environment are 
socially irresponsible."
For the following explanation, this diagram of Aristotelian 
terminology applied to our earlier syllogism may be useful. (A copy 
of this is attached as a final page to this paper; it can be removed 
to avoid paging back to this diagram.)

Major Premise
Companies that damage the environment
are socially irresponsible.
Middle term				       Major Term

Minor Premise
Exxon
is a company that damaged the environment (of Prince William Sound).
Minor term	    Middle Term

Conclusion
Exxon
is socially irresponsible.
Minor term	Major Term


	Stasis of Fact
In a rhetorical syllogism (an enthymeme), the speaker can begin with 
the minor premise; indeed, the major premise of the syllogism in all 
likelihood would not be stated, being, supposedly, conventional 
wisdom and left to the audience to supply (Cicero, I.xl.76; Corbett, 
49). Significantly, in the minor premise, we attach the middle term 
(companies that damage the environment) to our subject (Exxon). An 
accuser would support the attachment of the middle term to the 
subject; a defendant would deny the attachment, if possible. If the 
defendant organization does attack the attachment of the middle term 
to the subject – if it attacks the minor premise – the 
question/zetema becomes "Did Exxon damage the environment?" and we 
have a stasis of fact.
Modern critics note that contesting a kategoria (and thus 
establishing a stasis of fact) can be difficult because in crisis 
situations kategoriae can be vague or ambiguous (Huxman & Bruce, 
1995; Kramer and Olson, 2002). But refusing to respond to an 
"unfolding kategoria" (Kramer and Olson, p. 350) is not an option 
(Hearit, 1994; Ihlen, 2002). In holding that an attack has two 
components – "the accused is held responsible for an action" and 
"that act is considered offensive" – Benoit (1997, p. 178) shows how 
a kategoria can connect first to a stasis of fact ("responsible") and 
then, if necessary, to a stasis of definition ("offensive").
The stasis of fact can be seen in Hearit's notion of dissociation 
(1994, 1997, 2004): "The organization engages in dissociation to 
remove the linkage of the organization with the wrongdoing" (1994, p. 
115). In other words, the organization dissociates itself (minor 
term) from a particular action (middle term). If it cannot do that, 
it could attempt to dissociate the action (middle term) from a 
negative characterization (major term), which would be a stasis of 
definition. A classic example of a modern stasis of fact is GM's 
denial of Dateline NBC's charges regarding design flaws in GM pickup 
trucks (Hearit, 1996).

	The Stasis of Definition
	If the defendant organization cannot establish a stasis of fact – if 
Exxon did indeed damage the environment – that organization must next 
consider the major premise, which links the middle term to a 
characterization, a definition (the major term). In the case of our 
Exxon syllogism, the middle term ("companies that damage the 
environment") is linked to social irresponsibility, known generically 
as the major term. (The minor term is the subject of the minor 
premise – in this case, Exxon.) This terminology is important because 
it clarifies the function of a syllogism. Through the middle term, we 
attach the major term to the minor term in our conclusion; through 
the middle term, we logically attach a characterization to our 
subject. If we are the defendant, if we can disrupt the middle term 
we can escape judgment.
	This paper contends that the major term (the term of 
characterization or definition) in a Hermagorean enthymeme would grow 
out of the purpose of the involved speeches. Cicero (II.iv.12), 
Quintilian (III.iv), and Pseudo Augustine (p. 97) echo Aristotle's 
assertion (1358b) that three kinds of rhetorical speeches exist, each 
with its own broad purpose. Forensic/judicial speeches address what 
is just/unjust, legal/illegal or right/wrong. Deliberative/political 
speeches address what is advantageous/disadvantageous. 
Epideictic/praise/blame speeches address what is 
honorable/dishonorable.[3] With such unanimity of opinion on this 
point, it seems inescapable the middle term must attach our subject, 
the minor term, to the purpose of the speech (the major term). In the 
major premise, we define (thus the stasis of definition) the middle 
term by linking it to a characterization, classifying it as either 
good or bad. The goal of a rhetorical speech is to win a desired 
judgment on our subject – to attach (or destroy the attachment of) 
the major term to the minor term through the middle term. This is a 
long way of saying that the predicate of our major premise, our 
defining premise, must focus on justice, advantage or honor 
(individually or in combination) – or the reverse of those qualities. 
In the case of the Exxon syllogism, we focus on a mixture of 
injustice and dishonor: social irresponsibility.
	In the stasis of definition, a defendant must attack the attachment 
of the middle term to a negative characterization (the major term): 
Because Exxon probably could not deny that it damaged the environment 
of Prince William Sound, it could consider attacking the premise that 
all companies that damage the environment are socially irresponsible. 
The stasis now would involve the question/zetema "Are all such 
companies socially irresponsible?" If so, Exxon is guilty. If not, it 
may escape condemnation. Defendants can attack the major premise by 
establishing a syllogistic flaw known as "the fallacy of the 
undistributed middle." In brief, for a syllogism to be logical, the 
middle term at some point must be distributed – meaning that the 
middle term in at least one of its appearances must apply to 
everything that it conveys: not some companies that damage the 
environment, but all companies that damage the environment. If the 
defendant can show that the middle term has not been distributed – 
that some companies can damage the environment without being socially 
irresponsible – the syllogism is fatally damaged, and the defendant 
could escape negative judgment. The major premise cannot logically 
attach to the minor premise through a damaged middle term.
	A second, less likely defense strategy would be to deny the 
attachment of the distributed middle term to the negative 
characterization (major term) – to say, for example, that damaging 
the environment is not socially irresponsible. In rhetorical 
syllogisms (enthymemes), the major premise is usually unstated 
because it represents conventional wisdom. It represents the unstated 
truism that automatically leads a judging public to connect the minor 
premise to the conclusion. Denying the entire truth of the major 
premise would be a radical strategy.
If the defendant organization does attack the attachment of the 
middle term to the major term – if it attacks the major premise – the 
question/zetema becomes "Can some environmentally damaging acts be 
socially responsible? (Was Exxon's one of them?)," and we have a 
stasis of definition.
Differentiation, as developed by Ware and Linkugel, approaches a 
definition-related apologia. Differentiation, again, involves 
separating an action or attribute from a larger context –such as the 
major term – in which a judging audience views it. Hearit (1997, p. 
220) and Benoit (1995, pp. 77-78) both note that transcendence 
(incorporating an action or attribute into a context in which a 
judging audience had not previously included it) can involve 
redefining an act by appealing to higher values. A related concept is 
Hearit's contention that crises often are "terminological" events "in 
which crisis managers attempt to control the terms used to describe 
corporate actions" (1994, p. 122). In our syllogism of apologia, we 
might say that in the stasis of definition managers attempt to break 
the connection of the middle term to the major term.
A modern example of the stasis of definition is Huxman and Bruce's 
analysis of Dow Chemical's defense of napalm production: "At the 
stasis of definition, the debate pivoted around two questions: 'Is 
napalm a hideous weapon of war or a needed chemical to help America 
win the war?' and 'Is Dow a war profiteer or a dutiful supplier of 
goods to the government?'" (1995, p. 66).


	The Stasis of Quality
Defendants who cannot contest the facts of the accusation (the stasis 
of fact) nor the definitional attachment of the fact to a 
characterization (the stasis of definition) must retreat to the 
stasis of quality if they still wish to contest the conclusion of the 
rhetorical syllogism. Through the middle term, the major term 
(characterization) has attached to the defendant organization (the 
minor term). Now that organization can only show why that attachment, 
though true, is weak. For example, if Exxon did damage the 
environment of Prince William Sound (minor premise) and does agree 
that companies that damage the environment are socially irresponsible 
(major premise), then its only defense is to present extenuating 
and/or exculpatory circumstances that lessen the connection of the 
major term (social irresponsibility) to the minor term  (Exxon).
If the defendant organization accepts but wishes to weaken the 
attachment of the major term ("socially irresponsible") to the minor 
term (Exxon) through the middle term, the question/zetema becomes "Do 
these circumstances warrant a lessening of the attachment of the 
negative characterization to the defendant?" In that case, we have a 
stasis of quality.
Kruse's "non-denial apologia" (1977, p. 13) seems an apt term for a 
defendant's speech in a stasis of quality. In a stasis of quality, we 
have conceded the attachment of the negative characterization (major 
term) to our organization (minor term) through the middle term. Lyon 
and Cameron (2004) and Benoit (2004) are among the scholars who 
believe that guilty organizations fare best by moving straight to an 
acknowledgment of guilt – bypassing, in other words, the staseis of 
fact and definition.
In a stasis of quality, a defendant's best hope is to somehow lessen 
the degree of guilt. A modern example of the stasis of quality 
involves Food Lion grocery chain's counterattack against ABC News 
(Hearit, 2001). Food Lion representatives did not deny the charges of 
selling substandard products; instead, they attacked ABC's tactics in 
gathering the evidence for its report.

	This, then, is the form of the rhetorical syllogism that this paper 
contends shaped the first three staseis of Hermagoras:
" a stated minor premise that makes a specific claim, attaching the 
minor term to the middle term – the stasis of fact
" a major premise, stated only if the defendant cannot refute the 
minor premise, that attaches the middle term to a characterization 
(major term) – the stasis of definition
" a conclusion that attaches the characterization (major term) to our 
original subject, the minor term – the stasis of quality.

Hermagoras' fourth stasis – jurisdiction – moves beyond this 
syllogism, beyond the details of the crisis situation, to challenge 
the legitimacy of the judges, official or unofficial.  Kramer and 
Olson (2002) describe Bill Clinton's establishment of a stasis of 
jurisdiction during the Monica Lewinsky scandal: "The president 
suggested that the American public [not the courts] should be the 
ultimate judge of the matter" (p. 361).

V.	The Place of Stasis Theory and the Syllogism of Apologia
in Current Criticism
	Both Ilhen (2002) and Benoit (2004) speculate that specific crisis 
response strategies (Ware and Linkugel's subgenres or postures) might 
be stations in a hierarchical spectrum of possible responses. 
Envisioning the concept of stasis as a syllogism helps show how such 
strategies can indeed be hierarchical. Table 1 (below) places the 
specific crisis response strategies of Coombs and Holladay within the 
three main staseis. Table 2 (below) does the same for Benoit's Image 
Restoration Discourse strategies. Significantly, both charts show a 
preponderance of options under the stasis of quality as well as a 
relative lack of options for the stasis of definition. Both charts 
also indicate an absence of jurisdiction-related strategies – such as 
suggesting that the accuser has no right to bring the charges or that 
the judges have no right to render judgment.

Table 1: The Crisis Response Strategies of Coombs and Holladay (2004)

	A.	Stasis of fact
		1. Clarification – denies crisis happened
		2. Shifting blame – acknowledges crisis; rejects responsibility
		3. Attack – levels charges against accusers[4]
	
	B.	Stasis of definition
		1. Big picture – (actually a substrategy under "justification"); 
places crisis in a larger,
     absolving context


	C. 	Stasis of quality
		1. Excuse – minimizes responsibility for crisis
		2. Justification – accepts responsibility but limits negativity
		3. Suffering – shows that organization is also a victim
		4. Bolstering – reminds stakeholders of previous good deeds
		5. Praising others – flatters judging stakeholders
		6. Compensation – offers gifts to counterbalance the crisis
		7. Corrective action – restores order and promises to avoid similar crises
		8. Apology – accepts responsibility and asks for forgiveness




Table 2: Benoit's Image Restoration Discourse Strategies

	A.	Stasis of fact
		1. Simple denial
		2. Shift the blame – defendant attributes act to another
		3. Attack accuser[5]
	
	B.	Stasis of definition
		1. Differentiation – defendant defines act as less offensive than 
similar occurrences
		2. Transcendence – defendant had to honor more important considerations

	C. 	Stasis of quality
1. Provocation – defendant responded to act of another (could be 
definition if this
     response honors a higher value)
2. Defeasibility – extenuating circumstances lessen guilt (could be 
denial if circumstances
    absolve the defendant)
3. Accident – defendant was victim of mishap
4. Good intentions – defendant meant well
5. Bolstering – defendant stresses good traits
6. Minimization – defendant minimizes act
7. Compensation – defendant reimburses victims
8. Corrective action – defendant fixes problem, works to prevent repeats
9. Mortification – defendant apologizes



Coombs and Holladay (2004) note that by understanding how response 
strategies relate to different crisis situations, a crisis manager is 
better prepared to respond effectively. By positing a hierarchical 
system of staseis, stasis theory and its related syllogism help the 
manager identify the core issue of the forthcoming debate. And as the 
above reconfigurations of the Coombs/Holladay and Benoit strategies 
show, once the crisis manager identifies the stasis, he or she can 
then identify the possible response strategies.

VI.	Limitations of Stasis Theory and the Syllogism of Apologia
	As noted earlier, scholars of crisis communication have called for 
an integration of theories – an overarching view of crisis 
situations, postures and specific communication options. Stasis 
theory and the related syllogism of apologia are a step in that 
direction: By envisioning the debate within the crisis situation as a 
syllogism, crisis managers can identify the contested issue and can 
envision the range of relevant response strategies. However, the 
establishment of the stasis is not the only variable in crafting an 
effective crisis response. Coombs and Holladay (2001) note that an 
organization's relationship histories and crisis histories are key 
variables that affect crisis response. Lyon and Cameron (2004) show 
that the organization's reputation is another important variable. 
Huxman (2004) lists nine variables, including the extent of the 
crisis, the power of the accusers and the visual dimension of the 
crisis. Hearit (2001) maintains that issues of legal liability 
receive insufficient attention in studies of crisis response.
	A limitation of this paper, due to length, is the absence of the 
classical substaseis – the response strategies crafted under each 
stasis by centuries of commentators. A future direction for stasis 
theory research could involve comparing and contrasting those 
strategies with the response strategies of Benoit, Coombs and 
Holladay and others.

VII.	Conclusion
In Millar and R. Heath's Responding to a Crisis: A Rhetorical 
Approach to Crisis Communication, Huxman (2004) recommends that "we 
emulate the drive of the Ancients for a systematic, coherent body of 
thought" in regard to apologia. In a sense, this paper proposes a 
much lazier alternative. Rather than emulate the drive of the 
Ancients, perhaps we should thoroughly explore their theories – 
applied in the very real rough-and-tumble beginnings of modern 
judicial systems and democracies – and see if the Ancients, by 
chance, have done our work for us. Though rhetorical stasis theory, 
with its syllogistic structure, does not (yet) incorporate all the 
variables of the crisis situation, it does offer crisis managers a 
logical template for examining the range of crisis response strategies.

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The Syllogism

Major Premise
Companies that damage the environment
are socially irresponsible.
Middle term				       Major Term

Minor Premise
Exxon
is a company that damaged the environment (of Prince William Sound).
Minor term	    Middle Term

Conclusion
Exxon
is socially irresponsible.
Minor term	Major Term



[1]  The author(s) of this paper develop his/her/their theory of the 
syllogistic origins of stasis more fully in a paper presented to the 
2005 conference of the International Society for the History of 
Rhetoric: Of all the evidence suggesting that Hermagoras knowingly 
based his theory of stasis on the syllogism, the most persuasive 
comes from Cicero, Quintilian, and Pseudo Augustine, three teachers 
of rhetoric who had read Hermagoras. Each notes the connection of 
three of Aristotle's epistemological questions to Hermagoras' theory 
of stasis (Cicero, De Oratore, II.xxxvi; Quintilian, III.vi.44 and 
III.vi.80; Pseudo Augustine, p. 100): whether it is (fact); what it 
is (definition); and of what kind it is (quality) (Quintilian, 
III.vi.44). Aristotle introduced his four epistemological questions 
(does it exist? what is it? what are its attributes? why does it have 
those attributes?) in Posterior Analytics at the beginning Book II – 
in the middle of a discussion of syllogisms. Jonathan Barnes, a 
translator of Posterior Analytics, notes the direct connection of the 
questions to the syllogism: "[Aristotle's four questions] do indeed 
cover all the questions which a demonstrator might ask in connection 
with any given syllogistic proposition…. And [Book II, Chapter 2, of 
Posterior Analytics] makes it clear that only syllogistic 
propositions are in question" (p. 203). Near the beginning of Book II 
of Posterior Analytics, Aristotle ties the four questions to a 
syllogism's middle term – the term that appears in both premises but 
not the conclusion: "It follows, then, that in all these questions we 
are asking either 'Is there a middle term?' or 'What is the middle 
term?'" (90a). Therefore, if Hermagoras wrote of the epistemological 
questions, which seems likely, and if he read of them in Aristotle, 
with whose work he was familiar (Kennedy, 1963, p. 304), Hermagoras 
would have read of the four questions within the context of the syllogism.

[2]  Hermagoras' probable familiarity with Aristotle (Kennedy, 1963, 
304) offers another reason to believe that the syllogism may have 
shaped his theory of stasis. In Rhetoric, which contains numerous 
passages that foreshadow Hermagorean stasis (e.g. 1358b and 1374a), 
Aristotle speaks repeatedly of the centrality of the enthymeme, or 
the rhetorical proof: "[E]nthymemes … are the substance of rhetorical 
persuasion" (1354a). In his introduction to Aristotle's Rhetoric, 
Kennedy writes, "A major doctrine of the Rhetoric is the use of the 
enthymeme, or rhetorical syllogism" (xii). Hermagoras could not have 
read Aristotle's Rhetoric without being exposed to the enthymeme. 
This paper contends that he observed the similarity of the enthymeme 
to a kataphasis or kategoria.

[3]  Fortenbaugh (2005) notes that Aristotle allows the possibility 
of combining purposes: For example, a deliberative speech could 
address what is both advantageous and honorable (p. 41).
[4]  Attack would help establish a stasis of fact if, as Hearit 
(2001) believes, it includes a denial of the kategoria. If not, this 
strategy might be seen as asystatic – not part of a true stasis debate.
[5]  Again, attack would help establish a stasis of fact if, as 
Hearit (2001) believes, it includes a denial of the kategoria. If 
not, this strategy might be seen as asystatic – not part of a true 
stasis debate.

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