After Mosteller and Wallace: Authorship of the Federalist Papers

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In this paper I have attempted to put into practice some of Lakoff’s (1994) ideas with respect to conceptual metaphor, but specifically applying them to authorship attribution. I have tried to test the tentative conclusion reached earlier that the conceptual metaphor found in the Disputed papers indicated authorship by Madison rather than Hamilton by the simple device of computing the frequency of words relating to key metaphorical concepts. Additionally, I have I believe successfully inferred from Madison’s writings certain key attitudinal differences between him and Hamilton with regard to questions relating to human dignity and general human, including international, relations, which questions I believe support the conjecture that Madison rather than Hamilton is the author of the Disputed papers. As a result of this investigation I suggest that the method proposed here, perhaps in conjunction with appropriate statistical models such as those conducted by Mosteller and Wallace, can — in some cases —provide a sound basis for authorship attribution of disputed text, if texts of similar register, type and genre are being compared.

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