Bad Questions Lead to Bad Democracy

Posted on 9 October 2017 by Lani Watson

In a previous post, I discussed the essential role that questions play in the political landscape of contemporary democracy. The ability to ask questions, and to ask good ones at that, facilitates participation in political discussion and debate, allows us to gather information that speaks to our concerns, and those of our communities, and enables
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Good Democracy Needs Good Questions

Posted on 25 September 2017 by Lani Watson

“If you were president, what would you do about Syria and the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo?” This question was asked to both candidates at the second U.S. presidential debate, during the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. As per the ‘town-hall’ format of the debate, the question was asked by a member of the public,
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The Ethics of Linguistic Plurality

Posted on 11 September 2017 by Matteo Bonotti

A guest post from co-authors Matteo Bonotti (Cardiff University) and Yael Peled (McGill University) How we think about language tends to significantly influence, if not shape, how we think about the political ethics of language, namely how we theorize language when considering the empirical and normative dimensions of political life.
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The Vices of Truthlessness

Posted on 28 August 2017 by Charlie Crerar

From ‘post-truth’, to ‘fake news’, to ‘alternative facts’, truthlessness is everywhere at the moment. These phenomena present us with a huge array of questions. How do we separate fact from fiction? How can we tell which sources of information are credible? Is there even such a thing as objective truth?
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Arguing Virtuously

Posted on 14 August 2017 by Andrew Aberdein

I recently found out that I had been collecting books by accident. Rearranging some shelves, I discovered I had several books with similar titles, all acquired at different times, and for different reasons, but with a strikingly similar theme: Winning Arguments; How to Win An Argument; How to Win Every Argument; The Art of Always
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Hubris as Prime Ministerial Vice

Posted on 31 July 2017 by Ian Kidd

When Theresa May’s snap election backfired decimating her majority, many commentators were quick to use a language of vices to describe her errors. ‘May’s astounding arrogance has now paved the way for another General Election’, complained the Independent, echoing attacks by the Guardian and Mirror of the various forms of arrogance in the Prime Minister’s
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Rallying the troops versus quieting the indignation

Posted on 3 July 2017 by Gregory Maio

A new National Rifle Association (NRA) video advertisement in the United States sparked controversy this week. Critics indicated that the emotive ad barely falls short of calling for violent action against liberals, while further diminishing the potential for productive dialogue between left-wing and right-wing advocates.
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What we’ve got here is failure to communicate

Posted on 19 June 2017 by Mark Alfano

Debate is a social process of interactive communication. We can distinguish at least four roles associated with parties to a debate. First, there are the debaters themselves — at least two of them, but possibly more. Second, there is the moderator of the debate. Third, there are the partisan audiences affiliated with each debater. Fourth,
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Collaboration versus point scoring

Posted on 5 June 2017 by Alessandra Tanesini

Last Monday we held the first workshop associated with the project Changing Attitudes in Public Debate. The workshop was by invitation and designed to bring together some philosophers, social psychologists and linguists that analyse the verbal and non-verbal aspects of conversations.
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Reducing arrogance in debate

Posted on 19 May 2017 by Alessandra Tanesini

In many Western democracies, public opinion seems to have become bitterly divided over increasingly divisive topics like immigration, Brexit, and the qualities of Donald J. Trump. People whose convictions are strongly opposed to each other treat discussions as duels or shouting matches.
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