November 23, 2004

To the 1101 Rhetors

I'm about to hop on a plane headed to Alabama (well, Memphis, TN really, where my mom will pick me up), but before I go, I want to express some concern about some of the recent content around here. The goal of good argumentation is to reach what philosopher Jürgen Habermas calls a "rational-critical consensus," or the most reasonable solution to a problem, as the authors of our textbook put it. What that means is this: Interlocutors (participants) in any given discussion need to make a sincere, considerate effort to understand the positions of those who do not agree with them and engage the positions thoughtfully and respectfully. Some of what's up here now is not doing this, a point which has already been discussed here, but one we clearly need to revisit.

So, here's what I'd like you to do before you click "Save" (or "Post" in the case of comments). Ask yourself: Are my words thoughtful, sincere, and respectful? Have I made a good-faith effort to understand the positions of the interlocutors who disagree with me? Could someone who disagrees with my position interpret my words as baiting? Have I represented my own position in a clear, reasonable, well-supported manner that invites a sincere, thoughtful, respectful response from the other participants in the discussion?

Posted by atNovember 23, 2004 10:44 AM