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Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines

Volume 29, Issue 2, Summer 2014

Scott F. Aikin, Robert B. Talisse
Pages 60-67

Why We Argue: A Sketch of an Epistemic-Democratic Program

This essay summarizes the research program developed in our new book, Why We Argue (And How We Should): A Guide to Political Disagreement (Routledge, 2014). Humans naturally want to know and to take themselves as having reason on their side. Additionally, many people take democracy to be a uniquely proper mode of political arrangement. There is an old tension between reason and democracy, however, and it was first articulated by Plato. Plato’s concern about democracy was that it detached political decision from reason. Epistemic democrats attempt to show how the two can be re-attached. What is necessary is to couple the core democratic liberties with norms of rational exchange. Thus epistemology and argument provides a basis for democratic politics. Why We Argue (And How We Should) makes a case for the connection and develops a toolkit for maintaining it.

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