Abstract

How we interact with others is a vital part of the rhetorical practices of the sort of democracy the pragmatists hoped to create. This article examines growing evidence of the threat posed by partisanship to our attempts to critically analyze the claims of others, represented by “partisan perfect reasoning”—the habit of analyzing the claims of others in a fashion that preserves the presupposed reasonableness of our original positions. One path for dealing with the risk of such truncated habits of reasoning is the path of skepticism, represented by the “ironism” of Richard Rorty. This article constructs another possible path, the path of affirming all claims as a starting point for respectful dialogue and argument. Using the concepts of anekāntavāda and syādvāda from the Jaina tradition, this article argues that we can mitigate partisan perfect reasoning and foster respect for our conversational others through a novel orientation to rhetorical activity.

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