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Moody-Adams, Michele M., , . How to Disagree Without Being Disagreeable
2019, Catharsis 23
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Joe Slater

Abstract: It is tempting to assume that disagreements about the principles, policies and institutions that shape contemporary political life – especially the disagreements that emerge during contemporary political contests in the United States – are uniquely uncivil. But for much of human history, disagreement about such matters has often been a rough and tumble affair and the best evidence of this emerges in contests for political power. Unflattering epithets about political opponents can be found in hieroglyphics on the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs, and political insult and invective were common in political competitions in ancient Rome. Moreover, with the rise of the modern political campaign and increased sophistication and complexity in the means for transmitting and targeting campaign messages innuendo, rumor, and even outright character assassination, became familiar fixtures of political life.

Comment: Discusses disagreement in politics, and how disagreement can remain respectful. Also considers the decline of civility in discourse in America and why civil disagreement is important.

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Vermeulen, Inga, , . Verbal Disputes and the Varieties of Verbalness
2018, Erkenntnis 83(2): 331-348
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Ethan Landes

Abstract: Many philosophical disputes, most prominently disputes in ontology, have been suspected of being merely verbal and hence pointless. My goal in this paper is to offer an account of merely verbal disputes and to address the question of what is problematic with such disputes. I begin by arguing that extant accounts that focus on the semantics of the disputed statement S (Chalmers, Hirsch, Sider) do not capture the full range of cases as they might arise in philosophy. Moreover, these accounts bring in heavy theoretical machinery. I attempt to show that we can capture the full range of cases with an approach that is theoretically lightweight. This approach explains verbal disputes as a pragmatic phenomenon where parties use the same utterance type S with different speaker’s meaning. Moreover, it provides an answer to the crucial question Jackson’s (Erkenntnis 79:31-54, 2014) pragmatic account leaves, at best, highly implicit. Based on my account, we can distinguish between different ways in which disputes can be verbal and different extents to which they are defective. Distinguishing between these varieties of verbalness furthermore allows us to specify what kind of substantive issues remain to be discussed once the linguistic confusion is resolved.

Comment: Discusses verbal disputes and problems with existing accounts of verbal disputes, ultimately arriving on an account of verbal disputes that rely on speaker meaning. Far more accessible than other papers on the topic, and includes a number of thought examples of people talking past each other. Useful for introduction to the topic, but requires some background in philosophy of language.

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