Course “Argumentation in the Wild” at the University of Heidelberg

Colin Guthrie King and Jean Wagemans are teaching a course on argumentation at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Heidelberg. The course is entitled “Argumentation in the Wild” and follows the set-up of a textbook with the same title to be published by MIT Press.

There are many ways to persuade people. Some are physically coercive and thus (under normal circumstances) morally wrong. Others are non-physical and verbal in nature, but only some of these seem morally permissible. Unfortunately, abusive forms of verbal persuasion are widespread: e.g. propaganda, disinformation, misinformation (the misleading framing of real information), appeals to biases, and the use of fallacious reasoning. In light of the prevalence of such practices, an acute problem for philosophers is to clarify the conditions under which argumentation, the giving and taking of reasons without duress, is even possible, and what norms govern argumentation in its various settings. In this course, philosophers Colin Guthrie King and Jean Wagemans approach this problem with a view to non-ideal situations: argumentation in the wild. They will draw upon resources from the tradition of argument theory which goes back to antiquity, but the purpose of the lecture is to present a new approach to this old problem.

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