Populism and the virtues of argument

In Gregory R. Peterson, Michael Berhow & George Tsakiridis (eds.), Engaging Populism: Democracy and the Intellectual Virtues. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 147-163 (2022)
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This chapter argues that a virtue-theoretic account of argumentation can enhance our understanding of the phenomenon of populism and offer some lines of response. Virtue theories of argumentation emphasize the role of arguers in the conduct and evaluation of arguments and lay particular stress on arguers’ acquired dispositions of character, otherwise known as intellectual virtues and vices. One variety of argumentation of particular relevance to democratic decision-making is group deliberation. There are both theoretical and empirical reasons for maintaining that intellectual humility is pivotal to the practice of group deliberation. Several factors to which the rise of populism has been attributed may be understood as failures of the virtues of argumentation in general, and intellectual humility in particular.

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Andrew Aberdein
Florida Institute of Technology


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