Disagreement or Badmouthing? The Role of Expressive Discourse in Politics

In Elizabeth Edenberg & Michael Hannon (eds.), Political Epistemology. Oxford: Oxford University Press (2021)
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A striking feature of political discourse is how prone we are to disagree. Political opponents will even give different answers to factual questions, which suggests that opposing parties cannot agree on facts any more than they can on values. This impression is widespread and supported by survey data. I will argue, however, that the extent and depth of political disagreement is largely overstated. Many political disagreements are merely illusory. This claim has several important upshots. I will explore the implications of this idea for theories about voter misinformation, motivated reasoning, public reason liberalism, deliberative democracy, and a number of other issues.

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Michael Hannon
Nottingham University


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