Home > Decent Democracy > Vol 2: On Democracy > Ethical Discourse

Ethical Discourse

In the modern world we are accustomed to view argument as a form of conflict or battle. And though it may seem ideas battle against each other, it is unnecessary to view argument as actual conflict.

In most subjects, it becomes clear if a participant is unwilling to review their position and that debate with them is no longer constructive: they can simply be avoided or ignored from then on. Of course one must be sure that it really is the other party unwilling to review their position and likewise be sure that their position has clear contradictions to resolve, before deciding to ignore the person can be considered an unfortunate necessity, but it is impossible to avoid so doing from time to time. However, insofar as the subject is of little consequence in any case, the risk of avoiding potentially constructive debate is minimized by the trivial nature of the subject. For instance, if we are debating the best set of rules for a new board game, perhaps as some point the discussion no longer advances and one of us decides to no longer participate in the conversation because of the reasoning above; in this case we can both simply develop our own version of the game and attract others to play. We can simply ignore each other on the issue and get on with our own plans.

However, when the consequences of the issue are not trivial and no participant is simply willing to ignore the actions of the others, what we can call an ethical debate (as opposed to a preference debate where different preferences are an acceptable outcome for all involved), there is often the assumption of all parties involved that no one will ever review their position.

In particular, a mix of main stream media and corporate and other legal entities "created to argue a certain position and to never be able to change" enforces this idea that ethical debates are about "winning" by manipulation, lobbying and / or bribing lawmakers etc.

As soon as ethical debate becomes about winning, there is no longer any ethical debate possibly: only manipulation. As already seen, manipulation requires dependence and to create a decentralized economy requires a general independence of mind; and so "trying to win debates" rather than "get to the bottom of things and build understanding" is incompatible with this decent political project.


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