2023 Scholarly Event:
Argumentation in the
Power and Politics of Democracy
June 7-9, 2023
Portuguese with English Slides
Catarina Dutilh Novaes
Title: The (ir)rationality of propaganda
Propaganda is typically understood as communication that is used primarily to influence or persuade an audience to adopt certain opinions and behaviors, often in the context of politics and public discourse. In common parlance, the term ‘propaganda’ tends to have very negative connotations; propagandistic discourse is viewed as based on lies and deceit, and as aiming at emotional manipulation of the masses exclusively for the benefit of the propagandist. Thus understood, propaganda is often contrasted with rational discourse, in particular reasoned argumentation, which purportedly aims at the truth and does not mislead its audience. In a nutshell, propaganda is ‘bad’ while rational argumentation is ‘good’, and the two categories are sharply distinguished.
In this talk, I argue that this dichotomy is overly simplistic. Conceptions of rationality used to define propaganda negatively are often quite contentious, in particular the purported contrast between ‘reason’ and ‘emotion’. Moreover, rational argumentation that aims at persuasion is functionally similar to propaganda in that it aims at interfering with the belief states of other agents. Thus understood, argumentation also has a coercive component. If so, then the purported opposition to rational discourse is not a suitable response to what we may describe as the ‘demarcation problem’ for propaganda (what counts as propaganda and what does not). I present an alternative, non-pejorative conceptualization of propaganda, and discuss some criteria that may distinguish ‘good’ from ‘bad’ propaganda from an ethical/moral point of view
Bio: Catarina Dutilh Novaes is Professor of Philosophy and University Research Chair at VU Amsterdam, and Professorial Fellow at Arché, University of St. Andrews. She is currently (2018-2024) leading the ERC-funded project 'The Social Epistemology of Argumentation'. Her publications include Formal Languages in Logic (CUP, 2012), The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Logic (co-edited with Stephen Read, CUP 2016), and The Dialogical Roots of Deduction (CUP, 2020). Please see https://www.cdutilhnovaes.com/
English slides and presentation
Title: Expressive Epistemic Injustice
Abstract: Epistemic injustice means that knowledge relevant to collective decisions gets discounted, thus inflicting harm on disadvantaged groups. The most familiar kinds (established by Fricker 2007) are testimonial (dismissing arguments because of the social characteristics of the speaker) and hermeneutical (lack of collective interpretive resources to make sense of oppression). Expressive epistemic injustice can be defined as a systematic misalignment between an individual or group’s values and beliefs on the one hand, and expressed wants on the other. Expressive epistemic injustice can persist even if testimonial and hermeneutic injustice were to be eliminated. The degree of misalignment can be quantified, enabling an empirical analysis of multiple cases to locate the source of expressive epistemic injustice in the conditions of discourse in a public sphere awash in symbolic manipulations by relatively powerful actors. Citizen deliberation proves capable of correcting expressive epistemic injustice. This analysis adds to existing epistemic arguments for deliberative democracy, for it shows that deliberation increases the likelihood that collective decisions will respond to the values and beliefs that define these decisions as good to begin with.
Bio: John Dryzek is Centenary Professor and until recently Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow in the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis. Before moving to the University of Canberra he was Distinguished Professor of Political Science and ARC Federation Fellow at the Australian National University. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, and former Head of the Departments of Political Science at the Universities of Oregon and Melbourne and of the Social and Political Theory program at ANU. Working in both political theory and empirical social science, he is best known for his contributions in the areas of democratictheory and practice and environmental politics. His most recent book is Democratizing Global Justice: Deliberating Global Goals (with Ana Tanasoca, Cambridge University Press, 2021). Recent articles include “How Deliberation Happens: Enabling Deliberative Reason” (with Simon Niemeyer, Francesco Veri, and André Bächtiger, American Political Science Review 2023).