What is the purpose of debate? Is it to convince somebody, somewhere of something, or is it merely to undermine the other side and bolster your own prejudices?
You may have noticed that political discourse is not always conducted in a civil and measured manner. Especially when the participants are physically removed from each other, say via journalistic writing or social media. In particular, right-wing polemicists are fond of throwing around terms like ‘libtards’, and claiming to have ‘crushed’ or ‘destroyed’ their opponents. There is an unattractive swagger to the claims of some of these people to have exclusive title to the use of logic. Ben Burgis, a philosophy PhD and avowedly Marxist, thinks that the left needs to work on its debating chops.
In his feisty little book he discusses the way that the right has claimed the high ground of dispassion, and proposes approaches and tools for countering this unwarranted security. Taking aim at the traditional leftist hostility to the very notion of logic, and such right-wing bêtes noire as Ben Shapiro, Burgis takes up the cudgels on the side of the angels. “Don’t mistake this book as a plea for civility” he writes. Not much danger of that, Ben.
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