6.30 pm, Tuesday 7th of February 2012

In this talk I criticise liberal theories of debate and deliberation for their formalism and for their suspicion of common opinion, ‘doxa’. I contrast them with the rhetorical approach, paying particular attention to the concept of ‘invention’ and the use of the topics or commonplaces. Where political philosophers hope to resolve controversies by revealing the universal principles that should govern them, rhetorical action, I argue, extracts from general principles material to support particular causes’ thus enabling dispute to take shape. This has implications for the ways in which we analyse and evaluate political action (and also for how we might do it).

Dangerous Ideas challenges engaged intellectuals to critically assess the extraordinary changes of the past decade. It is an opportunity to explore what engaged critique means for a newly politicised student community, and for a society experiencing seismic shifts after the financial and military crises of the past decade.

Alan Finlayson, University of East Anglia and Swansea



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