Common ground and (re)defanging the antagonistic: A paradigm for argumentation as shared inquiry and responsibility

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Any rhetorical exchange can involve a form of ‘identity theft’ if others attempt to wrest authorship from the rhetor. The paradigms of the late 1900s that privileged mutual inquiry into shared knowledge have now evolved into ones that privilege not only the shared, but also difference, debate, even dispute – and the ways in which we might change as a result of a negotiation between what is shared and what is unshared. Such paradigms seek to defang the antagonistic even as they recognize that inquiry into difference is an essential part of rhetorical exchange, as well as increased individual (and social) responsibility for position-taking, i.e. our very identities as social and thinking beings. Whereas ‘common ground’ now represents the acceptance of difference and responsibility as the starting point of any rhetorical exchange, a ‘rhetoric of recognition’ represents an increased awareness of the possibility of change as a result of rhetoric.


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