Political deliberation, understood as a public debate aimed at forming political opinions and deciding what course of action to take, has traditionally been seen as a prime venue for public reasoning and argument. Aristotle considered political deliberation – next to forensic dispute and public oratory – as one of the three main genres of rhetoric. Today, different modes of political deliberation – from formal institutional procedures in parliaments, to public hearings, to citizens’ conferences, to televised debates, to informal online discussions among “ordinary citizens” – are at the centre of interest in argumentation theory, deliberative theory of democracy, and communication and media studies alike.
The goal of this colloquium is to bring together scholars from these interrelated disciplines to examine the role, shape and quality of argumentation in political deliberation. A theoretical and empirical focus of the presentations and discussions will be on the practices of argumentation. The questions addressed include: How can we best theorize, analyze and evaluate argumentation in the context of political deliberation? What is the impact of the contextual conditions in different deliberative activities on the shape and quality of public argument? What are the typical forms of deliberative argument and counterargument? To what extent is the “virtual public sphere” transforming the way we engage in public argument? Does it allow for inclusive participation and genuine argumentative debate between advocates of various political views? By addressing these questions, the colloquium hopes to provide a focused account of the multifaceted argumentative practices in political deliberation.
The colloquium is part of a project Argumentation, Communication and Context sponsored by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT: PTDC/FIL–FIL/10117/2009) and carried out at ArgLab, Universidade Nova de Lisboa.
For more details (full programme, abstracts) and updates please go to http://www.arglab.ifl.pt/ (info available soon)