In Deliberate Conflict: Argument, Political Theory, and Composition Classes, Patricia Roberts-Miller argues that much current discourse about argument pedagogy is hampered by fundamental unspoken disagreements over what democratic public discourse should look like. The book’s pivotal question is, In what kind of public discourse do we want our students to engage? To answer this, the text provides a taxonomy, discussion, and evaluation of political theories that underpin democratic discourse, highlighting the relationship between various models of the public sphere and rhetorical theory.
Deliberate Conflict cogently advocates reintegrating instruction in argumentation with the composition curriculum. By linking effective argumentation in the public sphere with the ability to effect social change, Roberts-Miller pushes compositionists beyond a simplistic Aristotelian conception of how argumentation works and offers a means by which to prepare students for active participation in public discourse.