"As a distinctive philosophy, religious humanism emphasizes man's place in an unfathomed universe, reason as an instrument for discovering the truth, free inquiry as a condition for discerning meaning and purpose, and happiness as a fundamental value.
"Man's uniqueness emerges partly from homo sapiens' capacity to employ symbols effectively. For this reason, Willard's provocative book is not a celebration of controversy but a sophisticated study exploring the grounds of man's knowledge. Drawing upon phenomenologists such as Alfred Schultz, psychologists such as George Kelley, and argumentation philosophers such as Stephen Toulmin, Willard makes a genuine contribution to intellectual inquiry by extending essential consideration about human knowledge. The [author] demonstrates how 'secular sources' provide a fundamental resource in developing religious understanding from argumentative interactions.
"Highly insightful and intellectually refreshing . . . Argumentation and the Social Grounds of Knowledge provides thought-provoking reading for humanists concerned with rational inquiry, communication theory, religious philosophy, and liberal education." --Religious Humanism
In this witty and provocative study of democracy and its critics, Charles Willard debunks liberalism, arguing that its exaggerated ideals of authenticity, unity, and community have deflected attention from the pervasive incompetence of "the rule of experts." He proposes a ground of communication that emphasizes common interests rather than narrow disputes.
The problem of "unity" and the public sphere has driven a wedge between libertarians and communitarians. To mediate this conflict, Willard advocates a shift from the discourse of liberalism to that of epistemics. As a means of organizing the ebb and flow of consensus, epistemics regards democracy as a family of knowledge problems—as ways of managing discourse across differences and protecting multiple views.
Building a bridge between warring peoples and warring paradigms, this book also reminds those who presume to instruct government that they are obliged to enlighten it, and that to do so requires an enlightened public discourse.
A Theory of Argumentation
Charles Arthur Willard University of Alabama Press, 1989 Library of Congress BC177.W544 1989 | Dewey Decimal 168
The thesis of this book is that argument is not a kind of logic but a kind of communication—conversation based on disagreement. Claims about the epistemic and political effects of argument get their authority not from logic but from their “fit with the facts” about how communication works. A Theory of Communication thus offers a picture of communication—distilled from elements of symbolic interactionism, personal construct theory, constructivism, and Barbara O’Keefe’s provocative thinking about logics of message design. The picture of argument that emerges from this tapestry is startling, for it forces revisions in thinking about knowledge, rationality, freedom, fallacies, and the structure and content of the argumentation discipline.
The burden of this book is to establish a theoretical context for, and to elaborate the implications of, the claim that argument is a form of interaction in which two or more people maintain what they construe to be incompatible positions.