The new APA newsletter includes an article by me entitled “Critical thinking and the adversary paradigm” — link in title above. My purpose is to review new evidence from argumentation studies about the continued dominance in the discipline of philosophy of what Janice Moulton called “the Adversary Method” in an early article (1983). I argue:
One of the primary ways in which the Adversary Method is reproduced is through critical thinking courses. These courses are typically taught by people with little expertise in argumentation scholarship, although argumentation has become the main tool for teaching critical thinking in the discipline of philosophy. Improving the standards for critical thinking pedagogy would help to unseat the Adversary Method from its status as a paradigm. Alternatives can be readily found in the textbooks authored by argumentation scholars.
I hope that this piece will help feminist scholars to see the epistemological, pedagogical, and political significance that argumentation theory could have. Maybe it will encourage textbook authors and academic departments to take more seriously their claims that critical thinking serves democracy.
Admittedly, argumentation theorists tend to have an idealized social ontology and to ignore oppression, as for instance when they assume politeness as a panacea for aggression and adversarial culture. They pay no attention to how the burden of proof may, in practice, shift according to the speaker’s social status and expertise in argumentation. Yet the ideals it establishes can work in concert with feminist epistemology to realize the ideals…
As my dad says, “hope springs eternal!”