Philosophy, Adversarial Argumentation, and Embattled Reason

Phyllis Rooney


Philosophy’s adversarial argumentation style is often noted as a factor contributing to the low numbers of women in philosophy. I argue that there is a level of adversariality peculiar to philosophy that merits specific feminist examination, yet doesn’t assume controversial gender differences claims. The dominance of the argument-as-war metaphor is not warranted, since this metaphor misconstrues the epistemic role of good argument as a tool of rational persuasion. This metaphor is entangled with the persisting narrative of embattled reason, which, in turn, is linked to the sexism-informed narrative of the “man of reason” continually warding off or battling “feminine” unreason.


adversarial argumentation, adversary paradigm, argument-as-war, embattled reason, equity in philosophy, feminism, gender differences, man of reason

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ISSN: 0824-2577