The Virtues of Reason and the Problem of Other Minds: Reflections on Argumentation in a New Century

G. Thomas Goodnight


From early modernity, philosophers have engaged in skeptical discussions concerning knowledge of the existence, state, and standing of other minds. The analogical move from self to other unfolds as controversy. This paper reposes the problem as an argumentation predicament and examines analogy as an opening to the study of rhetorical cognition. Rhetorical cognition is identified as a productive process coming to terms with an other through testing sustainable risk. The paper explains how self-sustaining risk is theorized by Aristotle’s virtue ethics in the polis. Moral hazard is identified as a threat to modern argument communities.


Argument culture, other minds, rhetorical cognition, institutional logic, moral hazard, community of practice, risk, reasonableness, contingency.

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ISSN: 0824-2577