ERIC Number: ED340051
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Nov
Reference Count: N/A
Academic Debate and the Rhetoric of Emancipation: Habermas and Instrumental Reality.
McGee, Brian R.; Simerly, Greggory
Many academic debaters have adopted a rhetoric of emancipation, which seeks to identify oppressive features in the material conditions of contemporary society. Debaters now often advocate a wholesale rejection of the current system. This emancipatory rhetoric illustrates some components of Jurgen Habermas' critical apparatus. In turn, that apparatus helps identify some ways in which emancipatory rhetoric is problematic. Habermas, the leading living proponent of critical theory, distinguishes between purposive-rational action (work), which includes instrumental rationality, and communicative action (interaction). Habermas criticizes the reduction of reason to scientific and technological thought. He seeks to analyze communication as the creation of an optimal discursive space free from time and space constraints and the influence of domination. Habermas advances the notion that an ideal speech situation, free from distortion, would result eventually in justified consensus. The questions and demands of emancipatory rhetoric are practical, and cannot be resolved within the technical sphere. To escape instrumental and strategic rationality, debaters must abandon those rationalities in favor of communicative action. However, even the use of emancipatory rhetoric in debate is instrumental, as the goal is to win debates. Moreover, emancipatory rhetoric cannot receive a fair hearing within the dominant language game of debate. The game itself must move from the instrumental to the practical. (Twenty-six references are attached.) (SG)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Competitive Argument; Debate Strategies; Debate Theory; Habermas (Jurgen)
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association (77th, Atlanta, GA, October 31-November 3, 1991).