Argumentation 36 (1):85-100 (2022)

Socratic irony can be understood independently of the immortal heroics of Plato’s Socrates. We need a systematic account and criticism of it both as a debate-winning strategy of argumentation and teaching method. The Speaker introduces an issue pretending to be at a lower intellectual level than her co-debaters, or Participants. An Audience looks over and evaluates the results. How is it possible that the Speaker like Socrates is, consistently, in the winning position? The situation is ironic because the Participants fight from a losing position but realize it too late. Socratic irony compares with divine irony: divine irony is a subtype of Socratic irony since you lose when you challenge gods. Socratic irony is also, prima facie, a subtype of dramatic irony when the Audience knows more than the Participants on the stage. We must distinguish between the ideal and realistic elements of Socratic Irony. The very idea of Socratic irony looks idealized, or it is an ideal case, which explains the Speaker’s consistently winning position. In real life, the debate must be rigged, or the Dutch Book argument applies to the Participants, if the Speaker is so successful.
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DOI 10.1007/s10503-021-09556-0
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