Argument as Combat

Jonny Blamey
King's College London
Abstract Argument is seen as central to philosophy, especially epistemology. It is often said that philosophy teaches you to argue for any position. Arguments are used to justify beliefs and many people suppose that for a belief to be counted for knowledge it must be justified. In science, scientific theories must be backed by the evidence and it has been proposed that the relationship of evidence to theory is that of argument to conclusion. But is argument really so important? Arguments in practice are hardly ever persuasive, and a deductive argument adds no new information. Knowledge and wisdom of the philosophical kind can be garnered and created through observation, exploration, experiment, collaboration, narrative and sharing. None of these ways of knowing necessarily involve argument, and can actually in some cases be harmed by argument. It is fairly uncontroversial to say that argument has a central role in contemporary English speaking philosophy. But if argument is a form of combat then this emphasis on argument could be a source of gender bias in philosophy and in certain sciences. Men are physiologically attracted to combat through the mechanism of testosterone fluctuations in response to competitive situations. But apart from being attractive to some men, arguments do not create good philosophy. Good philosophy aims at the love of wisdom and knowledge. Two principle goods in philosophy are the creation of knowledge and the spreading of knowledge. Arguments neither create knowledge nor are persuasive. On the contrary, arguments create divisions and cognitive biases. As such philosophy may be better with less of an emphasis on argument, and more emphasis on non-violence, sharing and love.
Keywords Feminist Epistemology  Philosophy  Male  Testosterone  Combat  Sport  Argument  Knowledge  Wisdom  Gender
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