The Virtuous Troll: Argumentative Virtues in the Age of (Technologically Enhanced) Argumentative Pluralism

Philosophy and Technology 30 (2):179-189 (2017)
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Technology has made argumentation rampant. We can argue whenever we want. With social media venues for every interest, we can also argue about whatever we want. To some extent, we can select our opponents and audiences to argue with whomever we want. And we can argue however we want, whether in carefully reasoned, article-length expositions, real-time exchanges, or 140-character polemics. The concepts of arguing, arguing well, and even being an arguer have evolved with this new multiplicity and diversity; theory needs to catch up to the new reality. Successful strategies for traditional contexts may be counterproductive in new ones; classical argumentative virtues may be liabilities in new situations. There are new complications to the theorist’s standard questions—What is an argument? and Who is an arguer?—while new ones move into the spotlight—Should we argue at all? and If so, why? Agent-based virtue argumentation theory provides a unifying framework for this radical plurality by coordinated redefinitions of the concepts of good arguers and good arguments. It remains true that good arguers contribute to good arguments, and good arguments satisfy good arguers, but the new diversity strains the old unity. Ironically, a unifying factor is provided by examining those paragons of bad arguers, argument trolls whose contributions to arguments are not very good, not really contributions, and, ultimately, not genuine argumentation.



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Daniel Cohen
Colby College

Citations of this work

I Wrote this Paper for the Lulz: the Ethics of Internet Trolling.Ralph DiFranco - 2020 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 23 (5):931-945.
Conversational Goals and Internet Trolls.Gretchen Ellefson - forthcoming - In Patrick Connolly, Sandy Goldberg & Jennifer Saul (eds.), Conversations Online. Oxford University Press.
Exclusion and Epistemic Community.Hanna Kiri Gunn - 2021 - Revue Internationale de Philosophie 297 (3):73-96.

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References found in this work

Intelligent Virtue.Julia Annas - 2011 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
On Bullshit.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1986 - Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
On bullshit.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1986 - Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

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