Poisoning the Well and Epistemic Privilege

Argumentation 24 (3):265-281 (2010)
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In this paper, a challenge is outlined for Walton’s recent analysis of the fallacy of poisoning the well. An example of the fallacy in action during a debate on affirmative action on a South African campus is taken to raise the question of how Walton’s analysis squares with the idea that disadvantaged parties in debates about race may be epistemically privileged . It is asked when the background of a participant is relevant to a debate and it is proposed that a proper analysis of the poisoning the well will outline conditions under which making one participant’s background an issue in a debate would be legitimate and illegitimate. Expanding Walton’s analysis to deal with the challenge, it is concluded that calling into question a participant’s suitability to take part in a debate is never legitimate when it is based simply on a broad fact about their background (like their race or gender)



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Ben Kotzee
University of Birmingham

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References found in this work

Radical interpretation.Donald Davidson - 1973 - Dialectica 27 (1):314-328.
Radical Interpretation.Donald Davidson - 1973 - Dialectica 27 (3-4):313-328.
Radical Interpretation.Donald Davidson - 1973 - In John Heil (ed.), Philosophy of Mind: A Guide and Anthology. Oxford University Press.
Feminist Epistemology and Philosophy of Science.Elizabeth Anderson - 2014 - In Edward N. Zalta (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford, CA: The Metaphysics Research Lab.

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