Against Creeping Adversarialism

Online meta-discussion is full of ideas and terms from debate — accusations of “moving the goalposts”, citations of logical fallacies. When people withdraw from discussion, they get accused of not really believing in their own ideas — arguing in bad faith, or fearing that their claims won’t stand up in “the marketplace of ideas”. How did unstructured communication with strangers become tinged with the expectation that it would follow the rules of our most elaborately artificial rhetorical spectator sports? And why do we, when communicating with strangers, default to considering such communication an…

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