Dialectic and Contemporary Argument

Too often, today’s debates are framed as dichotomies or linear spectra. I presume the presentation of so puny a range of possibilities to be a prevarication, whether premeditated or purposeless, that prevents participants from properly pondering a practicable resolution. “Republican or Democrat”, “conservative or liberal”, “realist or idealist”, “communitarian or individualist”, “left or right”, these over-simplifications seem crafted to create endless argument, rather than to convince. Echoing the Baker’s Wife, it is always “or,” and never “and.”

True consensus, rather than majority approval, should be our goal. I believe that if two people (or more) commit to honest discussion, they will eventually reach agreement. The dialogue may last days or decades, but eventually they will find consensus through synthesis of their ideas.


Sondheim, Stephen. (1986) “Into the Woods”.