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Cooperative Argumentation: A Model for Deliberative Community

As the globe shrinks, it is more important than ever to discuss ways for diverse groups to coexist peacefully. This practical text by Josina M. Makau and Debian L. Marty (Waveland Press, 2001) offers a fresh approach to argumentation — one that combines reason and refutation with community building, mutual respect, and a recognition of interdependence. The authors provide a wide variety of examples to illustrate concrete proposals for cultivating moral abilities, cognitive skills, and communicative virtues. The ability to engage in cooperative argumentation across differences permits individuals to resolve conflicts peacefully, effectively, and responsibly.

The Authors’ Philosophy…

Cooperative Argumentation emphasizes the human capacity to disagree ethically and to deliberate effectively. We believe that ethical communication and effective deliberation are mutually reinforcing and, in fact, necessary for fully informed decision making.

This approach served us as we worked together on the book. One of us believed strongly that what is most needed is a deliberative model of critical thinking and argumentation designed to help people make the best decision in any given situation. The other believed equally strongly that our primary purpose should be to help people confront conflicts peacefully through responsive communication and responsible community building.

On the surface, these would seem to be different projects, each with its own complexity. But our personal and professional experiences–in consultation with a review of literature from a wide variety of disciplines and perspectives–encouraged us to integrate these priorities. The result, we hope, is an approach to argumentation that draws on the best aspects of our multicultural traditions and offers people a deliberative model for living well together.

About the Authors…

Dr. Josina M. Makau
Josina M. Makau received an MA in Philosophy from UCLA, and an MA and PhD in Rhetoric from UC Berkeley. Following fifteen years on the faculty at Ohio State University, she was selected in 1995 as one of California State University Monterey Bay’s twelve founding faculty. Dr. Makau served as the university’s dean of arts and humanities from 1996-2001, and is currently Professor and Co-Coordinator of the Practical and Professional Ethics Program. She serves on the Natividad Medical Center BioEthics Committee, and on the Media Literacy Alliance Advisory Council. Her awards include Ohio State University’s Distinguished Teaching Award and Duquesne University’s Scholar Award for Excellence in Ethics Education. Dr. Makau has published numerous journal articles and book chapters, as well as two books, Reasoning and Communication, Communication Ethics in an Age of Diversity, which she co-edited with Ronald Arnett, in addition to Cooperative Argumentation: A Model for Deliberative Community (co-authored with Debian Marty).

Dr. Debian L. Marty
Debian Marty received an MA in Women’s Studies and a PhD in Communication, both from Ohio State University. She joined the faculty at California State University Monterey Bay in 1996 and is currently an Associate Professor and Co-Coordinator of the Practical and Professional Ethics Program. Dr. Marty has published journal articles and book chapters in the areas of communication, critical race theory, and feminist studies. She is the co-author of Cooperative Argumentation: A Model for Deliberative Community (with Josina Makau).

Resource Link: www.cooperativeargumentation.com

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