Discourse Communities

it’s your choice, what you believe.
it’s my choice, what i believe.
we don’t have a right to each other’s choices or beliefs.

decolonization iii, nayyirah waheed (via nayyirahwaheed)


Except if we’re part of an epistemic community. In an epistemic community we might not share most of our beliefs, or even acknowledge the same methods, but we have a common goal, such as truth (it doesn’t have to be true, a substitute goal —such as rational assertability— will do) and we want to pursue it together. Since we both share this goal, I want to hear your critical opinion, especially when you think I might be going astray (since I don’t want to believe false things, or to acquire beliefs using unreliable methods). In order for this community to work we have to act upon certain duties. If I say a statement, and somebody doubts it, I (ordinarily) have a duty to answer her questions.

However, I’m not saying any two (or more) persons have to be part of an epistemic community. Two persons that are part of the same country or even the same village need not be part of the same epistemic community (liars, opresors, etc, do not share my epistemic goals, or even if they do, they do not want to pursue them with me, they only want to exploit me).

However, for the rest of cases, even if we don’t have a right to each other beliefs, whenever we are part of a community of inquirers we do have a duty.

(via fuckyeahlogical)

The idea of epistemic communities is interesting, but I think discourse communities are more useful. They’re similar concepts, but rather than sharing epistemic methodologies they share a set of discourse ethics.

This means that although we may come to different conclusions about any number of things, we share a common way of expressing our beliefs and in engaging others through that expression. We have shared values about what’s on the table for criticism, and what’s not, as well as how to best go about expressing that criticism. We agree to a shared communicative method, that when practiced, honors intellectual diversity as long as it’s authentically and respectfully expressed.

In other words, members of a discourse community attempt to progress sound logos via the expression of shared ethos. It is literally the practice of argumentation with style.

Members of an epistemic community share a methodology for discovering truth or creating knowledge. Members of a discourse community share a methodology for engaging in a dialogue that includes valuing the use of disparate epistemic methods.

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