Can Ethical Argument Save the World? How to Write and Reason As If It Mattered (Because It Does!)
Most people who pay attention to the subject will tell you that public discourse is in a sorry state. We inhabit a rhetorical climate in which there is no widely shared agreement as to the nature of a fact, or what counts as evidence, or how to interpret what evidence may be presented.1 More, there is little place in our civic arguments for reasoned language that might explore ambiguities, express doubt, or admit mistakes. Instead, we shout at one another, insult our opponents, and attack one another in language that is irrational, venomous, and violent.
In his talk, Professor John Duffy of the University of Notre Dame will explore what it means to be an ethical writer in such a climate and how college writers, in all academic disciplines, can begin to repair the fractured condition of public argument in the United States.
John Duffy is The William T. and Helen Kuhn Carey Professor of Modern Communication in the Department of English at the University of Notre Dame. He has published on the ethics of writing, the 1619 Project, the rhetoric of disability, and the historical development of literacy in cross-cultural contexts. In his recent book, Provocations of Virtue: Rhetoric, Ethics, and the Teaching of Writing, he examines the ethical dimensions of teaching writing in a post-truth world. His monograph, Writing from These Roots, was awarded the 2009 Outstanding Book Award by the Conference on College Composition and Communication. He has published essays in CCC, College English, Rhetoric Review, JAC, and elsewhere. John is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship and the The Sheedy Excellence in Teaching Award. He teaches courses in rhetoric, writing, and literature.