Power and Persuasion

Keith Dowding
Australian National University

August 4, 2013


Deliberation requires debate based on reason, perhaps then reaching mutual agreement. However, in familiar accounts of power, if agent i induces belief change in person j then i must have the power to induce belief change. Does that mean that deliberation is simply a power game? I argue that persuasion is not necessarily coercive or due to domination. What matters is the grounds of that change in belief. If evidence and reason rather than rhetorical force induce belief change, then domination has not necessarily taken place. This claim is discussed in relation to two connected «veracity conditions»: common reason and the intentions of the persuader. I argue the latter is important in both assessing agential power-relations and for the epistemic character of the conclusions reached through deliberation. I also briefly consider the power of discourse as an activity in itself.

Power and Persuasion

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