Oh, Martha – won’t you let me contribute to your conjugal virtue?
It’s every guy’s dilemma: a culture has caught your eye, she has so much to recommend her, and you just know that her bedroom is littered with disordered desires. She’s practically crying out for you to take her into your arms and undergird her social structures with your moral grounding. But how do you approach her? You don’t want to come off like one of those culture-warrior players, who don’t really care about her – those guys who just want to find a culture they can dominate to feed their own egos. You want her to know that you care about her needs, and you’re looking for a meaningful and fulfilling long-term integration of socio-cultural imperatives. She’s sick and tired of all the tired old pick-up lines. So what do you say?
Well, friends, the smooth-talking Eric Teetsel has you covered in today’s TPD:
In a 1972 article in Philosophy & Rhetoric, Wayne Brockriede describes the art of communication in terms of sexual conduct. Like sex, argument occurs between human beings who bring their whole selves to the conversation, including personal histories and philosophical presuppositions (whether they know it or not). And, as in sex, participants in conversation can be considerate of these facts and lovingly negotiate them as part of the act, or manipulate them to personal advantage, or ignore them completely and carry on without regard for the others’ welfare at all. The first is arguing as a lover; the second as a seducer; the third as a rapist.
Too often, conservatives—including me—fall into the third category with our derision and condemnation. Not only is this unbecoming of people aspiring to virtue, it is ineffective in winning others to our cause.
Arguing as a lover is better. It frees us to acknowledge our personal faults and the faults in our arguments while remaining committed to our position and allowing our interlocutor to save face in the majority of instances in which our case is superior. As we woo the person across from us (and—remember—the audience watching from home) we are funny, self-effacing, merciful, and confident.