Communication is key for a collective and effective response to deep-rooted issues on a global scale. The current state of public debate, however, is marked by polarization, extremism, and exclusionary discourses. By way of addressing this predicament, our project focuses on argumentative engagements, particularly in terms of the adversarial and/or applause-driven features of the current debate culture. ADAB seeks to offer a theoretically grounded and practically feasible alternative that will inspire and help train cooperative arguers befitting the contemporary world. While the ADAB team envisions applying this alternative in different argumentation contexts, its focus in this pilot grant will be university debate practices as a medium for cultivating generations of virtuous arguers.
To that end, ADAB revisits the seven-centuries old Islamic discipline that synthesizes Muslim spiritual ethics and Aristotelian analytics: Adab al-Bahth wa al-Munazara (the manners of inquiry and argumentation). ADAB highlights Munazara’s emphasis on the virtues of character and the manners of debate for managing deep disagreements within a framework of respect and amity between contenders. Bringing Munazara to bear on contemporary argumentation theory and practice, ADAB puts forward a Munazara Engagement Model (MEM) with argumentative norms and procedures that invite critical evaluations while being conducive to respectful and egalitarian cooperation between contending parties. Accordingly, the ADAB team will:
Build a network of intellectual historians, argumentation scholars, and stakeholders in structured argumentative engagements
Survey Munazara manuscripts in Turkish libraries
Translate two Munazara manuscripts from Arabic to English
Critically review contemporary university debate practices
Lay the theoretical foundations for MEM
Articulate a MEM-inspired protocol for university debates
Build a website with a rudimentary online Munazara-interface.