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Democratic Rhetoric and The Duty of Deliberation, Vol. 8 - 2001, No. 3

The Place of Impiety in Civic Argument

, pages: 35-50

This paper considers the place of impiety within democratic theory. Contemporary political theory is concerned with discourse and has developed communicative norms to deliberation in the public sphere. These norms of deliberative democracy require, however, that participants be reasonable and guided by goodwill. These theorists do not give serious consideration to impiety, and in particular to its possibilities to move beyond antagonism, enabling prudence and promoting philia, civic friendship. A brief critical discussion of Seyla Benhabib's conception of deliberative democracy is followed by a discussion of the relationship of rhetoric to prudence. While prudence is usually considered in Aristotelian terms, it can also be viewed Sophistically. Sophistic prudence is strategic, impious, and often uses laughter. Three cases of impiety are then briefly examined.

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