Dorf against debate

Here, hereHear, hear.  I haven’t watched any of the debates and don’t plan to start now. The only thing I would add against them is that they are largely theatre, a performance, not unlike confirmation hearings.

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2 Responses

  1. Matt says:

    Supposedly the great utilitarian philosopher, Henry Sidgwick, worked to make his writing free of any sort of pleasing artifice or style so that people would be convinced, if they were at all, by the argument and nothing else.(*) I don’t think it’s necessary to go that far against style of presentation or the like to agree with Dorf that the debates are likely to provide anti-information- that most people will end up knowing less truth and being less well informed, and have less good grounding for their views than before. I can imagine a time when debates, all things considered, played a positive role. (I’m not sure they ever actually did, but I can imagine it.) That would be when it was much harder to get information on a candidate’s views than it is today. But these days there are much easier and more truth-conducive ways to get a candidate’s views. Even if we think that tough questioning of candidates is important and useful, it would be better to do that individually, by decent reporters.

    (*) I actually really enjoy reading Sidgwick and find his style congenial, but my understanding is that that’s a minority view.

  2. Joe says:

    I think confirmation hearings are theater and all but are somewhat different in part since they are more expanded, involve more questioners and even written responses. Also, presidential candidates show up in a lot more places for public consumption before Election Day than nominees there.

    I agree with the sentiment though — I am not a fan of debates and keep track of them by summaries and tweets. The big excitement that Obama ‘lost’ because of his style was all b.s. to me mostly, forgive my French, since my concern is the merits. A real debate might work, but apparently even Douglas/Lincoln would be imperfect there.

    But, that might be more interesting at least.