How to Disagree Without Compromise

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A Podcast at Wisdom of Crowds: Many attempts have been made to deal with polarization. A lot of it has to do with putting people with diverging perspectives face-to-face in an attempt to try to find common ground. Here at Wisdom of Crowds, we have tackled the problem by taking only half of this approach: we insist that people in disagreement confront each other, but with no expectation of common ground emerging.

We frequently talk about “deep difference.” We believe it’s naive to think that through reasoned discourse we can reach compromise positions. That does violence to the power of ideas and the strength of belief. We think it’s both healthier and more realistic to acknowledge that certain differences can’t be reconciled, and to instead direct the conversation toward respectful mutual interrogation — where the discussants push each other to excavate why they believe what they believe.

Jen Murtazashvili is one person who is profoundly aligned with what we’re doing. She first came on the Wisdom of Crowds podcast in August of 2021 to talk about America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. But both Shadi and Damir had gotten to know her almost a year earlier, during the start of COVID, when she kindly invited them both to participate in an online seminar about modus vivendi liberalism. Jen’s extensive work on Afghanistan had given her cause to be suspicious of top-down thinking that nation-building requires. She understands that societies are built from the bottom-up, from local insights, from particularism. Difference can’t be papered over…

More here.