Interpersonal Intellectual functions and Persuasion

“A person may seek principles not only to test his own judgement or give it more support but also to convince others or to increase their conviction. To do this he cannot simply announce his preference for a position; he must produce reasons convincing to the others. Reasons may be very particular, but they also can be general considerations that apply well to a wide range of cases and point to a particular judgement in this instance. If these judgements in the other cases are ones the other person already accepts, then the general reasoning will recruit these cases as evidence and support for the judgement proposed in the present case. Principles or general theories thus have an interpersonal intellectual function: justification to another.”


An excerpt from R.Nozick‘s book “The Nature of Rationality” .

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5 thoughts on “Interpersonal Intellectual functions and Persuasion

  1. thinks says:

    I am reminded of one of my favorite films, Amadeus, where Emperor Joseph says “You are passionate, but you do not persuade”.

    I have always found it easy to be passionate. Persuading is a whole other business🙂

    • epanechnikov says:

      Persuasion requires people willing to be persuaded. And this is where we often fail (frustratingly)🙂 Our general judgements may be the ones the other person already accepts but, despite that, he chooses to ignore.

  2. manblogg says:

    Very good excerpt. I have a somewhat similar one to share. One that Neil deGrasse Tyson – the director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York- delivered talking to Richard Dawkins at one panel discussion.
    He was explaining what the role of an educator should be, criticizing the raw way that Dawkins delivers his arguments , in contrast to his role of “professor of the public understanding of science”.

    Tyson:
    “Being an educator is not only getting the truth right, but there has got to be an act of persuasion in there as well. Persuasion is not always ‘here’s the facts you’re either an idiot or you are not’. It’s ‘here’s the facts and here’s a sensitivity to your state of mind, and it’s the facts plus the sensitivity, when convolved together that creates impact.’ And I worry that your methods and how articulately barbed you can be, ends up simply being ineffective when you have much more power of influence than what is currently reflected in your output”
    And in his own words here

  3. Dripable says:

    Extraordinarily well executed piece of writing.

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