Lost convictions: Debating both sides and the ethical self-fashioning of liberal citizens

Ronald Walter Greene, Darrin Hicks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


This paper takes as its Point of departure the ethical problematization of debating both sides - having students argue both affirmative and negative on a debate resolution - in order to highlight the role of communication as a cultural technology of liberalism. It argues that debating both sides contributed to the cultural governance of cold war liberalism by separating speech from conviction to cultivate the value of debate as a method of democratic decision-making. The valorization of free and full expression as a pre-requisite for 'decision by debate' prepared the ground for dis-articulating debate from cold war liberalism and rearticulating it as a game of freedom that contributes to the moral education of liberal citizens. In so doing, debate becomes a global technology of liberalism creating exceptional subjects by circulating the communicative norms of deliberative democracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)100-126
Number of pages27
JournalCultural Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2005 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • American exceptionalism
  • Cold war
  • Conviction
  • Debate
  • Deliberative democracy
  • Free speech


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