Critique towards the Method of Dialogue: Impossibility of Bias Removal

Decentralized Socrates (Part 8)

Pictures of Prejudice, June 4, 1800, Thomas Rowlandson

Previous post.

The author feels a problem with the sustainability of the Socratic method of dialogue as a “one-man political system.”

The Socratic method of dialogue, as mentioned in Part 5, is divided into two stages:

  • First stage: Removal of bias by pointing out the contradictions implied by the interlocutor
  • The second stage: the dialogue partner is free to make new choices after the bias is removed.

Socrates’ intention is not to persuade his interlocutor that the correct opinion = his bias. It is the purpose of the art for debate. Instead, he intends to maintain an attitude (let us call it a “universal position”) in which the interlocutor is free from bias. The very idea of “knowing oneself to be ignorant” is an end in itself.

A common criticism of such intentions in political philosophy is that a “universal position completely free from bias” is impossible for human existence. We are forced to live with an infinite number of biases, including the biases embedded in our language, physiological prejudices, and the discrimination that a universal position is good. The veil of ignorance can only be put up in thought experiments.

However, the goal of the Socratic method of dialogue is not to argue that there is an attitude free from bias but to demonstrate that it is possible to maintain one’s independence from bias. Hence, we cannot criticize it by saying innumerable unconscious biases that cannot be eliminated.

The author doubts that the sustainability of the method of dialogue is different from this sort of criticism. The method seems to be unsustainable because it requires a person to be too “strong.”

In the following article, I will discuss this point.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store