The Current

Persuasion has replaced reasoned argument, says philosopher

In his new book, James Garvey argues convincing through persuasion rather than reason threatens democracy.
Philosopher James Garvey points to a classic Gruen Transfer, where storefronts are designed to make a buyer slowdown and spend more. (James Garvey)

Read story transcript

Philosopher James Garvey is worried about the effect manipulation is having on democracy and happiness. He thinks the influence of reason as tool for persuasion in debate is being overshadowed by marketing tricks that leave voters unaware of genuine intentions or ideas. 

Consider the Canadian campaign trail last fall: Conservative Leader Stephen Harper relies on his favourite prop, the ding of a cash register,  while then Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau invites reporters to watch him in the boxing ring - yet refuses to answer their questions.

These political stunts were designed to persuade Canadians to vote for their party, but clearly have no tie to healthy debate or platform ideas. 

When we lose that ability to argue, we lose democracy itself.- James Garvey

Philosopher James Garvey argues the use of shallow marketing strategies among our country's leaders are only growing more prevalent, informing all life decisions, from how we shop,  to whether a country goes to war. 

This segment was produced by The Current's Karin Marley