I'm consciously rejecting the "debate is bad, dialogue is good" idea right off the bat. Debate is a form of dialogue and arguably it's purest form. If dialogue is a search for truth by two or more parties, then debate is the potentially the best structure for that search.
But then I don't mean simply arguing to "win". Rather I mean supporting a position contrary to your interlocutor's with the conviction that it is true. And this with the fallibility principle: the recognition that no matter how convinced we are we may still turn out to be wrong. Properly understood as a search for truth in an adversarial fashion, debate in this sense aims to bring the opponents together in a better understanding of the truth.
I'm concerned that "dialogue" is for some a code word for talking pleasantly with no intention of pursuing the truth or even a conviction that we can know the truth. When the President announces the abortion positions are irreconcilable I'm concerned he means something like the above: "Let's talk, but don't expect me to engage what you have to say as if it really meant something to me." Or, as Foghorn Leghorn used to say, "Don't bother me with the facts, son, I've already made up my mind."
Enough already: here's another source for discussing "dialogue":
Over at Via Media, Amy's started a discussion about dialogue.1) Who are the parties in the dialogue?2) Where is this dialogue situated?Should be an interesting conversation.To take things a step further, what are the necessary ingredients/principles in dialogue? What does dialogue look like in practice? I've made some efforts in the past to grapple with the concept of dialogue on my blog.I know
Read the whole thing.
(Via The Weight of Glory.)