Taking the Moral High Ground

Resources in ICD“ width=Robles, J. S., & Castor, T. (2019). Taking the moral high ground: Practices for being uncompromisingly principledJournal of Pragmatics, 141, 116-129.

This article asks questions relevant to many contexts of intercultural dialogue: “What actually happens when people are in the midst of unyielding disagreement? How do people accomplish intractability in interaction, and what might this tell us about the social and practical achievement and function of seemingly-incompatible positions in conflict?”

Abstract: “We examine how participants in a moral conflict hold fast to their beliefs during a highly publicized moment in an ongoing social controversy. We apply discourse analysis to a video-recorded confrontation between a same-sex couple seeking a marriage license, and a county clerk refusing to provide the license for religious reasons, which took place after the overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act in the U.S.A. (and had prohibited same-sex couples from marrying).We examine how pragmatics of account avoidance sequences and framing are deployed in interaction to accomplish “being morally principled.” This case illustrates how mediated public conversations around social changes provide participants opportunities to perform moralities and define the terms of debate in relation to cultural institutions. We reflect on how the consequence of this event is a form of debate in which participants speak past each other ritualistically, constructing worldviews as incompatible and problems as unresolvable.”

Author: Center for Intercultural Dialogue

Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz, the Director of the Center for Intercultural Dialogue, manages this website.

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