Roundhouse Student Journal

A Critical Assessment of Steenbergen’s Discourse Quality Index

Martin King

In conclusion, Steenbergen et al’s application of discourse ethics is problematic; the DQI distorts the ideals as it reduces them to observable phenomena, the measurement criteria are arbitrary, and it fails to measure discourse accurately between participants as an objective empirical study, or to access the relevant intersubjective and subjective features crucial to discourse ethics. This paper suggests that these problems are symptomatic of the enterprise of using discourse ethics to provide an objective measure in empirical research. However, this paper maintains that, even if applications struggle to meet the demands of objective research, it is still possible that discourse ethics could be usefully and informatively applied to issues such as democracy or deliberative politics. It may be argued that it would be more desirable to open up the discourse quality of a discourse to discussion, rather than attempting to fix it by an objective measure (which this essay has shown to be inappropriate). Discourse ethics is concerned with the social world of norms, not the objective world.

A Critical Assessment of Steenbergen’s Discourse Quality Index - Martin King [PDF file]

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