Moral Reasoning and the Online Debate About Iraq

Jenkins, A., Nikolaev, A., & Porpora, D. V.
Political Communication, 56 (2), (S. 44-63).

How a democratic nation deliberates about war is one of the most important political questions that can be asked. This study examines how the American public sphere debated the attack on Iraq between August and October 2002, marking the time when the Bush administration began discussing a potential attack against Iraq and when Congress authorized the use of force for that purpose. The study specifically compares the pattern of argument in two different forums of the public sphere: (a) the opinion pages of 23 different U.S. newspapers from across the political spectrum and (b) online discussion groups. Of particular interest was the comparative weight given to moral argument. This particular war was preemptive and unprovoked. Hence, much of the world disapproved. In such a case, one might expect moral considerations to be an important aspect of the debate. This study found that, in comparison at least with opinion in the elite press, the pattern of opinion online was different. The online discussion resembled more the left category of newspapers in terms of arguments made for or against the war, and more of the points debated were moral in nature. The influence of the online discussion groups may not be large, certainly in comparison with the debate in the newspapers, but between their different form and more inclusive participation, they do seem to produce more of the moral content that critical theorists like Habermas are looking for in social deliberation.

Zitation (APA)

Jenkins, A., Nikolaev, A., & Porpora, D. V. (2012). Moral Reasoning and the Online Debate About Iraq. Political Communication, 56(2), 44-63.