Michel Pireu Columnist

From Agnes Callard, associate professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago, writing in The New York Times:

Whether you call it a petition, an open letter or a public statement, this type of document is distinguished by the fact that after stating and arguing for a position, it lists the names of people who endorse the position. The petition aims to effect persuasion with respect to what appears in the first part not only by way of any argument contained therein but also by way of the number and respectability of the people who figure in the second part. Such a document tries to persuade you to believe (that it is right to do) something because many people, some of whom are authorities, believe it (is the right thing to do).

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