We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Open Discourse?

By Mark Wollacott
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Language & Humanities is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Language & Humanities, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Open discourse is a conversation when all possible information can be accessed by those taking part. It is also about the degree to which it is possible for any discourse to exist without controls. Open discourse is determined by a number of factors, including access and quality, as well as the genuine openness of the dialogue. Some people debate whether total open discourse is actually possible.

Discourse is the discussion of ideas. The formation of genuine dialogue, followed by the formation of consensus, is dependent on discourse. Not all discourse has the potential to become fully open; for example, rhetoric is the attempt to persuade others of one belief. This means that only one opinion is presented and listeners to not have immediate access to other opinions and details that might contradict it.

Whether discourse is open or not is dependent upon a number of factors. These include access to information, the equality of access, and the quality of the information. Access can be defined by the amount of information available to those involved or those wanting to be involved and the means by which the information is made available. Equality of access is defined as all people having the same level of access regardless of position, status, and social background.

Both access and equality of access are regulated by discourse control. Access to information is largely controlled by the people and organizations that have the information. Those controlling the information or the debate often have the control, unless government law forces them to relinquish control through the freedom of speech or the freedom of information. For example, there can be no real debate on the economy or on immigration if government withholds information.

Information requests can also be open or closed. For example, an ideologically motivated individual may take only the information that is compatible with his or her ideology, even when all information is freely available. This form of discourse control is bottom-up rather than top-down.

An open conversation also allows for the discussion of topics that many feel are unsavory or non-mainstream. For example, voicing opinions on marriage, religion, or abortion may offend some people as many hold completely different views on these topics; however, open discourse on all subjects, even tough ones, is important to keep discussions relevant. The absence of open discourse can make topics stagnant.

The Internet has opened up the access that many people have to information. Whether it truly counts as open discourse or not is open to debate, however. Taken as a whole, this openness allows for all opinions and a lot of information to be found, but each singular piece of social media or website may fail many criteria set out for open discourse. Questions also remain over the quality of information available on the Internet.

It has been argued that truly open discourse is impossible because there are too many possible filters determining what can or cannot be discussed, what information is available, the quality of the discourse, and people's access to it. According to the same trail of thought, it is also impossible to have closed discourse, the total absence of access. If both are impossible to achieve, then it suggests that all kinds of discourse are muddled somewhere in the middle.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By burcinc — On Mar 25, 2014

@fify-- People feel insulted or attacked only when they are not used to open discourse. If we feel afraid to discuss issues and express our opinions, then we can never solve social problems. Whether people are insulted or not, the only way that society can find solutions that satisfies everyone is through discourse.

I actually think that open discourse is a part of liberty. If a society is able to engage in open discourse, I think that's a sign that this society has high levels of freedom. In some countries, people are not allowed to discourse at all. And the government in such countries do everything in their power to restrict information so that people cannot discourse even if they want to.

By fify — On Mar 25, 2014

@bear78-- I don't agree with you. I think it's possible to have open discourse without conflict. It depends on the type of discourse that is used. People who know how to express themselves without attacking or insulting others will not have any problems with open discourse.

By bear78 — On Mar 24, 2014

I don't think that discourse can be entirely open. In fact, I think it should not be entirely open if we want discussions to be within limits of respect.

If discourse is completely open, everyone would be able to express their opinions to the full extent that they want. This is nice, but when opinions contradict, and they are bound to, it can lead to conflict. Everyone has a specific worldview and various ideologies and everything we say reflects our worldview. I don't think it's possible to discuss everything as openly as we would like without it leading to some type of clash with the other participants.

In order to avoid conflict, people need to share their opinions with a certain limit so that they can remain respectful to one another. At least this is the way I feel about open discourse.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.