>To elaborate, people want political issues which are closely aligned
>with aspects of their own values that they want to signal to others,
>and which do not overly threaten how things actually get done.
I think I was thinking about situations where the the values being
expressed have mostly to do with argument itself--being interested in it
and willing to do it, but neither too agreeable nor too argumentative.
In other words, situations where the subject matter is neither
practical nor value-advertising, but mainly a kind of neutral fodder
for an activity that has another purpose.
>Your desire to argue is also a social signal
Right. But the social signal may be mainly about desire to argue!
In other words, sometimes that signal is just straightforward and
practical, in the sense that it starts an argument that you wanted
to get started.
What I'm saying is that there are other purposes for non-practical
conversation besides value and belief advertisement. This is straying
a little from your topic, but there are things in common between
different kinds of non-practical communication. For instance,
the steering toward Grand Issues that the conversants aren't likely
-- email@example.com Steve Witham web page under reconsideration "Philosophers have often attempted to analyze perception into the Given and what is then done with the Given by the mind. The Given is, of course, Taken..." --Daniel Dennett