Some commentators have emitted the objection that people's premises can't be shifted through reason, and therefore reason will be of no help in debating them. I think this requires a bit of pushback.
I think this reasoning is based on two assumptions:
- People understand their own premises, i.e. they are explicitly posited and non contradictory.
- Their conclusions derive from those premises.
Any amount of non-academic debate (including non academic debate with academics) will show that it is not at all the case. People usually haven't identified the premises their position implies.
Sometimes it's because they haven't taken the time to think it through, sometimes it's because they know this premise is unpopular and would loose them the favor of the public (for example some opposants to abortion hold the premise that women are inferior in right to men and weasely, hem, wisely keep it quiet).
Philosophy being at it's heart the endeavour of analysing and ordering ideas and the way they are expressed through language, is paramount to this kind of discussion. By showing people their premises are contradictory, or by exhibiting their unpopular premise, it is possible, using reason, to produce the emotion of shame that will lead them to reconsider their view, or at least reveal their lack of credibility. (Of course it supposes people feel shame at the idea of being proven wrong, the emotional anchor needed to articulate reason and emotion. Alas, some people have no shame...)
The discussion then does not take the form of "you have to agree with me or, you're a bad person", but shifts to "if you agree with me on A and B, then you have to agree on C (or display your lack of good faith)". Often the target is not the debating party, whose emotional investment will prevent them from admiting to be wrong, but the undecided people who get to hear or read the debate.
One example of blatant self contradiction is the people who claim women have no right to bodily autonomy when it comes to pregnancy (i.e. 9 months of suffering and health endangerment) but claim to have full bodily autonomy when it comes to vaccination or wearing a simple paper mask in public.
The debate about free speech is also riddled with people who just want to say whatever they want while silencing others. Very few can give a consistent explanation for why free speech is important and what limitations should exist (on both sides of the aisle).
So yes, definitely familiarity with the identification and analysis of ideas, while not a super weapon due to the strength of emotions, is of great help when engaging with public discourse.