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Please look at the following:

Unlike western systems of philosophy, in India, the various branches co-existed over centuries, and sometimes evolved after intense debates among them.

Why has among themselves not been used in the above? What difference would the usage of among themselves make in the above sentence?

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    Since the intended sense is between them (them = the various branches of philosophy) it's better to have non-reflexive them. Using themselves here would tend to carry the implication that the various debates might have been conducted wholly or in part within each of those various branches, but pragmatically the intended sense is probably that the debates were primarily between different branches.of philosophy. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica May 30 '16 at 14:16
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One could take among themselves to mean that the debates were held within the various branches intramurally rather than between the branches.

Consider:

There were various delegations in the auditorium, debating among themselves which candidate to vote for.

I would take that to mean that each delegation was having its own debate, not that there was an open floor debate.

On the other hand, debating among them would mean there was an open debate, the delegations debating each other.

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