Overdoing democracy: The problem of political polarization
Tue 18 August 2020
Robert Talisse, Vanderbilt University
11:00am - 12:00pm
Democracy is such an important social good that it seems natural to think that more is always better. However, we also recognize that it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. In this talk, Robert Talisse (Vanderbilt University) draws from current findings regarding political polarization to argue that, as important a social good as democracy is, it is nonetheless possible for citizens to overdo it. Today, our everyday activities are increasingly fused with our political profiles: commercial spaces, workplaces, professions, schools, churches, sports teams, and even public parks now tend to embody a particular political valence. When politics is permitted to saturate our social environments, we impair the capacities we need in order to enact democracy well. In a slogan, when we overdo democracy in this way, we undermine it. The solution is to build venues and activities where people can engage in cooperative activities together in which their political identities are neither bolstered nor suppressed, but simply beside the point. If we want to do democracy well, we need to put politics in its right place.
About the speaker
Robert Talisse is a political philosopher focusing on democracy and civic ethics. He has authored over a dozen academic books and more than 100 peer-reviewed articles. In addition, Talisse hosts the podcast Why We Argue, and co-hosts the podcast New Books in Philosophy. Talisse is also a regular contributor to various public philosophy venues such as Aeon, Scientific American Mind, 3 Quarks Daily, 3AM Magazine, Skeptical Inquirer, Free Inquiry, Think, and Institute for Arts and Ideas magazine.