Dr. Robert B. Talisse
W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy
March 2, 2021
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.
Dr. Robert B. Talisse is the W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University. An internationally recognized theorist of democracy, Talisse has lectured throughout the world about democracy, moral disagreement, political polarization, and the ethics of citizenship. Overdoing Democracy: Why We Must Put Politics in its Place is his tenth book. Among the books he has authored are Why We Argue (And How We Should) (with Scott Aikin), Democracy and Moral Conflict, A Pragmatist Philosophy of Democracy, and Democracy After Liberalism.
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