Civility as a Reciprocal Public Virtue

by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse Constitutional democracy is a system for conducting politics under conditions where citizens, understood as free and equal persons, disagree profoundly about what is good. Naturally, such disagreements extend to politics itself. That is, we expect democratic citizens to disagree, sometimes even sharply, about the fundamental aims and…

Deep Disagreements and the Rhetoric of Red Pills

by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse 1. Deep Disagreement It is a common enough occurrence. In arguing with someone, as a controversial view is supported, even more controversial reasons are given, to be followed by more and more controversial commitments. A regular strategy in what might be called normal argument is that arguing…

A Problem for Intellectual Pluralism

by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse Disagreement is a pervasive feature of our ordinary lives. We disagree with family members over what would make for a good Tuesday night dinner, with colleagues over how to solve some thorny problem, and with neighbors over whether the new highway off-ramp is a good or bad…

Deep Disagreements and Argumentative Optimism

by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse We all have had moments when we feel that those with whom we disagree not only reject the point we are focused on at the moment, but also reject our values, general beliefs, modes of reasoning, and even our hopes. In such circumstances, productive critical conversation seems…

‘Alternative Facts’ and the Necessity of Liberal Education

by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse Kellyanne Conway's January 22 appearance on Meet the Press (transcript) has already attracted a good deal of attention, given her use of the seemingly Orwellian expression ‘alternative facts.' The idiom serves to confirm the view many take of the Trump administration's approach to honest deliberation. In light…

Post-Truth Politics?

by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse Still reeling from the unexpected outcome of the US presidential election, commentators understandably have begun diagnosing the political and intellectual condition of the country. One assessment that has been gaining traction especially among Left-leaning intellectuals is that, in electing Mr. Trump to the Presidency, the United States…

Pick Up The Pieces

by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse Early this week, we had prepared a column for today titled “Presidential Debates: What's the Point?,” which discusses the role of presidential debates in American national politics. We argued that the televised spectacles called “debates” served more as alternating campaign commercials than as occasions for reasoned disagreement…

Two Paradoxes of Public Philosophy

by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse These days there is a nearly constant clamor among academic philosophers for more public philosophy. We've already expressed puzzlement about what public philosophy is and what public philosophers are trying to achieve. It's likely that our puzzlement has been dismissed among public philosophy enthusiasts as nothing more…