The Puzzle of Cicero’s Philosophy of Religion

by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse Cicero’s philosophical dialogues are notoriously difficult.  In some cases, as with the Academica and the Republic, their fragmentary state exacerbates the challenge of interpretation. In other cases, as with On Ends, the breadth of the discussion makes it difficult to locate the thread. In every case, Cicero…

How Does Belief Polarization Work?

by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse We have noted previously that there are two different phenomena called “polarization.” The first, political polarization, refers to the ideological distance between opposing political parties. When it’s rampant, political rivals share no common ground, and thus cannot find a basis for cooperation. Political polarization certainly poses a…

Our Polarization Problem

by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse Popular political commentary from across the spectrum is replete with warnings social about “bubbles,” “silos,” and “echo chambers.” These are said to produce “closure,” “groupthink,” and an “alternate reality.” In turn, these forces result in the dysfunction of polarization, a condition where political officials and ordinary citizens…

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…