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…

On “Fake News”

by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse Fake news is a problem. That’s one thing that most people can agree on, despite the expanding breadth of their various political disagreements. So what is fake news? In their recent article in the journal Science, David Lazer, Matthew Baum, et al. define fake news as “fabricated…

Intellectual Blame

Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse 1. Here's a philosophical heuristic about normative assessment: Domains and grounds for assessing responsibility will track domains and grounds for holding ourselves and others to be praise-worthy and blame-worthy. So, if there are unique ways to be blameworthy, there are coordinate ways in which one can be irresponsible.…

Moral Tragedy?

by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse It was probably Aristotle who first took careful notice of the special role that the concept of happiness plays in our thinking about how to live. Happiness, he argued, is the final end of human activity, that for the sake of which every action is performed. Although…

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…

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…