Negotiating Civic Engagement, Institutional Control and the Common Good”

26 September 2019, 12:00-13:20
Veröld – House of Vigdís: Main auditorium (VHV 023)

Open University Lecture: “Democratic Constitutional Design: Negotiating Civic Engagement, Institutional Control and the Common Good”
Speaker: Robert Talisse, Professor of Philosophy and Department Chair Philosophy Department, Vanderbilt University

Robert Talisse.

In this talk Robert Talisse draws from his new book, Overdoing Democracy, in presenting recent findings regarding political polarization. Although common analyses recommend that the way to address with polarization is to encourage citizens and politicians to “reach across the aisle,” data show that this strategy frequently backfires, escalating rather than easing partisan hostility. Offering an alternative prescription, Talisse argues that polarization is a result of the near total infiltration of political allegiances and identities into our social lives. 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.