Research Seminar

CANCELLED Robert B. Talisse: The Problem of Polarization

Date: 25 March 2020
Time: 10:00-12:00

Robert B. Talisse is W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee


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. 

Robert B. Talisse specializes in political theory, with an emphasis on democracy, citizenship, and political disagreement. His most recent research is focused on the ways in which public discourse can be undermined by social media and other features of contemporary democratic societies. His latest book, Overdoing Democracy: Why We Must Put Politics in its Place, explores the phenomenon of political polarization, arguing that when citizen allow their political divides to infiltrate the entirely of the social worlds, they actually erode their capacities for competent democratic citizenship.

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