Search the Lounge


« The Devil is in the Details | Main | Does Aaron Sorkin's Script Depart from the Spirit of To Kill a Mockingbird? »

March 27, 2018


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Patrick S. O'Donnell

Thank you for this inspirational post. (Erratum: The Kids Are Alright ... and of course we mean by these words something rather different from the song’s lyrics!)

In a recent blog post, “Philosophy of Education, Education as Philosophy & Education for Democracy” (largely about some ideas from John Dewey), I invoked a contemporary work on democratic theory and praxis that takes seriously the reality and consequences of “sealing off of different types of life experiences from one another” in contemporary democratic societies (such as they are), as well as the prospects for overcoming same, namely, Robert E. Goodin’s Reflective Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2003), a taste from which follows:

“Here I shall be attempting to identify deliberative democratic methods for evoking more reflective preferences as inputs into the political process. Properly crafted deliberative processes can produce preferences which are more reflective, in the sense of being:

• more empathetic with the plight of others;
• more considered, and hence both better informed and more stable; and
• more far-reaching in both time and space, taking fuller account of distant periods, distant peoples and different interests.

The key innovation I shall be offering is, in the first instance, a theoretical one. What is required is a new way of conceptualizing democratic deliberation—as something which occurs internally, within each individual’s head, and not exclusively or even primarily in an interpersonal setting. It happens in interpersonal settings, too, of course. Indeed, that is a central plank in my argument on this score. The philosophy of mind and language teaches us that, even in face-to-face conversation, much of the making sense of what the other is saying to you goes on inside your own head. You have to imagine yourself in the place of the other in trying to decode what she seems to be trying to tell you. If that is what goes on in ordinary interpersonal discussion, the same sort of mentally imagining oneself in the place of others might well occur in the absence of any actual other. A suitably informed imaginary might serve the same internal-discursive purpose.”

Goodin proceeds to draw several inferences from the above, including the proposition that “cultural institutions and policies matter;” that “policies and institutions that facilitate social mixing—having people whose social circumstances are radically unlike your own living nearby or, going to school with you or your children, riding public transportation alongside you—can again serve as an aid to the political imaginary;” and that “consultative procedures [e.g., study circles], even of an apparently toothless sort, could also actually have far more democratic bite than we might ordinarily suppose.”

The organized, passionate and thoughtful kids in your post thus illustrate, I think, yet another example we might add to the list immediately above: nonviolent protests and demonstrations likewise capable of exemplifying or motivating “deliberative democratic methods for evoking more reflective preferences as inputs into the political process.”

Deep State Special Legal Counsel

Somebody needs to exercise leadership in this Nation and bring us together and finally espouse real American values. Inclusion, common sense, decency, and that core constitutional value, human rights/dignity. It hasn't happened since January 20, 2017, 12:01 pm EDT. Somebody taught these high school kids well...thanks to all their public school teachers and engaged parent(s).

Rebecca Zietlow

Patrick, Thanks for your comment. I agree that these kids are engaging in deliberative democracy, and it's great to see how reflective they are at this young age.

Deep State Special Counsel, Yes, and the kids often talk about being products of excellent public schools.

The comments to this entry are closed.


  • StatCounter
Blog powered by Typepad