Category Archives: civic theory

Civic Deserts and our present crisis

My colleagues Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg and Felicia Sullivan have published an article in The Conversation that I believe supports an important diagnosis of the 2016 election and our current crisis. Their article is entitled “Study: 60 percent of rural millennials lack … Continue reading

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new project on the socio-emotional impact of civic engagement

(New York City) People can gain satisfaction, empathy, purpose, insight, and a host of other socio-emotional or psycho-social benefits from taking part in civic life. Also, if they demonstrate psychological maturity or even excellence, it can help them to be responsible civic actors. On … Continue reading

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on the Deep State, the administrative state, and the civil service

The last few days have seen several prominent articles about “the Deep State”: by David Remnick in the New Yorker, Marc Ambinder in The Washington Post, Julie Hirschfeld Davis in the New York Times, and Kevin Williamson in The National Review, … Continue reading

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microgenetic, ontogenetic, and sociogenetic civic learning

At a Center for Ethics & Education conference last week in Kansas City, I learned from Larry Nucci about an important taxonomy. In my summary: Microgenetic learning means obtaining particular knowledge, skills, concepts, values, etc. through particular experiences. A student doesn’t know about … Continue reading

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hearing the faint music of democracy

Democracy has many inherent flaws. This is just the start of a comprehensive list: Majority tyranny: the many may oppress the few. Free-riding: it doesn’t pay to be informed or active when you can let others engage instead. Propaganda: it works. … Continue reading

Posted in civic theory, populism | 1 Comment

the question of sacrifice in politics

(Atlanta, en route to Starkville, MS) Sacrifice can be a political act; often politics requires it. Sacrifice would be unnecessary in an ideal society and pointless in a completely static one; but in an unjust society that is subject to … Continue reading

Posted in civic theory, deliberation, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

assessing the charge of respectability politics

“Respectability politics” is a valuable term of criticism. Apparently, Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham coined it in 1993. It refers to a strategy of trying to look “better” in the eyes of the dominant group in order to be accepted and make progress. Since … Continue reading

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Saturday’s democratic vistas

The ideal of democracy gets weak support today. Republican presidents from T.R. to George W. Bush presented the United States as a champion of democracy. But a current conservative talking point holds that the US is meant to be a republic, not … Continue reading

Posted in civic theory, populism | 2 Comments

on the relationship between ethics and politics

The basic ethical question is “What should I do?” Three prevalent ways of addressing that question are: 1) to universalize, asking what you’d want anyone to do who was similarly situated, 2) to maximize, asking how you can do the … Continue reading

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Apply for the Ninth Annual Summer Institute of Civic Studies

The ninth annual Summer Institute of Civic Studies will take place from June 12 to June 22, 2017 at Tufts University. It will be an intensive, two-week, interdisciplinary seminar that brings together faculty, advanced graduate students, and practitioners from many … Continue reading

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