Category Archives: civic theory

The truth in Hayek

(Washington, DC) You are reading English; I am writing it. English has elaborate rules and conventions. You can break the rules, but that has consequences beyond your control. Mess up your grammar in a job interview and you may not … Continue reading

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new research on “civic deserts”

(Washington, DC) My colleagues Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg and Felicia Sullivan coined the phrase “civic deserts” to name places where there are few or no opportunities to be active and constructive participants in civic life. The analogy is to “food deserts”–geographical communities … Continue reading

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the legacy of Elinor Ostrom and the Bloomington School

Many years ago, I met Vincent and Elinor Ostrom in the seminar room of what is now the Ostrom Workshop at Indiana University in Bloomington. I then had several personal interactions with Lin Ostrom, and I’ve been back a few … Continue reading

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against state-centric political theory

What do all these statements have in common? “Republicanism is a consequentialist doctrine which assigns to government, in particular to governmental authorities, the task of promoting freedom as n0n-domination.” — Philip Pettit, Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom and Government “Of … Continue reading

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Lifeworld and System: a primer

The great social theorist Jürgen Habermas has drawn attention–for more than half a century–to the problem that he calls the “colonization of the Lifeworld by System.” Here is my explanation, based mainly on a rare concrete example from his Theory of … Continue reading

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no justice, no peace? (on the relationship between these concepts)

As a political philosopher, I’m trained to think about justice versus injustice. Both terms are controversial. It would be hard to find two people (even two who might be labeled “social justice warriors”) who define “justice” exactly alike. We each … Continue reading

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what is polarization and when is it bad?

We might say that people are polarized when … They hold opposing positions on issues that matter to them. They hold contrasting core values that drive their opinions about issues. They identify strongly and stably with parties or ideological groups … Continue reading

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the kind of sacrifice required in nonviolence

We see nonviolent social movements forming and acting all around us right now: Charlottesville, Boston, Phoenix. There’s also a lively debate about whether nonviolence is the best response to threats like the alt-right, and if so, why. (Is nonviolence a … Continue reading

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a civic studies perspective on European citizenship

In “A Civic Studies perspective on European citizens: in search for potential in the conflict surrounding TTIP” (European Politics and Society, Aug 2017, pp. 1-27), Nora Schröder provides a learned and insightful overview of Civic Studies–consistent with the core ideals of … Continue reading

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Arendt, freedom, Trump

This passage, from a previously unpublished 1966 or 1967 lecture by Hannah Arendt, is a rich text for the week of Independence Day while Donald Trump is president: The first elements of a political philosophy corresponding to this notion of … Continue reading

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