Category Archives: civic theory

saving Habermas from the deliberative democrats

“God save me from the Marxists”–attributed to Karl Marx Jürgen Habermas is often presented as the master theorist of deliberative democracy, the author who believes that a society should approximate an “ideal speech situation” in which “the only force is the … Continue reading

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starting the 9th annual Summer Institute of Civic Studies

The 9th annual Summer Institute of Civic Studies begins this morning and continues for two weeks, with 6½ hours of seminar discussion daily.  This year’s participants hold degrees in religion and literature, social policy, social welfare, international relations, political theory, philosophy, management, education, public … Continue reading

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don’t let the behavioral revolution make you fatalistic

Beginning in the late 1960s, Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman shook the prevailing assumption that human beings can plan and make decisions rationally. Their experiments demonstrated that we use “simplifying heuristics rather than extensive algorithmic processing” to make decisions. We err in predictable … Continue reading

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civic life and health research

This is an online lecture (video, slides, and discussion questions) entitled “Civic Life and Health Research.” It’s offered by, and thanks to, the Tufts Clinical Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI), where I hold a research professorship. Dr. Thomas Concannon introduces the CTSI and … Continue reading

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social movements depend on social capital (but you can make your own)

The Montgomery Bus Boycott was the glorious chapter in the American Civil Rights Movement that began when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the segregated bus. This story is usually misrepresented in ways that hide Parks’ planning, … Continue reading

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mini-conference on Facts, Values, and Strategies

We are about to begin discussions of the papers listed below, in draft form. They are destined for The Good Society journal. The conversations are at the Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts For me, the underlying rationale goes … Continue reading

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was the Civil Rights Movement successful because of the Cold War?

It’s widely argued that the federal government made concessions on civil rights between 1945 and 1970 because blatant racial oppression was embarrassing during the global struggle against communism. Doug McAdam illustrates this argument by noting the “stark contrast” between FDR and Truman on issues … Continue reading

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Habermas, Ostrom, Gandhi (II)

(Santa Monica, CA) On Monday, I posted an argument that three traditions of theory and practice provide what we need for a civic theory, which is a theory of what we should do. It is different from a political theory that asks what should … Continue reading

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Ostrom, Habermas, and Gandhi are all we need

(Rancho Palos Verdes, CA) Back in 2014, I argued: [Elinor] “Ostrom plus [Jürgen] Habermas is nearly all we need.” I define a good citizen as anyone who seriously asks the question “What should we do?” Citizens face a dizzying variety of hard … Continue reading

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the New Social Movements of the seventies, eighties, and today

(Oxford, OH) By the 1980s, a large literature distinguished the “New Social Movements” from older strands of politics. Jürgen Habermas chose to list the following New Social Movements then active in Germany: “the anti-nuclear and environmental movements,” “the peace movement”; “the … Continue reading

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