Deliberating Across Differences
"Deliberating Across Differences," the CDD's second lecture series, explored ways to promote more productive deliberation across differing or opposing points of views and experiences. As Cass Sustein reminds us in The Second Bill of Rights, the framers of our Constitution envisioned deliberation among people who disagreed on issues both large and small, with a view toward discovering the ideas and policies most beneficial to the common good. Today, deliberating and communicating across differences is a bigger challenge than ever before.
How can we promote and sustain deliberation across groups of unlike minds? How can we communicate across differences of gender, race, religion, economics, region, and ideology in order to promote the larger public good? What can we do to encourage robust yet civil deliberation in our increasingly diverse society? The abilities to agree, disagree, and discuss important issues are basic to engaged citizenship in a vibrant democracy. Yet most US citizens imagine deliberating with others in only the most negative terms: those "shouting head" cable TV programs or street confrontations between demonstrators with irreconcilable points of view. Instead of reasoned debate, we now too often witness only polar disagreement. Instead of reflective deliberation, we see citizens angered or silenced by the sense that they have no voice. Instead of negotiation and compromise, we see our political leaders resorting to the politics of personal destruction. Little wonder our students and fellow citizens feel frustrated with the state of public discourse.
Professor LuMing Mao
Anthony Appiah (The Ethics of Identity, Cosmopolitanism), LuMing Mao (Reading Chinese Fortune Cookie), Sharon Crowley (Toward a Civil Discourse), and Krista Ratcliffe (Rhetorical Listening) were among the scholars we hosted as part of the Deliberating Across Difference initiative. A series of lectures and colloquia, as well as an edited collection (edited by Keith Gilyard and Stacey Sheriff), will be the outgrowth of this program.