Analyse & Kritik

Journal of Philosophy and Social Theory


"Robert Talisse"

Titel: Democracy, Civility, and Semantic Descent
Autor: Robert Talisse
Seite: 5-22

In a well-functioning democracy, must citizens regard one another as political equals, despite ongoing disagreements about normatively significant questions of public policy. A conception of civility is needed to supply citizens with a common sense of the rules of political engagement. By adhering to the norms of civility, deeply divided citizens can still assure one another of their investment in democratic politics. Noting well-established difficulties with the very idea of civility, this essay raises a more fundamental problem. Any conception of civility faces the problem of semantic descent, the phenomenon by which second-order norms devolve into tools for conducting first-order disputes. The problem of incivility in politics thus is not simply that of designing a suitably inclusive view of what civility demands. It might be that political civility can be cultivated only by way of interactions that are themselves not at all political.

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Focus: Democracy under Polarization
2023 (45) Heft 1

According to a conflict-conscious conception of democracy, polarization is part of its essence. According to this ‘agonistic’ conception of democracy, polarization means that the political positions of values and interests can never merge consensually into one another but remain in opposition in order to struggle persistently and continuously for political power within a democratic framework. The ‘polarization’ currently in dispute as a new threat to democracy, on the other hand, is mean...

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