Philosophical Dialogue and the Civic Virtues: Modeling Democracy in the Classroom

Analytic Teaching and Philosophical Praxis 43 (2):59–77 (2023)
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Abstract

Political polarization is on the rise, undermining the shared space of public reason necessary for a thriving democracy and making voters more willing than ever to dismiss the perspectives of their political opponents. This destructive tendency is especially problematic when it comes to issues of race and gender, as informed views on these topics necessarily require engaging with those whose experiences may differ from our own. In order to help our students combat further polarization, we created a course on "The Philosophy of Race, Class, and Gender" that incorporated intergroup dialogues - small, diverse, semester-long discussion groups-that focused on building the civic virtues of toleration, egalitarianism, and solidarity. In this article, we describe our approach, including the evidence that intergroup dialogue can act as a catalyst for democratic dialogue. We hope that the practice of intergroup dialogue can help other instructors cultivate the civic virtues in their philosophy classrooms as well.

Author Profiles

Wes Siscoe
University of Notre Dame

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