Friday, October 22 at 2pm ET

When engaged in democratic politics, it often strikes us that our opponents are not only wrong, but in the wrong. We can see them as not merely mistaken, but ignorant and corrupt. So why not just work with our allies to overcome our opponents? Why bother trying to maintain civil relations with them? In this presentation, Robert Talisse, Professor of Philosophy and Political Science at Vanderbilt University, and author of the forthcoming book Sustaining Democracy: What We Owe to the Other Side, will share a novel reason why we must commit to working with our opponents.

Talisse will explore the widespread phenomenon of belief polarization, the tendency for like-minded groups to become more extreme in their thinking. Research shows that in the absence of civil relations with our political rivals, polarization increases as our political alliances grow conformist and hierarchical. As our coalitions grow more homogeneous, they also breed infighting and encourage splintering. In other words, in declining to maintain civil relations with the other side, we damage our own.

In a democracy, we can only pursue our obligation to seek justice by building coalitions with others; therefore we must strive to build and maintain functioning relationships across lines of difference. We need our political enemies in order to maintain political alliances, and we need political alliances in order to seek justice.