Respect & Judgement in Political Discourse
Jul 29, 2020
Speech codes on campuses. Disinvitations of speakers to events. Attempts to ‘cancel’ people over political differences. There is little doubt that political discourse and activism has become magnified—and mainstream—in current times.
That is why it is vital to bring under scrutiny the quality, standards and methods of political discourse that we see around us, and raise pertinent questions about it. For instance:
1. Has the quality of political discussion and debate deteriorated in recent times, compared to past eras? Or has cultural and political discourse always been messy, in the context of a given time period?
2. What are the right standards for engaging with others on matters of culture and politics? What should be considered when deciding whether to debate someone you disagree with, or ally with someone you have agreements with?
3. What does it mean to take moral disagreements seriously? Should we ‘cancel’ those who don’t share our political beliefs, or should we regard all political differences as morally inconsequential, and irrelevant for maintaining close, personal relationships? Or is there a better approach to moral disagreement, outside this alternative?
4. Are respect and moral judgement incompatible with each other? Is it possible to maintain a respectful and dignified conversation with someone, while pronouncing strong negative moral judgement on their ideas? How can we achieve this mode of discussion and debate?