Addressing disagreement



People disagree about values, and specifically about which means and which ends are best for their groups. Perhaps the best way to improve our individual values and reach common ground is to discuss. A good discussion aimed at a decision can be called a “deliberation.” How to encourage and support deliberation is a fundamental civic question.



  • Propaganda
    It is possible to deploy money, talent, expertise, fame, and/or ownership of communications media (such as a television network) to influence public opinion. All such examples of well-resourced persuasive communication could be defined as propaganda, regardless of quality or purpose. Some definitions of the word build in negative connotations, so that a helpful mass message … Continue reading
  • Ideology
    The “word” ideology is used at least three different ways in different intellectual communities or traditions: It can mean the politically relevant opinions that any person holds. In that sense, we all have ideologies, even if we happen to hold few political opinions. It can mean relatively organized, coherent, and recognizable systems of political belief, … Continue reading
  • Motivated reasoning
    People tend to prefer, recall, and emphasize facts that support ideas they already hold, and they doubt or marginalize facts that complicate or challenge those ideas. For example, as people obtain more education, their opinions of climate change correlate more with their political ideology. Conservatives become less likely to believe in climate change, and liberals … Continue reading
  • Jürgen Habermas
    Jürgen Habermas (1929-) is a German philosopher and sociologist, often seen as the leader of the intellectual movement called the “Frankfurt School” in its second generation, when he helped to shift it away from Marxism. He is often presented as a proponent and theorist of deliberative democracy, although he does not endorse all of the … Continue reading
  • Deliberative democracy
    A deliberative democracy is a system in which people discuss before they make decisions. In order for the system to be democratic, people must have reasonably equal power over decisions, which usually means that they each have one vote (although small groups may not using voting). In order for their discussions to qualify as deliberative, … Continue reading
  • Boundaries
    Examples of boundaries that are relevant to civic life include national borders, electoral districts, the membership lists of organizations and associations, and the limits of watersheds and forests. All of these mark distinctions between inside and outside. Boundaries that exclude should be critically evaluated; the exclusion may be unjust. At the same time, research on … Continue reading
  • Exit, Voice and Loyalty
    In Exit, Voice and Loyalty (1970), Albert O. Hirschman argues that people who are dissatisfied with groups of all kinds have two basic choices: Exit: Leaving the group. Then they do not have to put up with it or continue to be complicit in its actions. Exit is a human right. It can also improve … Continue reading
  • Sacrifice
    Participating in politics or in a social movement can involve sacrifice. Some sacrifices are very modest, such as taking time out to vote or contributing a small amount of money to a cause or organization. But some people devote their lives to causes, at high personal cost, and many have died in political struggles. Danielle … Continue reading

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