Details of Professor Anderson's book for the Series will follow in due course.
Link to the Uehiro Series in Practical Ethics on the OUP website: http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/category/academic/series/philosophy/uspe.do
Professor Anderson's article 'Can We Talk?: Communicating Moral Concern in an Era of Polarized Politics' is freely available in our open access journal, The Journal of Practical Ethics.
Journal of Practical Ethics 10(1) 2022
Democracy is endangered by toxic political discourse, including disinformation, harassment, and mass shaming. These forms of discourse activate and express esteem competition among rival identity groups, as well as ethnocentric fear and resentment. Such competition and antagonistic feelings derail democratic practices, including fact-based discussion of problems and policies to address them. When people interpret every concern raised by a different group as an attack on their own group’s standing, they resist consideration of the facts to avoid exposure to shame and blame. Yet, when the point of raising facts is to orient others to moral concerns, how can we communicate these concerns without blaming and shaming those who resist? Without denying that these practices are sometimes justified, I suggest alternative ways to communicate moral concerns so that those who resist shame and blame, and who fear those who raise concerns, can come to share them. These alternatives are part of an ethos of democratic communication, which ordinary citizens should practice to enable democracy to succeed.
Cite: Anderson, E. S., (2022) “Can We Talk?: Communicating Moral Concern in an Era of Polarized Politics”, Journal of Practical Ethics 10(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.3998/jpe.1180
Lecture 1: What Has Gone Wrong? Populist politics and the mobilization of fear and resentment
I diagnose the deterioration of public discourse regarding basic facts to the rise of populist politics, which is powered by the activation of identity-based fear and resentment of other groups. Populist politics "hears" the factual claims of other groups as insults to the groups it mobilizes, and thereby replaces factual inquiry with modes of discourse, such as denial, derision, and slander, designed to defend populist groups against criticism and whip up hostility toward rival groups. Nonpopulist groups, in turn, add fuel to the fire by blaming and shaming those who seem stubbornly and ignorantly attached to false claims in defiance of evidence.
Lecture 2: Improving Political Discourse (1): Re-learning how to talk about facts across group identities
I argue that citizen science and local deliberation within internally diverse micro-publics offer models of how political discourse can be re-oriented toward accuracy-oriented factual claims relevant to constructive policy solutions. Enabling such discourse requires that citizens observe norms against insults and other identity-based competitive discourse, and in favor of serious listening across identities.
Lecture 3: Improving Political Discourse (2): Communicating moral concern beyond blaming and shaming
People often resist facts because accepting facts exposes them to shame and blame. Yet, when the point of raising facts is to orient others to moral concerns, how can we communicate these concerns without resorting on blaming and shaming those who resist? Without denying that sometimes we must resort to these practices, I suggest alternative ways in which testimony and empathy can be mobilized to communicate moral concern so that those who resist shame and blame can come to share such concern.