Catholic University of America: The Meaningfulness of Democracy

The County Election painting

Catholic University: “The Meaning of Democracy Today: A Dialogue between Charles Taylor and Michael Walzer”


The McLean Center for the Study of Culture and Values at Catholic University of America is hosting Charles Taylor and Michael Walzer to speak on the meaning of democracy:

These are difficult days for democracy. Democratic institutions find themselves threatened, on the one hand, by nationalist movements and leaders with authoritarian tendencies, and on the other by waning civic engagement and the power of economic interests. At such a time we are well-advised to reflect on some fundamental questions concerning what makes democracy meaningful and worthwhile. How do democratic practices contribute to efforts to lead a meaningful life? How can traditional communal systems of meaning, be they religious or philosophical, contribute to—or harm—a vibrant democratic culture? How do the politics of meaning and interpretation shape democratic life? What intellectual resources for meaning-making might help revive the ethos of democracy today? For a deep and wide-ranging exploration of the relations between democracy and meaning, it is hard to imagine two better guides than the eminent philosophers and public intellectuals Charles Taylor and Michael Walzer.

Friday, November 15, 2019 • 9:30 AM
Caldwell Hall Auditorium • Catholic University of America

Free and open to the public

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Charles Taylor is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at McGill University in Montreal.  He is an internationally acclaimed scholar of intellectual history, the philosophy of social science, hermeneutics, political theory, and religious studies.  His best-known books are Sources of the Self (1989) and A Secular Age (2007).  He has been awarded the Templeton Prize, the Kyoto Prize, the Berggruen Prize, the Kluge Prize and, most recently, the Ratzinger Prize.  In Canada he was a candidate for the House of Commons for the New Democratic Party and from 2007 to 2008 he was co-chair of the Quebec government’s Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences.  His current book project is Democratic Degenerations.

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Michael Walzer is Professor Emeritus of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.  One of America’s foremost political thinkers and moral philosophers, he works in the fields of democratic theory, the ethics of war, distributive justice, social criticism, and the Jewish political tradition.  He is the author of over thirty books, including Just and Unjust Wars (1977), Spheres of Justice (1983), and On Toleration (1997).  He has delivered the prestigious Tanner Lectures on Human Values and the Horkheimer Lectures, and received the Spinozalens award for his work on ethics and society.  He is a long-time political activist and served as co-editor of the journal Dissent for over three decades.  His most recent book is A Foreign Policy for the Left (2018).

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The McLean Center for the Study of Culture and Values at Catholic University of America aims to break through ideological barriers with series of joint colloquia and general conferences held on crucial contemporary issues, including cultural issues of race relations, refugees, globalization, and spiritual values.

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