Chapter

Unity and Difference in Civic Life

in Talking about Race

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780226869063
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226869087 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226869087.003.0002
Unity and Difference in Civic Life

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In the work of Hannah Arendt, as in that of John Dewey and Jürgen Habermas, public talk is important for its very existence as well as for the decisions and actions that flow from it. Even though these theorists are working from different philosophical traditions, they all value the “existence” of public talk, aside from its effects on policy outcomes. How, in the course of public life, should people deal with the tension between unity and diversity? This question lies at the heart of a longstanding debate within democratic theory and political culture in America. This chapter examines the debate over privileging unity versus privileging cultural difference, and uses this debate to illuminate the tensions one ought to expect in the practice of civic dialogue.

Keywords: Hannah Arendt; John Dewey; Jürgen Habermas; public talk; unity; diversity; democratic theory; political culture; civic dialogue

Chapter.  7895 words. 

Subjects: US Politics

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