Can We All Get Along?  

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt Pantheon, 2012, 419 pp. “This book,” writes Jonathan Haidt in his introduction to The Righteous Mind, “is about why it’s so hard for us to …









The Ends of Ideology  

A seemingly offhand personal note toward the end of this slim but remarkable volume of political theory conveys the earthy origins of an abstract egalitarian impulse. As the child of a bourgeois Italian family, Norberto Bobbio recalls how he would …



The Television Thing  

It is by now a truism that television has usurped many of the traditional roles of political parties; more than that, it sometimes seems to have all but devoured the political process. Power flows to politicians and journalists who exploit …



Vision versus Television  

In a a perfect world, the media wizards who spawned Willie Horton would be out of business. But these propagandists are just one feature of a larger crisis of democratic capitalism: the interpenetration of politics, television, entertainment, and wealth. The …



Special Interests and Public Discourse  

Since the early 1980s, no charge has been pressed so relentlessly—and effectively—against the Democratic party and the American left as that of being captive to “special interests.” Like other buzzwords—choice, family, opportunity, and (most recently) “politically correct” —the phrase “special …



Trenchant and Turgid  

Long-time readers of the New Yorker may recall cartoon-style ads for the now-defunct Philadelphia Bulletin. An odd little man in a crowd points in horror at some impending disaster while all around him remain oblivious, absorbed in the Bulletin. There …





A Tale of Two Visions  

It may be a truism to say that a clash between two broad and diametrically opposed visions of society underlies virtually all democratic political debate. Yet these polar world views are seldom explored systematically; few thinkers, in this polemical and …



On Moral Thinking  

We live in an interesting age in the history of ethics. Over the past century, philosophers have posited a variety of conceptual frameworks for moral thinking, including utilitarianism, intuitionism, and emotivism. Each of these meta-ethical theories has captured some important …