Why the presumption of good faith can make our lives civil again

Taking time for thoughtful consideration has fallen out of fashion, writes Emily Chamlee-Wright. How can we restore good faith and good judgement to our increasingly polarized conversations?

  • The clamor of the crowd during a heated discussion can make it hard to tell who is right and who is wrong. Adam Smith wrote that the loudness of blame can stupefy our good judgment.
  • Equally, when we're talking with just one other person, our previous assumptions and knee-jerk reactions can cloud our good judgment.
  • If you want to find clarity in moments like that, Emily Chamlee-Wright recommends practicing the presumption of good faith. That means that we should presume, unless we have good evidence to the contrary, that the other person's intent is not to deceive or to offend us, but to learn our point of view.
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When can government restrict speech? | Classical Liberalism

When it comes to individual freedom of expression, the power of external authorities must be limited.

  • Freedom of expression, in the context of classical liberal political philosophy, is a universally accepted standard that limits how government can censor speech. This speech includes what we say and write, as well as what we consume.
  • Former ACLU president, Nadine Strossen says false assumptions about free speech emerge at both ends of the spectrum: Many wrongly assume free speech is absolute, while many others wrongly assume certain types of speech (pornography, for example) receive no protection.
  • When speech poses an imminent danger of violence, this is the only case in which it can be restricted by a governmental body.
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What is classical liberalism? | Classical Liberalism

As a moral and political philosophy, classical liberalism lays a framework for the good society.

  • The moral and political philosophy known as classical liberalism is built around a number of core concepts, including, perhaps most importantly, human dignity and individual liberty.
  • Emily Chamlee-Wright, president of the Institute for Humane Studies, introduces these two principles as forces that shape the liberal notion of justice. This applies to both individuals' treatment of others, as well as the government's treatment of individuals.
  • This just conduct contributes to the liberal ideal: the good society. By emphasizing the individual, liberalism encourages collaboration and cooperation while also offering the freedom to make choices and learn from failure.
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We need music to be political, not just entertaining

Protest music is a natural feature of humanity.

Photo by Lucian Perkins /for The Washington Post via Getty Images
  • Music has long played an essential role in the political fabric of cultures.
  • Some fans want musicians to "shut up and sing," as if artists were not also citizens.
  • Protest songs have been an important aspect of the Arts for centuries.
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The philosophy of protest: Thoreau, King, and Civil Disobedience

The protesters on the street aren't just taking up space, they carry on a well thought out tradition.

(Public Domain/CNP/Getty Images)
  • Nonviolent protests designed to effect change are a common occurrence around the world, especially today.
  • While they may seem to be a sign of sour grapes or contrarianism, there is a serious philosophical backing to them.
  • Thinkers from Thoreau to Gandhi and King have made the case for civil disobedience as a legitimate route to change.
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