Philosophy has not enjoyed a prominent place in current education movements aimed at strengthening civic engagement and promoting deliberative democracy. This paper provides a brief overview of the history of democracy and philosophy that demonstrates their long but troubled relationship. We argue that the history of Western philosophy provides a much overlooked foundational role in deliberative democracy that must be understood if we are to educate citizens. Furthermore, we argue that philosophy’s central contribution to the contemporary understanding and practice of deliberative democracy is its fostering of the critique of assumptions. We conclude the article with specific pedagogic recommendations that can bring philosophy and deliberative democracy to life for our students both in and beyond the classroom.
Abstract: Idealistic or bird's-eye views of cities often blind us to the mutual interdependence of philosophy and the city. But there are philosophers who refuse utopian positions in favor of philosophies that are grounded in urban streets. Meagher argues that Engels and de Certeau are two such philosophers, who, taken together, can provide us with an understanding of how philosophy can both offer a normative critique of the city as well as guidelines for resisting social injustices discovered through that critique. Meagher demonstrates how such a reconceptualization of the task of the philosopher can inform our understanding of both cities and philosophy by engaging in a philosophical 'walking tour' of Scranton, Pennsylvania, a small industrial city facing challenges in an age of globalization.
Extending Agamben’s analysis, I argue that The Declaration of Independence founds the American state of exception.The failure of British colonial rule to recognize the full rights of its colonists is the exception that justifies the suspension of British law for the sake of preserving natural law.But that exception quickly becomes the rule as the nation is founded and developed.Jefferson’s agrarian ideal depends on both the city and the immigrant in complex ways.Both are eventually incorporated into the nation as necessary evils—an on-going threat that justifies a permanent state of emergency.The sovereign authority therefore legitimates the supposedly exceptional circumstances that require the suspension of constitutional rights and the imposition of military operations in the civil sphere.
Increasingly, the threat of the city and the immigrant Other legitimizes the US as a permanent state of exception.A new locus of the state of exception is the rurban area.Neither urban nor rural, it is a threatened place, a marginalized place.As such, it draws marginalized people, the paradigm of whom is the immigrant.In this paper I focus on the particular case of Hazleton, Pennsylvania.Hazleton leads a US movement of ‘rurban’ towns that have passed laws targeting Latino immigrants. While this movement is intended to usurp federal sovereign authority on the grounds that the federal government has failed in its responsibilities to control its southern border, the rhetoric and strategies that Hazleton employs mimic the national ones from which they supposedly declare their independence.
For the published version with accompanying photographs, please see: “Declarations of Independence:The U.S. War on Immigrants,” City, vol. 13, no. 1, spring 2009.
FORTHCOMING IN 2015: PHILOSOPHICAL STREETWALKING: grounding philosophy and the city by Sharon M. Meagher (SUNY Press). This monograph is based on Dr. Meagher's reflections on the history of Western philosophy and its relation to the city. It may be used as a companion to PHILOSOPHY and the CITY for upper level undergraduate and graduate courses.
Bibliography from Philosophical Papers
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