Cicero and Political Conversations between Citizens

48 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2013

See all articles by Gary Remer

Gary Remer

Tulane University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: 2013


As opposed to deliberative democrats, I argue here that popular deliberation is most constructive as a conversation among friends, not strangers. By “conversation among friends,” I mean more than a discussion among familiar persons who care for each other, though most political conversations among regular citizens are between actual friends. “Friends” here is intended to be understood in a broader, metaphorical sense to indicate like-minded persons. Similarly, “conversation among strangers” denotes a conversation among persons who disagree significantly about basic political values. I develop my thesis by analyzing the deliberative democratic model in relation to Cicero’s conception of conversation or sermo. Deliberative democracy envisions conversations among strangers. The absence of friendship in deliberative democratic discourse implies the lack of goodwill and trust that is necessary for productive political conversation. Cicero’s political conversation, in contrast to deliberative democracy, links conversation with friendship.

Keywords: Cicero, deliberative democracy, conversation, rhetoric

Suggested Citation

Remer, Gary, Cicero and Political Conversations between Citizens (2013). APSA 2013 Annual Meeting Paper; American Political Science Association 2013 Annual Meeting. Available at SSRN:

Gary Remer (Contact Author)

Tulane University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Tulane University
316 Norman Mayer Building
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States

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