Cicero and Political Conversations between Citizens
48 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2013
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
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