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Why Do We Disagree About Politics? The role of knowledge in democratic societies

Panel Discussion
Why Do We Disagree About Politics, poster
Wednesday, February 21, 2024, 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm

“Democracy is a mechanism for distributing knowledge about matters of public interest, allowing us to decide which politicians should govern.” This popular view paints the picture that a politician's role is to inform voters about what is in our best interest. Losing elections, then, must be the result of ineffective communication: “If only we'd managed to get our message across to people properly”, the story goes, “then they would have seen why they had to vote for us!”

This picture clearly falls short of the messy reality of politics. But why? Does it portray an overly rationalistic picture of the democratic process? Is this picture overly idealistic? Does it overestimate the importance of (conveying) knowledge in democratic decisionmaking? Does it overestimate the potential for people to know what is in their best interest? How can we even determine what a person's “best interest” truly is?

The discussion will be moderated by Eva Stanzl, journalist at the Wiener Zeitung.

Doors open at 19:00. Discussion begins promptly at 19:30 and will be followed by a reception at 21:00.

Registration required.