Recently Published: Dr. Molly Scudder’s “Beyond Empathy and Inclusion”

CLA-ALL Research News

Dr. Molly Scudder, Assistant Professor of Political Science, has recently had her book, “Beyond Empathy and Inclusion: The Challenge of Listening in Democratic Deliberation,” published by Oxford University Press.

Dr. Scudder’s work examines how to achieve democratic rule in large pluralistic societies where citizens are deeply divided. Scudder argues that listening is key; in a democracy, citizens do not have to agree or even empathize with their political opponents, but they do have to listen to them.

She offers a systematic theory of listening acts to explain the democratic force of listening. Modeled after “speech act theory,” Scudder’s “listening act theory” shows how we do something in the act of listening, independent of the outcomes of this act. In listening to our fellow citizens, we recognize their moral equality of voice.

Being heard by our fellow citizens is what ensures we have a say in the laws to which we are held. While listening is admittedly difficult, this book investigates how to motivate citizens to listen seriously, attentively, and humbly, even to those with whom they disagree.

Mark Button, political theorist and Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, writes the following: “Scudder’s impressive combination of normative deliberative theory, empirical political science, communication scholarship, and social psychology opens up fertile new directions for the theory and practice of democratic politics today. I hope we possess the wisdom to listen to her.”

The book is currently available in e-book format through Purdue’s library.

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