This is the inaugural lecture for a new series of public conversations
presented by the Aurora Forum and the McCoy Family Center for Ethics in
Society at Stanford on virtues, vices, and the conditions that enable
education for social improvement. The series aims to generate critical inquiry into virtues and vices as forces relevant to such
issues as education, civic engagement, democracy, and globalization.
Citizenship is the struggle, carried out through conversation, to achieve accounts of the world that accord with norms of friendship and provide grounds for action. —Danielle Allen, “The Power of Education,” Aims of Education Address at the University of Chicago, 20 September 2001.
In her book, Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship since Brown v. Board of Education, Danielle Allen discusses those sacrifices citizens make to keep democracy working in spite of the vices that often get in the way. One such vice is distrust of the stranger, which is overcome by the deliberate cultivation of what she calls “political friendship,” reaching out to others who appear to be different than ourselves. “To develop a cultural habit of such friendship would," Allen writes, “transform our political world.” In setting the context for our series on virtues and vices with the Center for Ethics, Danielle Allen will suggest ways people in institutions of higher education are prepared to effect this transformation by daring to imagine and act in accord with democratic ideals.
DANIELLE ALLEN, UPS Foundation Professor in the School of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study
Prior to her appointment at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in July 2007, Professor Allen was Dean of the Humanities Division of the University of Chicago, where she has served on the faculty since 1997. Trained both as a classicist and a political theorist, her particular interests are democratic theory, political sociology, the linguistic dimensions of politics, and the history of political thought. She is the author of The World of Prometheus: The Politics of Punishing in Democratic Athens (2000) and Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship Since Brown vs. the Board of Education (2004). In 2002 she was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.
JOSIAH OBER, Constantine Mitsotakis Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford
Josiah Ober divides his time and academic appointment between the Departments of Classics and Political Science, and has a courtesy appointment in Philosophy. He writes and teaches courses on various topics conjoining Greek history, classical philosophy, and political theory and practice. In addition to his ongoing work on the politics of knowledge and innovation, he is developing a project on the relationship between democracy and inherent human capacities and the ethical implications of that relationship. His most recent book, Athenian Legacies: Essays on the Politics of Going On Together, was published in 2005. His new book, Democracy and Knowledge: Innovation and Learning in Classical Athens, is forthcoming in November from Princeton University Press.