Gabriel Rockhill

Andrew W. Mellon Regional Fellow in the Humanities

20132014 Forum on Violence

Gabriel Rockhill

Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Villanova University

The Janus Face of Democracy: Urgency of an Untimely Question

This research project proposes to critically analyze the Janus face of democracy by examining the tensions and contradictions between the dual roles that it has come to play in the contemporary world. On the one hand, democracy has in many ways come to represent the political good par excellence, and there is an extremely widespread consensus concerning the normative value of democracy as such. On the other hand, contemporary democracies are responsible in more or less direct ways for detrimental forms of violence and oppression around the world, ranging from repressive domestic policies to bloody military interventions abroad. What is the relationship between these two faces of democracy, between democracy as a shield against oppression and democracy as a perpetrator of violence?