Andrew W. Mellon Regional Fellow in the Humanities
2013—2014 Forum on Violence
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?