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Teresa Bejan

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Latest 18 Jul 2021 | Updated Daily

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116 | Teresa Bejan on Free Speech, Civility, and Toleration

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

How can, and should, we talk to each other, especially to people with whom we disagree? “Free speech” is rightfully entrenched as an important value in liberal democratic societies, but implementing it consistently and fairly is a tricky business. Political theorist Teresa Bejan comes to this question from a philosophical and historical perspective, managing to relate broad principles to modern hot-button issues. We talk about the importance of tolerating disreputable beliefs, the senses in which speech acts can be harmful, and how “civility” places demands on listeners as well as speakers.Support Mindscape on Patreon.Teresa Bejan received an M.Phil. in Political Thought and Intellectual History from Cambridge and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale. She is currently Associate Professor of Political Theory and Fellow of Oriel College at the University of Oxford. Among her awards are the American Political Science Association’s Leo Strauss Award for the best dissertation in political philosophy and the inaugural Early Career Prize for the greatest overall contribution to research and teaching in political thought from the Britain & Ireland Association for Political Thought. Her book Mere Civility: Disagreement and the Limits of Toleration considers political speech through the lens of early modern debates about religious liberty.Web siteOxford web pageMere CivilityGoogle Scholar publicationsWikipediaTalk on “What Was the Point of Equality?”TwitterSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

1hr 43mins

28 Sep 2020

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The Solid Ground of Mere Civility: A Conversation with Teresa Bejan

Liberty Law Talk

Teresa Bejan joins this edition of Liberty Law Talk to discuss her book Mere Civility and why Roger Williams is an exemplar of how to disagree well.

46mins

12 Jan 2020

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Teresa Bejan - Equality and hierarchy in the thought of Mary Astell

Lectures in Intellectual History

Ever since Mary Astell was introduced as the "First English Feminist" in 1986, scholars have been perplexed by her dual commitments to natural equality and social, political, and ecclesiastical hierarchy. But any supposed "paradox" in her though is the product of a modernist conceit that treats equality and hierarchy as antonyms, assuming the former must be prior, normative, and hostile to the latter. Seeing this, two other crucial features of Astell's thought emerge: her ethics of ascent and the psychology of superiority. These, in turn, illuminate her lifelong fascination with ambition as a feminine virtue, as well as her curious embrace of Machiavelli. Astell's politics and ethics are thus doubly worthy of recovery, both as the product of a singularly brilliant early modern mind and as a fascinating but forgotten vision of "equality before egalitarianism" that sheds light on the persistent complexities of equality and hierarchy to this day.

46mins

31 Oct 2019

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57. Teresa Bejan, Mere Civility

Half Hour of Heterodoxy

Professors and politicians warn that we face a crisis of civility today. But is civility really a virtue, and how much civility do we really need? Those questions are addressed by my guest today is Teresa Bejan, in her book Mere Civility: Disagreement and the Limits of Toleration, published in 2017. Teresa is an associate professor of political theory at the University of Oxford.Mere Civility critiques early modern debates about civility and how much disagreement we should tolerate, analyzing the views of two well-known thinkers, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, as well as Roger Williams, the founder of the colony of Rhode Island. She encourages us to follow Roger Williams in allowing all kinds of disagreement, including expressions of contempt, but to avoid physical violence.TranscriptHere is a transcript of this episode.Rating the ShowIf you enjoyed this show, please rate it on iTunes:* Go to the show’s iTunes page and click “View in iTunes”* Click “Ratings and Reviews” which is to the right of “Details”* Next to “Click to Rate” select the stars.See the full list of episodes of Half Hour of Heterodoxy >>

31mins

1 Jun 2019

Most Popular

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FREE SPEECH 31: On Civility, with Teresa Bejan

Think About It

When they go low, we go...where? "We need more civility" in our political discourse is a frequent complaint lodged by politicians on all sides. Teresa Bejan, who teaches political theory at Oxford University, traces the history of civility from early modern English and American thought, especially in John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, and Roger Williams, the founder of the American colony that would become today's Rhode Island who is remembered mostly for advocating for the separation of church and state, and religious toleration. She explains what "mere civility" means, and how it can be the common ground for arguments over things that usually divide people, including free speech. 

55mins

3 Dec 2018

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#22 Teresa Bejan

The Sacred

Teresa Bejan is Associate Professor of Political …Teresa Bejan is Associate Professor of Political Theory in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Oriel College. Her book, Mere Civility: Disagreement and the Limits of Toleration (Harvard University Press) examines contemporary calls for civility in light of seventeenth-century debates about religious toleration in England and America. Many of the pressing questions facing liberal democracies today—such as what the proper scope of religious liberty should be, or how to handle partisanship and hate speech—closely recall early modern concerns about the limits of toleration and so-called “persecution of the tongue.”In this episode, Teresa talks to Elizabeth about her book, the importance of building resilience when being confronted with ideas different from our own, and why not having a thick skin when it comes to critique, might be a good thing.

36mins

19 Sep 2018

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Episode 12: Expert Opinion - Teresa Bejan

Clear and Present Danger - A history of free speech

We enter the early modern age with an expert opinion featuring Teresa Bejan, associate professor at Oriel College, Oxford University and author of “Mere Civility: Disagreement and the Limits of Toleration.” In this episode, Jacob and Teresa will discuss political thought on tolerance and the limits of religious speech in early modern England and colonial America. The episode investigates the writings of intellectual rock stars John Milton, Thomas Hobbes, and John Locke and the less famous but hugely relevant Roger Williams.   Among the topics discussed are: Milton’s “Areopagitica” Early colonial religious “hate speech” laws Why Hobbes found “the mere fact of disagreement offensive”   The origin, development, and limits of Lockean tolerance Williams’s combination of fundamentalist evangelical intolerance and free speech fundamentalism Why political theory and practice of the 17th century is relevant to modern day controversies on free speech Bejan is Associate Professor of Political Theory in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Oriel College. She is the author of Mere Civility: Disagreement and the Limits of Toleration. You can subscribe and listen to Clear and Present Danger on iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, TuneIn and Stitcher, or download episodes directly from SoundCloud. Stay up to date with Clear and Present Danger on the show’s Facebook and Twitter pages, or visit the podcast’s website at freespeechhistory.com. Email us feedback at freespeechhistory@gmail.com.

1hr 11mins

23 Aug 2018

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Teresa Bejan on Civility

Philosophy Bites

Civility is a conversational virtue that governs how people talk to each other. How important is it in political life? In this episode of the Philosophy Bites podcast Teresa Bejan discusses this manner of speaking and writing and its history.  We are grateful for sponsorship for this episode from the Marc Sanders Foundation and from our Patreon patrons. 

21mins

20 Aug 2018

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EARLY AMERICAN RELIGION A conversation with Teresa Bejan

Political Philosophy Podcast

EARLY AMERICAN RELIGION A conversation with Teresa Bejan by Toby Buckle

53mins

4 Aug 2018

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Teresa Bejan: The Disagreeableness of Disagreement

Runnymede Radio

Discussion with Teresa Bejan of Oriel College, Oxford about her 2017 book Mere Civility, which contrasts the views on the limits of toleration in a liberal society of John Rawls, Thomas Hobbes, and Roger Williams, and defends Williams' 'mere civility' which was based on "mutual contempt" rather than mutual respect. We also discuss recent events at Middlebury and Wellesley College, identity politics' want for epistemic humility, and 'free speech fundamentalism'.For more on Mere Civility, see this recent New York Times feature.

56mins

18 May 2017