Jeff Spinner-Halev and Elizabeth Theiss-Morse | Respect and the Challenge of Equality

CSDP Colloquium
Nov 30, 2023, 12:00 pm1:30 pm
Faculty, fellows, and graduate students only



Event Description

Fundamental to democratic equality is the acceptance that all people have intrinsic worth as moral agents, what is commonly called recognition respect. Both focus group and survey data show that liberals and Democrats have a more varied understanding of equality and are more likely to believe in the centrality of respect than conservatives and Republicans, yet they are less likely to give recognition respect to opposing partisans than their conservative counterparts. We also test citizens’ belief in civic respect, and their willingness to grant it to opposing partisans. We define civic respect as the willingness to listen (at least sometimes) to those with different political and social views in interpersonal or impersonal ways. At its heart, civic respect means accepting pluralism, and many Americans have a hard time practicing civic respect. We end with a discussion of collective responsibility and the egalitarian ethos, where we draw parallels between the views of many liberal citizens and those of egalitarian political theorists. We argue that egalitarian political theory has a troubled relationship with pluralism and explain why many theorists need to prioritize respect or justice. We defend pluralism over its rival, monism, and propose an alternative to an egalitarian ethos, an egalitarian pluralist ethos.

  • Center for the Study of Democratic Politics (CSDP)
  • University Center for Human Values (UCHV)