Coleen Watson is a Ph.d. candidate in Binghamton University’s Social, Political, Ethical, and Legal Philosophy program. Her research specialties are in political philosophy, focusing on liberal democratic theory, citizenship, applied ethics, and social epistemology. Coleen also teaches philosophy classes, and directs Binghamton University’s Critical Thinking Lab. She also works as an Academic Writing Consultant. To learn more about Coleen and her work visit https://philosophywithwatson.com/.
Why this Exists
This podcast exists because mainstream conversation and rhetoric surrounding controversies about rights, governance, political discussion, social justice, and institutional practice have little to no engagement in the philosophical foundations of democratic values. Talk of politics in the news or on social media rarely considers questions about what democratic freedom and equality are and why democratic institutions and processes are valuable, despite so much lip service paid to the social goods of democracies. Likewise, political controversy and the accompanying vitriol levied between citizens or politicians never seems to question why we have set up a system of government in which voting and public debate are a part of political life.
The Wisdom of the People hopes to get citizens in democracies talking about political philosophy by engaging general audiences with the philosophical concepts behind democratic governance. And we hope to get people talking without having to strawman each other’s political rivals. The podcast will explore how political philosophy’s ideas impact listeners’ everyday lives in hopes of promoting more rigorous civic discourse about normative issues in democratic life while demonstrating shared conceptual common ground many citizens haven’t recognized.
We also seek to empower all citizens in democracies with the intrinsic good found in our podcast title, “Wisdom.” This is a podcast about philosophy. Philosophy comes from the Ancient Greek language: Philo- love of and Sophia- Wisdom. The word “Democracy” also comes from Ancient Greek: Demos- the people and Kratia- power, rule. So this podcast hopes to be empowering by giving the people wisdom they can use to utilize their ruling authority more thoughtfully.
On the show, we hope to empower people with wisdom to help citizens (members of the demos) explore the various reasons behind their political beliefs. If we can all agree that some form of democratic system should be in place, for what reasons do we all agree? If some of us are skeptical about this, what reasons are there for being unconvinced that democratic forms of governance are best? Because it’s the people deciding, the people should have good reasons for their decisions and the best reasons are ones that have been weighed together with fellow citizens.
Happy listening and happy philosophizing!