“Think for yourself;” “Question authority;” “Critique those in power” – these are the hallmarks of democratic citizenry. But how do we draw the line between healthy skepticism that is necessary for democracy, and the forms of skepticism that animate climate denialist and conspiracy theorists? How should democratic citizens navigate between the twin pitfalls of unthinking obedience and nihilistic skepticism? My guest today, Dr. Alec Arellano of Occidental College, turns to Alexis de Tocqueville’s famous study, Democracy in America, to chart a middle ground between these two constitutive dangers of democratic politics. Professor Arellano teaches in the Politics Department at Occidental College, and we spoke about Tocqueville, democratic citizenship, and crafting research projects.
- You can learn more about Professor Arellano’s research by visiting his website: https://www.alecarellano.com/
- You can read his piece on Tocqueville and independent thinking in The Review of Politics.
- Music: https://www.purple-planet.com
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- Learn more about the Politics Department at Occidental College at: https://www.oxy.edu/academics/areas-study/politics