Democratic politics has always been a place of discussion, disagreement and debate. However, recent politics – especially in the age of social media – seems to be increasingly polarised. This raises the question of whether there are better and worse ways to debate controversial topics with each other, not just in public settings such as parliaments and the media, but also in ordinary discussions amongst family members, in schools, seminar rooms, at workplaces, as part of community organisations, and online.
For the past twelve months, the RSE Young Academy of Scotland (YAS) has been working with academics, journalists, social media experts, politicians, advocates of citizen assemblies and members of the public to try to identify a set of principles that might renew the culture of debate in Scotland. These principles are grounded in an ideal of public debate as informed, respectful and inclusive discussion amongst those who may initially disagree but who listen well to each other. Such debate involves rethinking what it means to be ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ and opens up more space for concession and collaboration. It aims to build consensus and a sense of common purpose amongst a wide group of people from diverse backgrounds and with different experiences, abilities, and knowledge.
YAS now needs your input to help road-test and refine this set of principles!
The YAS Responsible Debate team is teaming up with CEPPA (the St Andrews Centre for Ethics, Philosophy and Public Affairs) to host a discussion event for St Andrews university staff. Two YAS members (Professor Matthew Chrisman, Edinburgh, and Dr Alice König, St Andrews) will introduce the draft charter, followed by responses and reflections from two CEPPA members (Dr Adam Etinson and Dr Ben Sachs). Plenary discussion will follow, and we will be joined by Jenny Gilruth, MSP and Minister for Europe and International Development, who will share her perspective from the world of politics. Audience feedback on the charter will inform YAS’s further development of this project.
The wider aim of the event is to stimulate discussion about the roles that we can play as individuals, groups and institutions to change the culture of public debate for the better.
The event is free to attend, but registration is essential to ensure that we cater correctly. Book your place and register any dietary or access requirements, please click here: email@example.com = the university point of contact (Alice König)