Summary of The Dying Art of Disagreement

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Issues like gun control, health care and abortion deeply divide Americans. The reason why people can’t find a middle ground on these issues, says New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, is that people no longer make the effort to understand other people’s viewpoints – a prerequisite for engaging in genuine debate. At a lecture given at the 2017 Lowy Institute Media Award dinner in Australia, Stephens emphasized the important role of the media in rekindling the “art of disagreement,” which he says forms the backbone of any liberal democracy. getAbstract recommends Stephens’s lecture to media professionals, educators, and citizens of all stripes and political persuasions.

About the Author

Bret L. Stephens is an op-ed columnist at The New York Times.



Political polarization is a defining feature of contemporary American politics. Republicans have become more right-leaning and Democrats more left-leaning since the late 1990s. Americans are also more likely to associate with and live near their fellow partisans and to consume news from sources that echo their political preferences.

The problem, however, isn’t that Americans disagree about a wide range of issues. The problem is that they no longer engage and debate their differing viewpoints. Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, and other great thinkers of Western civilization developed...

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