Discussion Colloquia

With basic liberal principles such as toleration, pluralism, equality before the law, and constitutionally constrained democracy facing serious critique within and beyond the academy, IHS has launched the Discourse Initiative—a series of written and in-person conversations aimed at reinvigorating the exploration of the liberal intellectual tradition. This discussion will be among the first of these conversations.

About this Colloquium

We’ve chosen the themes of toleration, pluralism, and the global cosmopolitan society as the focus of this discussion because they are central to the liberal vision of the good society—a pluralistic and tolerant society in which intellectual and economic progress are the norm and where individuals and communities flourish in a context of openness and mutual respect.

Our readings will take us from Chandran Kukathas’s “liberal archipelago” of fundamental values that underlie a functioning pluralistic society to Jacob Levy’s explication of modern associationism. From philosophy and political theory, we will move into one particularly powerful example of the cosmopolitan life—the “Forgotten Founding Father,” Thomas Paine, a figure important to scholars within the classical liberal, progressive left, and constitutional-conservative traditions. The history of his life, ideas, and age will point us back to the modern day and applications for liberal thinking as we build the history of our own global era.

Have an Idea for Your Own Discussion Colloquium?

Please contact us at DiscussionColloquia@TheIHS.org for more information and include the following: a current CV, a detailed description of the program topic, and the dates that you have in mind for the program.