Schmitdz discusses political control and consent

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Professor David Schmidtz shared insights about the environment, politics and consent. Photo contributed.

“The goal of a successful political animal is not winning, but not needing to win,” said  the University of Arizona’s Professor David Schmidtz at the Scholars’ Convocation on last Wednesday, April 29.

Schmidtz is the Kendrick Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arizona, where the political philosophy graduate program he works for is ranked as the #1 program in the world. His areas of focus are ethics, environmental philosophy, and rational choice theory.

The speech was titled “The Pretense of Consent,” which provided the audience a look at his current work in progress. Starting with the peculiarity of Freedom of Religion in the Western World as an example, he extrapolated to discuss his views on how governments can “accept that disagreement is a fundamental part of human nature” and act to “make disagreement non-violent, certainly non-fatal.”

“Thriving communities manage traffic, not choosing destinations for its people, neither does it force us to justify our decisions,” said Schmidtz.

Another aspect interwoven throughout Schmitz’ talk was the evolution of his own personal views.

“As an academic, you don’t get to have the same views 10 years from now as you do today,” said Schmidtz.

His speech was unscripted, allowing his tone to be open and flexible. The atmosphere was that of an academic brainstorming session as he answered questions addressing many areas of his beliefs. Schmidtz’ views on the polis existing as a forum wherein rational actors can “let it be” specifically sparked dialogue with the audience.

In addition to Schmidtz’ talk there was a presentation honoring Grinnell’s current inductees to the National Phi Beta Kappa Honors Society. Third and fourth year inductees were announced. Sarah Weitekamp ‘15 was awarded a monetary prize from the society for her essay on the Catholic Church in Lithuania during the Soviet Era.