Ian Shapiro Quotes
“An existential faith is a hot, committed view of the world layered into the affective dispositions, habits and institutional priorities of its confessors. The intensity of commitment to it typically exceeds the power of the arguments and evidence advanced. On my reading, then, each thinker listed above is a carrier of a distinctive existential faith. The faith in which each is invested has not yet been established in a way that rules out of court every perspective except it. It is a contestable faith. This is not to deny that impressive, comparative considerations might be offered on its behalf, or that it might be subjected to critical interrogations that press its advocates to adjust this or that aspect of it. An existential faith is not immune to new argument and evidence, as I will try to show; commitment to it, rather, is seldom exhausted by them.”
“Przeworski and others have shown that although the level of economic development does not predict the installation of democracy, there is a strong relationship between level of per capita income and the survival of democratic regimes. Democracies appear never to die in wealthy countries, whereas poor democracies are fragile, exceedingly so when annual per
capita incomes fall below $2,000 (1975 dollars). When annual per capita incomes fall below this threshold, democracies have a one in ten chance of collapsing within a year.”
“Ideologies and religions persist in politics, sometimes in tension with science, sometimes in tandem with it, partly because of the ways in which they facilitate competition for power in democracies. This process is far from well understood, but few social scientists today would bet much on the hope-or fear, depending on one's point of view-that these forces are likely to become obsolete in politics any time soon.”
“the communities into which people are born are wellsprings of the political claims that they recognize, and, in some formulations, even of their identities as individuals. Collective norms and practices constitute individuals as the beings that they are; they are, in Taylor's phrase, the "sources of the self." By this he means to convey not merely that collective norms and practices are historically prior to any given individual; they also supply her life with meaning and value.”
- Description: Ian Shapiro is Sterling Professor of Political Science and Henry R. Luce Director of the MacMillan Center at Yale University. He is known primarily for interventions in debates on democracy and on methods of conducting social science research. In democratic theory, he has argued that democracy's value comes primarily from its potential to limit domination rather than, as is conventionally assumed, from its operation as a system of participation, representation, or preference aggregation. In debates about social scientific methods, he is chiefly known for rejecting prevalent theory-driven and method-driven approaches in favor of starting with a problem and then devising suitable methods to study it.