Honors LLC Lectures: Presidential Election Debates

By Diana Hofmann

Staff Reporter

The Honors LLC at Sacred Heart University is holding events discussing the Presidential Election Debates this October. The events are designed to provoke thoughtful discussions by taking students beyond the issues raised by the Clinton and Trump campaigns.

All students and staff are welcome to attend each of the events. Each discussion will be held in the Schine Auditorium at 7 p.m. and there will be pizza available starting at 6:30 p.m.

“In my view, the purpose of these events is to carry forward the Socratic spirit of reflection at our university,” said philosophy professor Kenneth Knies.

The first event, which was held by Professor Colleen Butler-Sweet on Wednesday, Oct. 5, explored gender in the presidential election. Butler-Sweet led the discussion, which examined the prospect of electing our first woman president and how it has shaped this election season.

Butler-Sweet spoke about how society tends to perceive women who publicly seek power, and how these perceptions may be shaping popular views of Hilary Clinton and her candidacy.

The second event, which was held by Professor Jesse Bailey and Professor Michels on Wednesday, Oct. 12, discussed what “political correctness” is and how it functions in the contemporary political scene. Deeper questions were brought up such as “is being politically correct a virtue or a vice? To which political promotion and critique connected?”

“We are going to facilitate an inquiry about the term ‘political correctness’ to see what we can learn about its origins and its uses. Our goal is to come to a higher understanding and hopefully some common ground about rhetoric and limits of political discourse,” said Michels.

The event opened the meeting by considering different scenarios involving language and politics, and pointed out areas of agreement and disagreement, which elevated the discussion. This event also pointed out how political correctness is invoked in the 2016 election.

The last event which will be held today, Wednesday Oct. 19 by Professor Brian Stiltner and Professor Onoriode Ekeh, will discuss politics and lying in the presidential debate. The media likes to talk about how often the candidates lie and the severity of their lies. Dr. Stiltner and Dr. Ekeh invites students to instead think about the different kinds of lying in which politicians so often engage in.

Questions like “are certain kinds of lying morally worse than others? Are some kinds of lying actually necessary for good political leadership?” will be brought up.

These events explore broader questions raised by how we have been conducting our public conversations about who would make a better president.

“Socrates was famous for interrupting passionate debates about who is just, courageous or temperate with fundamental, seemingly simple questions: what are justice, courage and temperance? Why do we think they’re good things to begin with? By what light do we determine who has these qualities and who does not? Of course, the questions are not simple. Considering them even makes us feel awkward about our own convictions. But when we consider them, we also allow some thought into our public discourse,” said Knies.

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