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Director's Lecture

Charles Taylor, “Democratic Degeneration: Three Easy Paths to Regression”


Event Summary

Photo by Max Herman

Countering the popular notion that history is progressing inexorably toward global embrace of democracy, eminent philosopher Charles Taylor discussed the dynamics internal to democracy that make it susceptible to decline. A professor emeritus at McGill University, Taylor is the author of many influential books of philosophy and the recipient of numerous awards. The following day he joined Roman Family Director Jonathan Lear for a discussion with graduate students about the nature and social significance of irony.

Related Media

Reconstructing Democracy: How Citizens Are Building from the Ground Up
(Charles Taylor’s publication on democracy and political philosophy co-authored with Patrizia Nanz and Madeleine Beaubien Taylor, Harvard University Press, March 17, 2020)

How to Restore Your Faith in Democracy” (Profile featuring Charles Taylor’s thought on contemporary crises of Democracy, The New Yorker, November 11, 2016)


Charles Taylor


Charles Taylor (Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at McGill University) is the author of many influential books, including Sources of the Self, A Secular Age, and, most recently, The Language Animal: The Full Shape of the Human Linguistic Capacity. Taylor has been honored with numerous awards, including the Templeton Prize (2007), the Kyoto Prize for Thought and Ethics (2008), the John W. Kluge Prize for Achievement in the Study of Humanity (2015), and the Berggruen Prize for Philosophy and Culture (2016).