Do Liberals Know Best? Intellectual Self-Confidence and the Claim to a Monopoly on Knowledge
Bradley Lecture by Gerard Alexander

For decades, intellectual politics and policy debates in the United States have been distorted by a strange residue of liberalism, reminding us of the movement's long dominance over U.S. politics. Many liberal and progressive thinkers assume, usually implicitly, that they alone have a monopoly on knowledge about cause-and-effect relationships in U.S. society, government, and the economy. This assumption supports conventional claims that conservative politics are fundamentally irrational rather than guided by reason and evidence--most famously, that something is "the matter" with Kansas or that despair leads people to "cling to guns or religion." This assumption also justifies the left-of-center "ownership" of American universities and the often cavalier dismissal of conservative policy recommendations coming from think tanks and other research or educational organizations. It may explain as well why liberal commentators often assume that conservatives and libertarians who disagree with liberal policy recommendations must therefore disagree with liberal goals such as helping the poor, for example. At the rescheduled February 2010 Bradley Lecture, AEI visiting scholar Gerard Alexander will examine why liberal intellectual self-assurance has yet to be undermined by numerous policy failures since the 1960s, why today's society is short on mechanisms that might convey those lessons--even from a few decades ago--and why pervasive dismissal of conservative social knowledge remains a powerful obstacle to more sophisticated policy debates.

Gerard Alexander is an AEI visiting scholar and an associate professor of politics at the University of Virginia. The author of The Sources of Democratic Consolidation (Cornell University Press, 2002), he has also written articles on empirical democratic theory in the Journal of Theoretical Politics and Comparative Political Studies, on perceptions of the United States abroad in International Security, and on neoconservatism and international relations theory in Understanding the Bush Doctrine (Routledge, 2007). Mr. Alexander's work has also appeared in Policy Review, The National Interest, The Weekly Standard, National Review, and the Claremont Review of Books. He is currently writing a book about race and modern conservative politics.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014 | 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
The Constitution as political theory

Please join us for the third-annual Walter Berns Constitution Day Lecture as James Ceasar, Harry F. Byrd Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia, explores some of the Constitution’s most significant contributions to political theory, focusing on themes that have been largely unexamined in current scholarship.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 | 8:10 a.m. – Thursday, September 18, 2014 | 1:30 p.m.
Third international conference on housing risk: New risk measures and their applications

We invite you to join us for this year’s international conference on housing risk — cosponsored by the Collateral Risk Network and AEI International Center on Housing Risk — which will focus on new mortgage and collateral risk measures and their applications.

Thursday, September 18, 2014 | 2:15 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Speaker of the House John Boehner on resetting America’s economic foundation

Please join us as Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) delivers his five-point policy vision to reset America’s economy.

Friday, September 19, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Reforming Medicare: What does the public think?

Please join us as a panel of distinguished experts explore the implications of the report and the consumer role in shaping the future of Medicare.

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