Eric Cheng is a fifth year PhD candidate in political science, specializing in political theory. His general research interests concern the problems and possibilities of liberal democracy.
Drawing upon the diverse resources of analytic philosophy and textual interpretation, Eric’s research focuses on finding answers to the problem of stability in liberal democratic societies – the fact that pluralism can be an expression of core liberal democratic commitments on the one hand, yet can serve as a source of civil disruption on the other hand. He is currently working on a dissertation that argues for the importance of political friendship in liberal democratic societies. Specifically, the dissertation (1) argues that liberal democracies must take political friendship seriously in order to cultivate stability and (2) thinks seriously about how political friendship might be reinforced. Beginning with an interpretation of Aristotle’s classic articulation of political friendship, the dissertation considers different ways in which political friendship might be realized in contemporary liberal democratic contexts: ‘political friendship as conceptual metaphor,’ ‘constitutional patriotism,’ ‘liberal nationalism.’ Through these conversations, the dissertation develops an understanding of what sorts of people citizens must be and what sorts of relations they must share, if stability is to be cultivated in a manner consistent with the core commitments of liberal democracy.
Eric teaches the history of political thought and contemporary liberal democratic theory. Eric aims to help his students grow into confident yet charitable interlocutors. He will be teaching ‘Left, Right, and Center’ in the Spring of 2019.