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Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership - Student Profiles



I am a French PhD candidate in philosophy. After completing my undergraduate degree in Politics and Philosophy at the London School of Economics, I studied for the BPhil in Philosophy at Oxford University. I specialize in political philosophy. I am particularly interested in articulating a picture of democratic decision-making  that sheds light on why we take democracy to be more valuable than other forms of rule. 

More specifically, my thesis examines the 'deliberative' dimension of democracy. The ideal of public deliberation, whereby citizens voice their concerns and exchange justifications, is central to why we value democracy. Accordingly, political philosophers have long argued that we should strive for more 'deliberative' forms of democracy. However, the philosophical ideal of deliberative democracy might seem out of touch with reality. In divided societies, public speech is routinely used to vilify others, to express rage at their doings, and to spread ignorance. My dissertation develops a normative account of democratic public discourse that is sensitive to these real life concerns, but nonetheless makes sense of why inclusive public discourse is so important. In doing so, I address some of the following questions: What positive role do negative emotions, like rage, play in democratic speech? Can we adequately counter vilifying speech with more speech? More generally, how can democratic public discourse be used to pool knowledge rather than spread ignorance?

Other academic interests

I am interested in a range of issues in contemporary political philosophy besides democratic theory:  Structural injustice (esp. What does it mean for an injustice to structural? Who bears responsibility for remediating structural injustices?); Philosophical methodology (esp. Should political philosophers work under idealizing assumptions? Can they do otherwise?); Theories of social and global justice; Feminism (esp. When and why do feminist and multiculturalist political demands conflict, and how can we arbitrate between these claims?).

I am also fascinated by philosophical topics outside contemporary political philosophy:  the history of political and moral philosophy, especially Rousseau, Kant, and Nietzsche; ethics and meta-ethics; philosophy of science; social epistemology.

When I am not studying philosophy, I enjoy reading literature, playing the bass, and playing football. 

Department: Philosophy
Supervisor: Dr Clare Chambers
College: Trinity College
AHRC Subject Area: Philosophy
Title of Thesis: Democratic Speech in Divided Times
 Maxime  Lepoutre