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What Americans Believe

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Professor Sidgwick Speaking

Good morning! Here we go again.

Today I want us to do something a bit different. Up to now we have talked about specific issues like justice or property. You have all expressed your views. Today, I want each of you to start trying to bring his or her ideas together. For example, I want Dee to try to put forward a broad, coherent statement of her libertarianism. I want Ayesha to give us an overview of Catholic social thought. And so on.

Our country includes all sorts of people with different views. I want us to try to lay out several of the main packages of ideas that characterize our crazy quilt culture. Try to imagine our group here as a microcosm of the whole United States. I hope that our discussion can reflect a national discussion. Try to think of yourselves not just as individuals with certain views, but as representatives of larger groups: conservatives, liberals, evangelicals, and so on.

To add to the diversity of our ideas, I have asked two new people to join us. Let me introduce Diego and Elijah. Diego is from Guatemala and has come here to study political science. Elijah is from Detroit and is working on a graduate degree in sociology. I asked them to join the group because they have views that are somewhat different from the rest of you. Diego is an Evangelical Christian and Elijah describes himself as a left-libertarian. They will tell us more about that as time goes on.

I have also asked Ayesha to talk with each of you and then give us a very short description of what each of you believes.

INSTRUCTIONS for reading What Americans Believe

  • "What Americans Believe" is a dialogue among eight characters, each of whom has a different political philosophy.

  • The character who is currently speaking is indicated at the top right corner of the page. On this page, for example, Professor Sidgwick is speaking. His name and picture are displayed in the top right corner.

  • After one character speaks, the other characters can respond. There will always be at least one response. Images of the responders are displayed in the column on the left side of the page. On this page, for example, the only response is from Ayesha. Her image is near the top of the column on the left side of the page.

  • There is a 'main path' through the dialogue that allows the user to read the main pages. The main path is the shortest way through the main points of the dialogue.

  • You can move quickly along the main path by clicking the link at the top right where it says "Click here to continue on the main path." You can also move along the main path by clicking the first response at the top of the column on the left side of the page. On this page, for example, you can move along the main path by clicking Ayesha's image near the top of the left-hand column. Notice that is says "main path" under her image.

  • If you click any response other than one that takes you along the main path, you will go off the main path. After reading a response that is off the main path, you can return to the main path by clicking the 'Return' icon that will appear at the top of the left hand column.

  • In addition to responses from characters in the dialogue, the left column sometimes includes links to comments or to extended quotations from primary source materials. If you go off the main path to read those pages, you can return by using the BACK button on your browser. (There is no built-in link that you can use to return to the main path.)

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