Quillen Joins Podcast Discussion on Shared Facts, Mutual Respect and Epithets vs. Arguments

Carol Quillen headshot

Davidson College President Carol Quillen recently appeared on the “Half Hour of Heterodoxy” podcast, where she joined host Chris Martin, who graduated from Davidson with a degree in psychology in 1999, to talk about viewpoint diversity on campus.

The conversation also covered the pursuit of truth in the era of fake news and what she and Davidson students have learned from Bill Kristol, who just concluded his term as the Visiting Vann Professor of Ethics in Society.

Quillen, a graduate of the University of Chicago, reflected on how she grew from her disagreements with her undergrad professors.

“I learned enormously from the challenge of having to refine my argument in the face of very smart people who disagreed with me, and I believe that’s a valuable educational experience,” she said.

But according to Quillen, that robust, illuminating debate must spring from a set of shared facts and mutual respect—qualities that are frequently crowded out by name-calling and a win-at-all-costs attitude that favors convenient falsehoods over difficult truths.

“Calling out a lie is really important,” she said. “I worry that we as a society have become indifferent to that task when the lies serve our political ends…

“Davidson’s mission includes the words ‘humane instincts’ and ‘disciplined and creative minds,’” she said. “A disciplined mind is one that distinguishes, that makes important distinctions between epithets and arguments, between lies and something that’s true, between fiction, complete fabrication and something that actually happened.”

The full 32-minute episode is available on major podcast platforms, through the Heterodox Academy website or below:

Listen to the Full Episode

The “Half Hour of Heterodoxy” is produced by Heterodox Academy, a network of higher-ed faculty, staff and students who promote open inquiry, viewpoint diversity and constructive disagreement in institutions of higher learning.


  • December 13, 2019