Document Type

Senior Thesis

Publication Date



What is the most appropriate role of fear in contemporary democratic politics? Political figures and institutions harness and even create public fear for power and for maintaining order and structure. This thesis explores the moral dimensions of the use of fear in politics. I expected to find that not all politically premeditated uses of fear are undesirable. Could it be morally acceptable then, or even praiseworthy to use politically-motivated fear in certain cases? In certain situations, public fear may, in fact, be used to enhance democracy. This essay clarifies situations in which the political use of fear is both desirable and warranted. What must be avoided is the deliberative political rhetoric that uses fear in order to undermine individual autonomy and its inherent rationality, which is the ideal for citizens of a liberal democracy.