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February 8, 2011

educating for civility

I am concerned about civil society and active citizenship, not about civility per se. I think an obligation to be polite can suppress engagement or can favor one side over the other (normally the side that is invested in the status quo). Sometimes, an angry critique is just what we need.

But there is a sense of "civility" that means a willingness to listen to others and learn from them. Civility in that sense is vital unless one is certain one is right. Only a few people should enjoy that certainty. (For example, Frederick Douglass appropriately refused to hear or answer arguments in favor of slavery.)

Anyway, I have generally avoided debates about civility, but I was persuaded to write a chapter on the topic for a volume entitled Educating for Deliberative Democracy, edited by my friend Nancy Thomas. The book is now out. It is not available online, but Wiley has chosen my chapter as their free online excerpt (PDF).

February 8, 2011 12:29 PM | category: deliberation | Comments



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