What is Civility?

By Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse at 3Quarks Daily:

We now are able identify civility in argument with tendencies that enable the exchange of reasons among disputants. Chief among these concerns the need for those who disagree to actually engage with each other’s reasons.  This requires arguers to earnestly attempt to correctly understand and accurately represent each other’s views.  For similar reasons, arguers must also give a proper hearing to their opponents’ reasons, especially when the opponent is responding to criticism.  In addition, when making the case for their own view, arguers must seek to present reasons that their opponents could at least in principle see the relevance of.  We can summarize these ideas by saying that civility in argument has three dimensions: Representation, Reception, and Reciprocity.

The whole article is worth read, and you can find it at the link above.

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  • Dan

    Does this mean I can’t call your views *nonsense*?

  • Excellent. Too many people seem to interpret civility as “being nice” or “dispassionate.” This paragraph gets more to the heart of the matter.

    You can call someone’s views “non sense” but you have to respectfully demonstrate why they are without sense. 😉