Volume 20

Ethics in Conversation: Why "Mere" Civility is Not Enough

by J.P. Messina

In her excellent Mere Civility, Teresa Bejan distinguishes between three conceptions of civility, arguing that the third, Mere Civility, is best positioned to help us navigate our increasingly polarized world. In this paper, I argue that Mere Civility does not ask enough of speakers. As participants in important discussions, we should hold ourselves to more exacting standards. Specifically, when engaging in discussion of matters of public significance, speakers have defeasible reason to constrain their speech to that which engages rationally with others’ contributions. In doing so, speakers ensure that the temperature of the conversation stays low and that political action is underwritten by the genuine exchange of reasons rather than by chance. I defend this view against several objections.

Keep Reading Ethics in Conversation: Why “Mere” Civility is Not Enough

Subscribe to GJLPP