Wednesday, August 11, 2010

15 rules of Civility

The following 15 rules of civility are taken from Stephen Carter’s Civility (1998).

  1. Our duty to be civil toward others does not depend on whether we like them or not.
  2. Civility requires that we sacrifice for strangers, not just for people we happen to know.
  3. Civility has two parts: generosity, even when it is costly, and trust, even when there is risk.
  4. Civility creates not merely a negative duty not to do harm, but an affirmative duty to do good.
  5. Civility requires a commitment to live a common moral life, so we should try to follow the norms of the community if the norms are not actually immoral.
  6. We must come into the presence of our fellow human beings with a sense of awe and gratitude.
  7. Civility assumes that we will disagree; it requires us not to mask our differences but to resolve them respectfully.
  8. Civility requires that we listen to others with knowledge of the possibility that they are right and we are wrong.
  9. Civility requires that we express ourselves in ways that demonstrate our respect for others.
  10. Civility requires resistance to the dominance of social life by the values of the marketplace. Thus, the basic principles of civility—generosity and trust—should apply as fully in the market and in politics as in every other human activity.
  11. Civility allows criticism of others, and sometimes even requires it, but the criticism should always be civil.
  12. Civility discourages the use of legislation rather than conversation to settle disputes, except as a last, carefully considered resort.
  13. Teaching civility, by word and example, is an obligation of the family. The state must not interfere with the family’s effort to create a coherent moral universe for its children.
  14. Civility values diversity, disagreement, and the possibility of resistance, and therefore the state must not use education to try to standardize our children.
  15. Religions do their greatest service to civility when they preach not only love of neighbor but resistance to wrong.

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