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20 Theses Regarding Civility (guest post by Amy Olberding)

Too many (most?) conversations about civility begin because someone did something perceived to be uncivil. Making civility all about what other people do is in fact part of the problem, as civility is then degraded into a cudgel and its proponents into cops. Conversation about civility would be improved if sorting oneself out was the focus. The following is a guest post by Amy Olberding, the President’s Associates Presidential Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oklahoma. It originally appeared at Department of Deviance. (Note: do not use the comments section on this post to call out particular individuals’ you believe have engaged in uncivil behavior. Thank you.) 20 Theses Regarding Civility by Amy Olberding If I could just find the door to the discourse, I’d nail these on it. Dissent does not require incivility. I would have thought this obvious but have now too often heard people voice the assumption that if you’re civil, you’re not dissenting. Civility does not, under any theoretical construction or system of practical application, require that one not dissent. Dissent can be accomplished civilly or uncivilly. Dissent is not inevitably or automatically more powerful, more decisive, or more effective when delivered uncivilly. This is especially so in contexts where incivilities are frequent and commonplace because the emotive force of incivility becomes diluted. Incivility in dissent works in part when it functions to communicate distress, moral [More]

How to Argue With People

Talking with people about difficult or controversial topics can be a real challenge (and it seems there are plenty of those conversations these days). This article covers the basics of argumentation and offers some strategies on how to make difficult conversations with people more productive. [More]

Ballot Box Epistemology

Many voters form beliefs about candidates based not on any substantive arguments but on the rhetorical power of the candidate. While rhetoric has an important role to play in belief formation, rhetoric without a substantial foundation can be disastrous. This is particularly true when electing national leaders. [More]

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