Calhoun, Cheshire. The Virtue of Civility
2000, Philosophy and Public Affairs 29 (3):251-275.
Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Eline Gerritsen
Abstract: The decline of civility has increasingly become the subject of lament both in popular media and in daily conversation. Civility forestalls the potential unpleasantness of a life with other people. Without it, daily social exchanges can turn nasty and sometimes hazardous. Civility thus seems to be a basic virtue of social life. Moral philosophers, however, do not typically mention civility in their catalogues or examples of virtue. In what follows, I want to suggest that civility is a particularly interesting virtue for moral philosophers because giving an adequate account of the virtue of civility requires us to rethink the relationship between moral virtue and compliance with social norms.
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Comment: This paper has a clear argumentative structure, gives many examples and does not require prior knowledge of the topic. It can be used on its own in a discussion of virtue ethics, e.g. to illustrate how you can argue that something is a virtue and how to differentiate virtues. It can also be used in a discussion of the relation between morality and social norms.