New York University Public Law and Legal Theory Working Papers

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Civility is a distinctive virtue in social and political relations, not an all-embracing one. In this paper, I suggest that civility is also a "chilly" virtue, associated more with formality than with niceness; that is, I argue that its importance is best accounted for on this basis. I pursue the theme of formality in a number of different areas: formality in market relations; formality in political inclusiveness; formality in the willingness to listen and "stay present" for the articulation of views to which is utterly opposed; and formality in democratic deliberations. So defined, civility is not everything and it may need to be balanced against other principles and requirements of politics. But the account I give of its relation to formality enables us to see it in the distinctive importance that it has, even though its importance may not be absolute.

Date of Authorship for this Version

10-2013

Keywords

civility, disagreement, difference, formality, legal rights, legislation, markets, inclusiveness, toleration