Civility and Formality

22 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2013 Last revised: 8 Oct 2013

See all articles by Jeremy Waldron

Jeremy Waldron

New York University School of Law

Date Written: October 2013

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.

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

Suggested Citation

Waldron, Jeremy, Civility and Formality (October 2013). NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 13-57. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2326759 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2326759

Jeremy Waldron (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

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