Rules for etiquette in a democracy

MNCC board chair, Augsburg College president Paul Pribbenow, recently highlighted Stephen L. Carter’s proposed rules for etiquette in a democracy, which  include:

  •     Our duty to be civil toward others does not depend on whether we like them or not.
  •     Civility requires that we sacrifice for strangers, not just for people we happen to know.
  •     Civility has two parts: generosity, even when it is costly, and trust, even when there is risk.
  •     Civility creates not merely a negative duty not to do harm, but an affirmative duty to do good.
  •     We must come into the presence of our fellow humans with a sense of awe and gratitude.
  •     Civility requires that we listen to others with knowledge of the possibility that they are right and we are wrong.
  •     Civility requires that we express ourselves in ways that demonstrate our respect for others.
  •     Civility requires resistance to the dominance of social life by the values of the marketplace.
  •     Civility allows criticism of others, and sometimes even requires it, but the criticism should always be civil.

A good proposal to consider as we dive into a new school year, all sorts of community partnerships, and a contentious election season!   (For Paul’s full presentation, click on “Hospitality Is Not Enough” here.)

Carter’s rules appear in his book Civility:  Manners, Morals, and the Etiquette of Democracy.

What do you think?  Share comments and stories related to these rules and/or others you’d propose.


One response to “Rules for etiquette in a democracy

  1. These reminded me of the principles of civility espoused in Forni’s book on civility and the 25 rules of considerate conduct. I recommend it as an additional piece to consider.

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