Mere Civility

Mere Civility Disagreement and the Limits of Toleration

Paperback (29 Nov 2019) | English

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A New Statesman Best Book of the Year
A Church Times Book of the Year

We are facing a crisis of civility, a war of words polluting our public sphere. In liberal democracies committed to tolerating active, often heated disagreement, the loss of this virtue appears critical.

Most modern appeals to civility follow arguments by Hobbes or Locke by proposing to suppress disagreement or exclude views we deem "uncivil" for the sake of social harmony. By comparison, mere civility-a grudging conformity to norms of respectful behavior-as defended by Rhode Island's founder, Roger Williams, might seem minimal and unappealing. Yet Teresa Bejan argues that Williams's outlook offers a promising path forward in confronting our own crisis, one that challenges our fundamental assumptions about what a tolerant-and civil-society should look like.

"Penetrating and sophisticated."
-James Ryerson, New York Times Book Review

"Would that more of us might learn to look into the past with such gravity and humility. We might end up with a more (or mere) civil society, yet."
-Los Angeles Review of Books

"A deeply admirable book: original, persuasive, witty, and eloquent."
-Jacob T. Levy, Review of Politics

"A terrific book-learned, vigorous, and challenging."
-Alison McQueen, Stanford University

About the Publisher

Harvard University Press

Harvard University Press

Founded in 1913, Harvard University Press is the publisher of such classic works as John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice, E. O. Wilson’s On Human Nature, and Helen Vendler’s Dickinson. The Press continues to be a leading publisher of convergent works in the sciences, humanities, and social sciences, while also taking bold steps in exciting new directions, from innovative partnerships, to a diverse translation program, to an expanded commitment to facilitating scholarly conversation around the globe.

Book information

ISBN: 9780674241640
Publisher: Harvard
Imprint: Harvard University Press
Pub date:
DEWEY: 177.1
DEWEY edition: 23
Language: English
Number of pages: 288
Weight: 332g
Height: 233mm
Width: 150mm
Spine width: 19mm